When am I ever going to “get it?” When will I finally understand that even in the land of learning disabilities, my daughter isn’t typical?
We left Wednesday afternoon for Tennessee, to visit an amazing school for kids with learning issues. We drove til’ late, found a hotel and finished the drive Thursday morning. We arrived in Nashville around 11:00. It was sweltering hot. Riley’s appointment was at 1:00. After check-in and lunch, we drove to the campus, which was lovely.
We had prepared Riley. We talked about the teachers she was going to meet, going over their names, even looking at pictures on the school’s website. We explained that these ladies were her current teacher’s friends, and they were so happy to be meeting her.
When we got to the school, Riley’s hand gripped mine tightly. She was terrified. One of the women who was to evaluate her (for an hour and a half without mom), greeted us. She got down on Riley’s level, took her hands and introduced herself. Riley looked at the floor, and very sweetly, very articulately, said…”I’m not feeling used to you yet.”
We took a little walk up and down the halls while the teachers got things ready and then it was time to go to the office for Riley to do some academic activities. As soon as we entered the room, Riley saw the work on the table and I could see her worry wheels turning. Will I be able to do it? What if they ask me something I don’t know? I’m SCARED!
“I’m a little bit shy of them mommy!” she said.
Knowing they wanted Riley alone, I ignored her statement and told her, “I have to leave and I will be back in a very short time. You work with Ms. ____and mommy will be back very soon."
This might work with most kids. They might cry a little, but as soon as mother leaves they snap out of it.
Riley isn’t most kids.
Riley started to flip.
The teachers made a concession. I could sit in the doorway, with the door open, but by this point, Riley was too far gone. She was nearing hysteria.
“I’m not used to them!” she shouted, crying.
One of the teachers suggested a drink of water? We all hopped up and started walking down the hall.
As they went through some double doors, toward the water fountain, I made a fatal flaw. I slipped down the hall the opposite way toward the lobby.
I was hoping that in all the confusion…I was hoping with the walk distracting her……I was hoping with the drink of cool water…..I was hoping she‘d snap out of it, calm down, go with them, and get to work.
I was hoping she wouldn’t be Riley.
As soon as she noticed I was no longer with them Riley went into complete meltdown mode. She screamed bloody murder and I stood there, pressing my forehead into the brick wall, paralyzed, re-playing the scene in my head in fast motion. My God. She’s been traveling in a car all night, sleeping in a new place, more driving today, it’s 100 degrees, she’s never met these people, she did a good job of telling me she was scared, not used to them…..I completely disregarded her feelings and intuition….then I abandoned her in a new and scary place.
I walked into the room and no longer caring what these people thought, I scooped her up and said, “Riley. I’m sorry I left you. You told me you weren’t comfortable yet and I didn’t listen. I’m gonna stay right here.”
She looked up at me with her huge teary eyes and then buried her face in my shirt, clinging to me. After a few minutes, she calmed down. I was able to sit in a chair next to her while she breezed through the academic challenges they had in front of her.
I KNOW transitions are hard for my daughter. I KNOW she needs to be introduced to new situations slowly, on HER SCHEDULE, not anybody else’s. I KNOW this! So why…. after all this time…..am I still trying to make it different? Make her different?
When am I ever going to learn?