For about the last three days I have heard parents everywhere I go saying, “I can’t wait until Christmas break is over!” I want to smack each and every one of these people in the face with a large, smelly fish. Mario dreads going back to school, and I dread sending him. I’m sure one big reason these kids are driving their folks nuts is that they are bored without their school friends. Mario has no friends.
The other kids don’t know what to make of him, with his stimming, his emotional immaturity, his exuberance that just isn’t cool for a big grown ass third grader, the way he clings to me or my mom when we visit the school, the fact that he has to be walked to class. They don’t know about his twisted and goofy sense of humor, or how much he loves to cook, the way he puts Legos together in a way the makers of the playsets didn’t know was possible, his budding filmmaking hobby, his ability to drive our golf cart better than his sixteen year old cousin, and the way he can hold a conversation with a grownup like a perfect little cocktail party gentleman, when he wants to. All they see is a guy who isn’t good at sports, who freaks out if their lunches get anywhere near him, who might dissolve into a puddle of tears on the gym floor if the music during an assembly is too loud.
Some of the teachers at school understand Mario’s issues and look out for him, but it’s at their discretion, because the school doesn’t recognize his diagnosis. School guidance counselors know more than psychiatrists! </sarcasm> Also, the principal refuses to listen to my complaints about bullying, because “they have a zero tolerance policy for bullying.” Yep, the fact that they have a zero tolerance policy means it’s not going on. More than one official has said that to me. Public school is not the place for my little man.
Unfortunately, home schooling is too risky, because it might give his father an opportunity to sue me for custody, since, as my attorney says, “judges don’t like homeschooling.” That is, the judges here in this rural county which is a hemorrhoid on the butthole of the Bible belt. If things don’t get better socially by middle school I’m homeschooling anyway, because by then Mario can talk to the judge himself. And we all know that middle school is where kids are at their most understanding of others’ quirks! So for now, my option is: the only private school in town, a dominionist school where they teach the type of science classes whose textbooks say things like, “We don’t know exactly how electricity works, just that it comes from God.” That tells you all you need to know about the town where we live, and why private school is right out too.
Oh, and we can’t move to a real city with more resources for autistic kids, because my ex’s lawyer is in the good ol’ boy network, and scored him Wednesday afternoon visitation right after school, even though I have primary custody. Sometimes it feels like Mario and I are trapped in the trash compactor in Star Wars, with the walls closing in, cold water rising, and something slithering around our legs.
So if you’re loudly bitching about how you can’t wait to send your kids back to school after the break, just consider how lucky and blessed you are that you feel that good about sending them back. And also, I invite you to pick an acre of my ass to kiss.