A special education meeting at your child’s school calls for your comfy underwear.
Not the frilly ones, not the ones that will creep up and become uncomfortable when you’re trying to pay attention, but ugly cotton briefs with a thick elastic waistband. The type of underwear that’s so unattractive that you would be mortified if you had a panic attack right there in the counselor’s office and the paramedics brought you to the hospital, and the entire emergency team realized that you were wearing ugly underwear.
But that’s not going to happen — probably — so it’s much more important that you can concentrate.
You’re also going to need the right outfit. This isn’t the time for cozy sweaters or servable fleece. You need something that says “I’m a mom who is well-versed in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.” You reach into your closet and pull out your blazer.
Purse, phone, binder packed full of documentation, you tear out of your driveway like Mario Andretti. But when you arrive at the school 15 minutes early, you worry that makes you look desperate, so you drive around the block for 10 minutes, burning up fuel. Then you zip into the parking lot and meet your husband.
“Stop sweating,” you tell him, and immediately feel horrible. “I mean, hello.”
“Why’s your hair so big?” he asks. “I mean, it looks great.”
“What’s wrong with my hair?” You slick it back into an emergency ponytail.
The two of you pull it together at the last second and walk into the school office as a united front.
The meeting does not go well.
“I’m sorry,” the school official says. “Since your daughter is reading at grade level, we can’t offer her any services.”
“But she has dyslexia and dysgraphia.” You point to the neurological assessments. “She needs a specialized phonics program to learn how to read, write and spell.”
“We have to spend $4,000 a year on private dyslexia tutoring just so our daughter can stay at grade level,” your husband adds.
“That’s wonderful,” the special ed teacher says. “Keep doing that.”
“But shouldn’t the school be meeting her needs?” your husband asks. “Our daughter has the right to a free and appropriate public education.”
You feel like you might explode. But you don’t explode, because if you spontaneously combusted right there in the special ed meeting, everyone would see your ugly underwear.
“I’m so frustrated,” you say to your husband as you walk back to the parking lot. “We’d have to let our daughter fail for the school district to her give her an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) and provide dyslexia intervention. All a 504 plan gives her is accommodations.”
“I know.” He hugs you. “But at least she gets extra time on tests.”
You go home and rip into a bag of chocolate chips.
It doesn’t matter what type of underwear you put on, school meetings are never comfortable.
You know what it’s like, special needs moms, because you’ve been there.
Jennifer Bardsley is author of the books “Genesis Girl” and “Damaged Goods.” Find her online on Instagram @the_ya_gal, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as The YA Gal.