Referring to my "The Future?" post from the other day, my friend made fun of me (good-naturedly, of course) for not remembering all the details of tonight's choice encounter, so let me just start this off by saying, no, I didn't remember all the tiny details. I don't even remember the girl's name, but tonight I had another "Part of the Club" encounter, only of the opposite variety. Like, the part where come to find out maybe you DON'T belong, or so people would like to have you believe.
Instead of running here to write about it, I came in the house, set Rainer down, helped the kids doff (<---there's a good PT word straight from the bowels of an IEP if I have ever heard one) their jackets and ran to the phone to call my Mama in Arms, C. Sure, Alex and I discussed it on the ride home from the Y, but there's something about another mom's perspective that you just can't find even from the capable mind of your mate and co-parent. Funny thing? I've never really been a gal pal kind of person, or a phone person (since middle school) for that matter. But that was in the past. These days, I can't tell you how important it is that I have some Friends Who Know in my speed dial.
On the one hand, I am worried I am making this out to be a bigger deal than it is, but on the other, when I boil it down, it chaps my hide that I can't take a lousy little dance class at the YMCA (oh, that's right, they are going by just The Y now...wanted to drop the "Christian" out of their names...interesting) for granted.
I will be the first to admit that I made a mistake. I had to go and mention developmental delay. Thing is, I don't want people to pre-judge my child, but I also don't like playing games. I don't want people to be taken by surprise, and I am too bloody trusting that they are going to come into a relationship with her (with us) with an open mind. I go back and forth on this one. Do I TELL the instructor of the dance class about DS before signing her up, or do I waltz on in there, drop her off and wait for her to pick her chin up off the floor?
I am being unfair. I know that.
Unfair because not every dance intructor (or, fill in the blank with whatever coach, instructor, teacher you want) is going to look twice at my daughter, but let's face it. Some--many?--will.
Let me backtrack. I am getting ahead of myself.
You see, there is a dance class in the evenings at The Y where we are members (I was going to say "belong," but...) and I happened to notice that it is for kids ages 4-7. My first thought was that 4-7 is a pretty wide range...you know, developmentally. So I was thinking. "Well, it's The Y, it's not Pre-Julliard for tiny tots." My second thought was, "What typical four year old follows all the directions anyway???"
...Maybe this is something we can sign G up for. Give her a chance to see how she does following directions away from home and outside the classroom. She dances along with her Hi-5 videos and knows all the moves, she loves music, she needs a little exercise, this could be the thing! She's not exactly a girlie-girl, but the class doesn't even require tutus. It's The Y! Comfortable attire is okay!... (Not, as Alex reminded me, that we wouldn't want her to don (<---IEP word) a tutu for cuteness' sake of course!)
ANYHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.....so you catch a glimpse of how my brain works.
Tonight we went to the Y as a family since we are all trying to get back (back? hahahahhahahahahaha) in shape. (I should say, the kids just go play in the childwatch, and half to reason we go is so we can get away from the incessant whining from 5-6:30 or thereabouts, but you know what I mean.) I worked out on the elliptical and the bike for awhile, while Alex rowed his little heart out. All the while, I kept noticing little kids over in the corner near one of the dance/aerobics rooms. (Kids in sweatpants, mind you.) After I finished exercising I was sucking down water and looking at the class schedule and I realized it was the dance class. "Well, shoot," I thought, "I wished I had known. I woulda' peeked in."
What I wanted to know is whether or not all the kids were following instructions. I wanted to know if there were any naval-gazers, or kids just hanging out on the side of the room observing. I wanted to try to imagine G in a class like that. Is it something she could do? Would she like it? Would the teacher be totally miffed if one of her wee charges was hanging from the barre like a monkey instead of Jeté, pas...er...-ing (believe it or not, I spent a few years at the barre in Ms. Lee Lund's dance class, mofos) with the rest of the tykes? I mean, I THOUGHT I knew the answer, (let's recap: ages 4-7, YMC-, I mean, The Y, sweatpants instead of tutus, the class is not even called ballet ANYWAY, but something like "Little Movers")...
But I? I am a worrier.
I don't like to put people out. I missed observing the class, but I wanted to talk to the teacher. Ask her about it. See what her take might be on kids who don't always...okay, okay...listen.
But she was no longer there.
The dance instructor, ladies and gents, had left the building.
A kind of receptionist? Well, I don't know what her position was, actually, but she wore a blue The Y polo shirt. (See, C, I do remember some details!) Asked me...
"Is there something I can help you with?"
Have I not learned to keep my fat mouth shut yet, people?
"Well, I was wondering about the dance class because..."
Honestly, I didn't really know what I wanted to ask. I know why I wanted to observe, but putting it into words that someone else might understand is difficult. I wanted to know if my kid was going to stick out like a sore thumb. If she was going to drive some hapless teacher crazy. If she was going to look cuckoo if she was the only one watching instead of doing. These are all things I could figure out on my own if I just observed the dang class without having to let anyone else in on the crazy.
"The age range, I saw is 4-7, which seems kind of broad. So I was just wondering, my daughter is 4, but..."
SHUT UP, TRICIA!!!!!!! STOP TALKING!!!!! NOT EVERYONE HAS TO KNOW EVERYTHING!!!!
But. I am honest to a goshdurn fault sometimes.
"She has some developmental delays and..."
Before I could go on. Before I could explain that I wanted to ask about how the class is run. If the other kids all listen, or if maybe some of the 6 and 7 year-olds listen, but the 4 and 5-year-olds are sort of hit and miss, you know...(not sure exactly how I was planning on wording this).
Little Miss Elementary Ed major (I know this, because she told me), interrupts me and says, "Oh no. We don't accept..." pause pause pause..."Well, I am an elemtary ed major and so I was going to say student, but we can't accept people? (You know how some people do that? With the question marks? in the middle of phrases? Where they don't belong?) with developmental delays? into our classes here at the Y?"
As she was talking I could feeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeel.........tiiiiiiiiiiimmmmmmmmmmeeeeeeeee.....
Are you asking me? I wondered.
It was one of those moments where as she is talking, my mind is working a million miles a minute and I am thinking, "This is one of those moments. This is one of those times where I need to fight or flight. How big of a foot is she going to cram into her mouth? Quick, Tricia, you "advocate," SAY SOMETHING!!!!!
Miss Elem. Ed. went on with some gibberish about how they can't accept people with developmental disabilies because they cannot provide assistants and while maybe I could aide my child in the class I would have to talk to the instructor about whether or not she would be okay with me taking the class with my daughter and, I quote, "Good thing it's too late to sign up now anyway."
There are so many things wrong with the assumptions she was making, I don't even know where to begin.
1. I never said my daughter would need an assistant.
2. "Developmental delay" is a pretty broad term smartie pants....it could mean a trillion different things, perhaps you should wait to hear more of the story.
3. The Y doesn't...wait...what???
4. Good thing? Good thing? For whom? Who is our being too late to sign up benefitting?????
I wish I could tell you I said some real kickass butt thing like...well...all of the above and more to Miss Smarty Pants, but the fact of the matter is, I didn't.
I think I said something like, "Oh. Uh. Okay. Um. Well, can I just get the name of the instructor and maybe I can talk to her about it?" or something like that.
I didn't even tell this to C, in fact, I think I am only remembering it now because I am too ashamed to let it sit anywhere near the front of my mind, but I think I even said something like, "Oh, okay, but...so...maybe I could get her babysitter to take the class with her?"
Who the cuss word am I?????????????????
Argh. And sigh.
On the way home I started to get really mad about it. Madder and madder. I asked Alex what he thought and I think he got madder and madder, too. I was entertaining the notion of calling her supervisor, not, honestly, to get her in trouble--I didn't even remember her name and were I to describe her she would have sounded like all the other college-girls who work there, but really, I didn't want to get her written up, or fired, or anything like that. I just wanted to know. I this seriously The Y's take on "people with developmental dielays?" This blanket statement? Or, perhaps, was she misinformed and...you know, if she is..maybe they oughta', you know...review the policies with the staff. Suggest to the staff that they tell members to talk to someone who knows what the H they are talking about when they don't know the answers (the correct answers) themselves???
But then I walked in the door and called C, and she talked me down, got me laughing. Told me one day that girl would maybe grow up and have a kid with developmental disabilities of her own and the words she said to me would haunt her like, admittedly some of my own preconceived notions of what it means to have a developmental disability before I became a mother of a child with them haunt me. She made me realize that if this young woman had any authority or status at The Y, chances are she would know how to talk to people and she wouldn't have said what she said. Had she any power at The Y she might eventually get around to telling me they wouldn't accept my child in their dance class, but they would have said it with a little more...tact? Or...discretion anyway.
Maybe. Oooorrrr....maybe it IS their policy? I guess I don't know this evening. But I intend to look into it.
My friend also assured me that though I felt like a doof for not saying anything worthwhile and put-her-in-her-place-y like I wish I had, that I am not alone in feeling impotent in those moments. I laughed when she told me a few things that I wish I WOULD have said, but admitted that were it her she probably wouldn't have thought of them at the time either. (Personally, I don't think she gives herself enough credit. She's a firecracker, that one.)
"Next time," she told me, "next time something like this happens, you should just smile and sort of laugh and say,'Oh, I'm sorry, can you go get your supervisor? That's who I MEANT to be talking with about this matter."
You know, kill 'em with kindness, but make them shake in their booties while you're doing it. ;)
Ahhhhhh. I hate it. The mind and word games. The worry every time I want to sign my kid up for a darn badminton class (hey, it could happen one day), that someone is going to tell me 'No. She is not welcome here.'
I will note that as Miss Genny Genius was looking up the dance instructor's schedule and phone number she yammered on and gave me the information I was actually looking for. "It's really more about just having a good time instead of dance. The older kids sometimes follow directions, but some of the younger kids just do their own thing."
Huh. Really? Really, Miss Future Teacher? So you think, then, that my kid (who no doubt you have seen me bring into the childwatch, so you already have some preconceived notions about her, don't think I am not on to you), my kid who does not cry like many of the other kids (including her typical brother), does not demand a lot of attention, sits and looks at books, dances around the room, or plays curiously with the various toys in the playroom, you think that that girl would need an assistant in a play-based multi-age not-even-close-to-Julliard-prep-not-really-a-dance-class?
Okay. Nice to know your opinion. Can I speak with your supervisor? Thanks.*
*I'm not really going to speak to her supervisor. But only because I don't want to waste my time or breath on the subject. Instead, I think I will observe the class one night with my own two eyes and then, when the class registration opens up again I will likely enroll Georgia in it. I might even have prance right by the reception desk wearing her brightly colored rainbow tutu.