Friday, May 8, 2009

Mother's Day Gift: The Shaft

I just got the shaft. Ripped off, cheated like I cannot recall having been shafted in the past.

Last night I carefully selected my "business casual" outfit as the invitation required. I took out Addie's fanciest dress and rubbed at the little ice cream marks she acquired at her cousin's first communion celebration last weekend. Today we intended to look a lovely as possible.

After Addie and I were all polished up this morning and I dropped the girls off at school, I had an hour to kill before arriving at the junior kindergarten Mother's Day Tea at Addie's school. I reminisced about the first and only other such event I attended 5 years ago when Cate and her class hosted. I remember nearly every minute of it - the kids riled up to have their mothers at school, yet trying their best to keep with the prim and reserved theme of the celebration. I remember the songs they sang at choppy speeds and varied volumes and I remember the first time I was presented with the shrinky dink pin she made that I still wear on my purple trench coat. I remember chatting with the mothers beforehand as we awaited our escorts and getting to know them better as our tea and muffins were served, laughing and marveling at all the things that make us one as mothers.

Today's event with Addie was front loaded with that memory, with the fact that it would be my last opportunity for tea at school as she is my youngest. She did so spectacular at the winter concert, that I dared to form a few expectations this time. There were things programmed into her device that I was to resist peeking at. I expected to cry, to be torn between taking photos and just soaking it in without electronics between me and my amazing girl. I looked forward to chatting with some moms I haven't had much chance to get to know this year.

When we arrived, Addie came to get me in the hall, as the other kids got their mothers. But Addie headed for the door instead of back to her classroom. She thought it was time to go. Finally, I coaxed her back to the room.

We were to sit at the little tables the kids sit at and put on our paper MOM crowns that they worked on for us (the symmetry and organization of jewels on mine made it clear that Addie had little to do with making it). When I found our spot, I saw Addie's special ed teacher and her speech therapist talking and adjusting her communication device. I thought - wow, this is going to be some shindig, if she has not one, but 2 assistants for this.

Our table was right next to the buffet of muffins and cookies. Very difficult for Addie to resist. She flirted with taking one and raced around the room a bit as the other mother/kindergartner pairs found their spots. I managed to get her settled in on my lap, but could tell by her fidgeting, that this would be a short-lived position. When she wrestled away, things were beginning. I stayed in my seat.

Addie left the room. The special ed teacher and the SLP were gone. It was then that I realized with a start that I was on duty. I jumped up and left the room to go find Addie in the hall, missing the welcome the classroom teacher was giving at that moment.

The kids were then lined up to sing their songs. Addie was the leader - she was to hit the button with the recorded song on her device to cue the other kids to begin. But no one had turned the volume up, so the kids did not hear it. The teacher had to start them off. So while Addie still hit the button, it had no purpose, it did not start the singing off. It became just a gesture.

After the songs there was a short slide show, which I missed most of as I tried to distract Addie to stay and watch, to keep the humming and growling she does a bit quieter so the other moms could work up the tears of sentiment that I had planned on shedding.

During the rest of it, I chased Addie, took things out of her hands, tried to engage her in something that would not have her getting in the way of others posing for photos, that would not have her leaving the room, that would be safe for her.

She may have practiced the songs with the class and teachers, but no one practiced with her what she should do when all routine is routed out of the morning and replaced with what seems like a party, but a party with a lot of rules that weren't adapted for her understanding. She did not have a clue what to do. And though Addie has an aide with her at all times at school, this hour was deemed aide free as I discovered on my own. I guess because I was going to be there.

So I didn't cry any tears of pride or love or general gush. I didn't get to know other mothers, I didn't etch another sweet memory to line up next to the first one.

I sweated, I chased, I hushed, I clenched my jaw...all in front of the other mothers. Where I expected to chat about things we have in common, instead I demonstrated all that's different for us to the lot of them at once.

In short, it sucked. For both Addie and I.

I trust I will find healthy perspective of this eventually, but I'm not even going to try looking for it for a few hours.


angie said...

I am so mad with you Terri. That is just not right that they did not have her aide there with her. She was still in school for that hour, and to have you there as the "one in charge" I'm sure threw her off. That was not a good position for either of you.

I'm sorry that the day did not turn out as you had planned.

I hope that you have a good Mother's Day with your 2 precious girls.

Jessica mommy to Alex/ RTS said...

I suspect it never is easy even year down the road, when we are reminded of how different our lives with our precious, perfectly different children are. I wish I could have been there with you, Alex shaking his head as fast as he can so he can see the light on the ceiling whiz by, while Addie ran out of the room. We could have sat smiled, and stolen cakes off the table with each other:)
Thinking of you, there with you in spirit,
LOVE, Jessica and Alex

Myssie said...

Oh Terri, I am so sorry. I can't believe that the aide just totally flaked out on you like that. What the Heck!! I hope that Sunday brings you happy Mother's Day memories!!

Cindy said...

I am so sorry, Teri! I can TOTALLY see that happening...doesn't it happen all the time when it is our responsibility to take care of our kids, and now even when someone else was supposed to guide her. I'm sorry it happened to you, but thanks for sharing, because it will be a reminder for me to speak up in advance to make sure someone is taking care of Natalie when they should be, so she is more comfortable, and so we can enjoy the event.

Kelly said...

In a perfect world....all of our kids would be together in one classroom and us RTS mom's would sit together and talk (and steal muffins as Jessica suggested) and we would cry and giggle over the perfectly planned and executed program. Alas...we live in a the real world and sometimes sucky things like your tea happen. I wish they didn't! Hope Sunday brings you fun moments with Addie that will overshadow the school event.

Kelly W.

Tena said...

*hugs* I just finished a huge rant of my own about a similar "RTS sucks" experience this weekend. more *hugs*

Anonymous said...

shit. that sucks. it just does. so sorry.

Brandi said...

I always admire your strength and ability to see the good things in all of Addie's situations. In fact, it has helped me to look at Nathan's life differently. I know this was a rough one, but as time passes and you reflect more, I'm sure the positives will show up somewhere. As a teacher myself, I am disappointed that a plan was not in place prior to you being there. Addie's day is sooooo structured and to throw this at her without a plan by her teachers was a disservice to her. Have you thought about talking to her teachers regarding what happened so that the next time you are invited the same thing doesn't happen? If it were me, as Addie's teacher, I would totally want to know what happened.

Hugs to you my dear, strong, courageous friend.