- the gate -
I built a new backyard gate a couple of days ago and a new matching fence is on the schedule. Decades of meter readers had beaten the old gate into a woody pulp on hinges, and mill-fresh dog-eared redwood planks are now stacked in the garage as I await a sign from the heavens to lift my butt off this chair and onto the west hill of Stately Amaya Manor to build the fence. But, alas, the venetian blinds here in my office are closed making the heavens invisible. Dang.
For the last couple of days my brain has been focused on my daughter's schooling. Yesterday we held the second of what we hope can be contained to three meetings to develop and agree upon her Individualized Education Program. Along with Amy's teachers, Viv and I have been putting in a lot of hours on creating measurable goals and objectives. Meanwhile, other school district personnel have been testing Amy and generating reports to discover what might be needed to support her free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment.
Yesterday, as hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of salaries sat on tiny plastic classroom chairs around a big table, we talked about what might be best for the girl. Each member of the IEP Team is a specialist, and each brings his or her own crystal ball to the meeting and we wave our hands over them to see if we can conjure an image of the girl and the right course of action. Numbers are crunched. Inklings are verbalized. Past experience is combed and coiffed. And everyone is very serious because failure is legally actionable.
Throughout this process I've been feeling the glare of a magnified view of Amy's disability. Attention must be paid, and I pay dearly with a heightened awareness of differences. Instead of celebrating similarities and bonds between children and parents and people in general, my lens is filtered for defects and insufficiencies. For the last five months we've been gathering data on what's wrong, measuring the lack, and there are times when such scrutiny feels like a betrayal, especially in the face of her innocence. We look at her limp while she parades and hear errors in her happy exclamations. I ache from the unfairness, and rage at how a father's gaze in wonder is undercut and bound by the need to find remedy. The effort carries weight, and gravity's pull is a force we reckon with daily.
So as I build my little fence and chuckle at metaphors and futilities, I feel a release in the swing of the hammer. I measure and cut as precisely as I can, and lay in the wood as straight as it will go. I will paint it and it will be bright and perfect. Just as I dreamed it would be.
"All The Things You Are" -- Stephane Grappelli -- STEPHANE GRAPPELLI PLAYS JEROME KERN
"Those whom you can make like themselves will, I promise you, like you very well."
- Lord Chesterfield