Wednesday, February 13, 2013

my reputation, bruised and healed

Reputation. It’s something that is pretty valuable to a person, especially to a Christian. Most people like to think they have a decent reputation and that people know they can be trusted and liked.   

I always knew that the first few years of our experience with Tate’s public school education had probably bruised my reputation somewhat. Back then, I had to argue, write complaint letters, and even consult with the state board of education about getting a free and appropriate education for my son with autism. I begged a couple of times with tears, and once, after Tate’s para was taken from him and given to a child with greater needs, I had a meeting with the ones in control and yelled. That was the first and only time in my life I have ever yelled at anyone I was not related to (ha.) Although I didn’t say anything obscene or untrue, I’m sure I probably should have handled it differently. The one who held the reigns of Tate’s IEP and I often did not agree on what Tate's education should entail. I felt like I was at the mercy of a system that had no mercy. Consequently, my own reputation was damaged in dealing with the public school staff and trying to obtain greater services for my son. 

And then.... our rural school was closed and we were forced to move our children to town for an education. I could feel the staff tense up when I walked into a school building. Never mind that I had five older children who had been to the Junior High and High School in town and I had NEVER caused a single wave. Never mind that I had NEVER had a problem with a single general education teacher or principal at any level. Never mind that I loudly sang the praises of almost every para Tate had ever been assigned. I got a reputation from the whispering about how I had fought for my son's right to an appropriate education.

Today, I heard from someone (an educator) I have learned to respect and admire very much. That person said one of the nicest things I have heard since we moved to town. Although I cannot quote it word for word, it was something like this:  “You had a reputation when you moved your kids to town. We heard awful things about you. Not one of them turned out to be true. Now, when someone tries to say that you are not easy to get along with, one of us always says, ‘She is not like that at all. She is very reasonable and she only wants what is best for her kids.’” I was very touched. I hope I can always be the mother I am supposed to be to Tate and Sydney and advocate without ever having to cry, beg, and yell again. Somehow I doubt that will happen but I do know I can do it. I can cry, beg, and yell, still be okay with God, and heal my reputation with men in the end. 

Thanks for reading. 

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