When your child is nailed as a special needs kid, the school system gives him or her an Individualized Education Plan, or IEP. Once a year the parents get together with the teachers, the principal, and any and all therapists, psychologists, etc who have been working with your child. And you talk. How the kid’s doing at school, how s/he’s functioning on the playground, socially, etc. Everyone gives a report.

Here I sit, an hour and twenty minutes away from Joseph’s IEP, and I’ve got the jitters. They did a comprehensive testing this year, even hiring an outside psychologist to evaluate my son. Gasp. I’m sure glad they don’t examine me like this every year!

This school year I’ve helped out in Joseph’s classroom every two weeks, and it’s been an eye opener to see him in action. Last Thursday, for instance, he was out for testing with the Special Ed teacher. When he came back, he was supposed to join some of the other kids over at the kindergarten to help a kid read.  His teacher, Mrs. Crosby, explained this to him and said she’d watch out the window as he went.

But Joseph wasn’t having any of that. He stopped, rubbed his face, and looked dismayed. “It’s — it’s — it’s too much,” he said, anxiety creeping into his voice.

Mrs. Crosby couldn’t leave, as she had other kids in the class. The aide was already at the kindergarten. Naturally, I volunteered to walk him over, and I did.

I just didn’t know he’d need help walking from one building to the next.

It was a 30-second walk.

These are the kinds of things I’ve learned from being in the classroom one morning every two weeks.

I’ve learned that Joseph really does needs his aide. Not all the time, but when he needs her, he needs her. It’s hard for him to pay full attention to everything he’s supposed to pay attention to. He needs more movement than many of the other kids. The aide keeps him focused and also has him get up from his seat to go to a quiet corner of the room for something like reading. He gets to use the white board for stuff sometimes. Just that little bit of moving around and standing to write helps him out.

We are incredibly fortunate to be in such a supportive school. They make it work for Joseph. He’s doing well academically — not brilliantly, but well enough. I know that school will get harder as the years go by, and I hope and pray that Joseph can keep up — not only academically, but socially, as well.

I guess that’s what the jitters are about. Are they going to tell me that my kid — my beloved, amazing child — has problems I’m unaware of? Are they going to take his aide away for next year? Are they going to see him as a “case,” with data and facts, while I see him with a mother’s loving heart? Am I going to cry in front of them? It’s such a vulnerable position for a parent.

Well, time to breathe myself back into the moment. Time to quiet my mind, open my heart, and claim my trust in God.

Oh, yeah. Breath. Trust. Quiet.

Steady, girl. Here we go.