This Wednesday morning at 9 am I have to do something I’ve only done at one other time in my entire life.
I’m going to the principal’s office.
To be fair, I AM going willingly and I WILL be accompanied by the King, but I am nervous nonetheless.
The principal’s office is scary. Fourteen years after finishing my secondary education, I still remember the time during my senior year when I, along with 3 other appointed representatives, ventured into the lair that was the office of Alta High’s own she-devil high commander, to protest the forced attendance of the pep band at the state 5A basketball championships. I was chosen for this honor because along with being a member of the AP loving, NHS badge toting nerd herd I was also a valued leader of the band geeks. By standing up to the oppressive administration, I was elevated for at least a day to Band Goddess. Fortunately, it didn’t get back to my worshipful minions that I had frozen in her office after 2 or 3 sentences and ended up thanking her profusely for the opportunity to support the jocks that made Alta the fine establishment that it was.
But that was years ago. I’ve grown and matured since then. I can watch sports now without mentally accounting how many brilliant musicians and future nuclear physicists could be educated all the way through grad school on the scholarships that are thrown at even the most mediocre collegiate athletes.
Not bitter at all.
But this Wednesday I’m not going to the principal’s office to stand up for athletically disabled and underappreciated. The King and I are going for our son. The Fox was diagnosed with a degenerative retinal disease 4 years ago called X-Linked Retinitis Pigmentosa. He is doing really well, and we are taking every possible precaution to preserve his sight while preparing him for the future as a blind person. Our school district has a wonderful program for the visually impaired, and Fox has been working with the very best teacher in the program, Mrs. Robinett. She has been working with Fox for 2 years, and last week he took third in spelling in the Utah Braille Challenge. More than teaching him Braille, Mrs. Robinett is teaching Fox that he can and will be able to do anything in life that a person with full vision can do. He does not fear the future. At the Braille Challenge he was able to meet 50 other students with visual impairments, and it was the first time he’s been around kids that are “just like him”- all with various degrees of vision but all accepting the eventuality of life without sight. In particular, we met two other students from our area that are around the same age as Fox but go to a different school. At their school, there are actually 4 kids that work with Mrs. Robinett (it’s actually her home base) and they provide each other a lot of support. The school is brand new, with the best technology -Mrs. Robinett has already had VI programs installed and larger screens- as well as being bright with lots of contrast. Fox’s present school is 30 years old, which is not a sin except that it is a dark claustrophobic brown cave, and not at all conducive to a person with a VI. He is not flourishing there; he is never excited when he leaves for school anymore. In the two years since he started wearing hats and sunglasses full time, he’s never been teased-that is, until he moved to this school 8 months ago. The spark in my Fox’s eyes has dimmed, and I want it back.
So we are venturing into the bright beautiful school to beg for a variance to move Fox over next year. I’m not holding out a lot of hope. Even with an IEP, all schools in Utah are overcrowded and there are only so many openings. The principal has already spoke to Mrs. Robinett and unfortunately it doesn’t appear that he’s too sympathetic. We could try another school such as the one he went to before we moved last year, but then he’ll be going to a different Junior High and High school than the kids he went to Elementary with, and that’s not the best social situation to throw him into as he becomes a teen. As he gets older, Fox will need really good and really supportive friends, the kind you have after investing many years into the friendship.
Fourteen years later, I’m just as nervous to enter back into the principal’s office, but this time it’s not for some petty cause or desire to be a hero to my peers. I go for my son. The nerves come because I know how much of a positive difference this can make in his young life, and frankly, the kid deserves a break. His life will be hard enough . Mrs. Robinett told me the other day that I need to fight every step of the way for him, because that’s how he will learn to fight for himself as a blind man.
I NEED to do this.
I HAVE to do this.
I CAN DO THIS!!!!!!
But just in case, send a few prayers our way, okay?