Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Messages in The Madness



For several years I have worked with a woman who is both an excellent nurse and really good company. She also has a tendency to mix metaphors and create malapropisms that stick with me for years after I hear them.

One of the first I remember was when she was pretty sure about her opinion of a situation, but not COMPLETELY sure. She told me "not to hold her to it with a fine tooth comb." Now I would never have thought to hold anyone to anything with a fine tooth comb... but I do now. So be careful around me and hair tools.

Another time she was suspicious that someone at work had ulterior motives (which I am sure they did.) She told me to be careful because "there's something wet in the water." Of course, everything in water is wet, but I did not mention this to her--wouldn't dare!

But my favorite by far is her frequent assertion that there's a "message to her madness."

She's distorted a phrase, but it isn't really a bad idea.

When dealing with all the chaos: the kids, the meetings, the policy issues, the opportunities, the barriers, the rest of your life, etc, etc, etc... it is a good idea to have a few guiding principles--some message in the madness.

A consistent (though not rigid) set of beliefs can be very helpful... though they can lead to surprising places.

I went to a conference when Jenn was a baby where the speaker taught us all to ask "Where does this lead?" about the big and little decisions we would face in our daughter's life.

So when we consider doing things for our daughter or showing her how to do them herself we try to ask...

When we choose activities...

When we teach and discipline...

When we make plans...

And when we choose programs...

When we advocate personally and systemically...

This year, for the first time, we have chosen a special education program at a special education school for my daughter rather than having her included in our local school for her program. This was an agonizing decision for me--completely shocking in fact, but in the end it was the question "Where does this lead?" that cleared the path.

As we looked at our local high school and looked at the other possibilities available in our community we came to the reluctant realization that she would actually be more sheltered and less independent at our high school than at the special education school.

Our vision for our daughter's eventual life based on her own interests and choices (and not on any system's offerings, rules or shortcomings) has not changed. Her sense of herself as independent is crucial to this vision so we made our choice accordingly.

We believe.

(And if that proves wrong we will change it!! Trust me on this.)

She started there this summer. She likes it and it seems to be going well...

The message stays the same, but the path? That twists and turns. It's madness!

Picture from here.

6 comments:

therextras said...

Excellent, Terri. No madness about it - you are showing other parents the way.

My heartfelt thanks. Barbara

rickismom said...

good point. I also put Ricki in special ed this year (even tho' theoretically I would want inclusion...), because in REAL situation, that was the best choice.

terena said...

that is a brilliant metaphor! I'll remember that one. sums up things perfectly.

It sounds like you made an excellent choice for your child. Those decisions are so hard to make.

Terri said...

Thank you, Barbara...

Rickismom, thanks. We chose this program BECAUSE our goal is inclusion... as strange as it seems! I was following you making the same decision, but it took me a while to process things.

Thanks Terena... this woman is great to work with and she comes up with some doozies... this one works for me too. We do think (and hope) it was the right choice, and you're right these choices are hard. Thanks!

Candace said...

Hi Terri, Nice to meet you! What a great post, I really plan to use this when approaching major decisions with our daughter, Faith. I look foward to reading more from you!!!

starrlife said...

What a great post, nicely phrased, malapropisms and all! That co-worker sounds like a jewel!