Susan's Blog

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Unexpected Flower

As a gardener I often forget what I’ve planted, and where despite having worked for a considerable amount of time at It is practically impossible to remember, unless you are meticulous and keep some sort of map of these things. That would imply that 1) I understand maps; and 2) I can draw aerial views of things.

The way I garden is the way I do everything: by feel, by trial-and-error. I do a lot of research during the fallow days of winter, and then, come spring, I plant whatever I want to in a frenzy of color-love, and hope for the best. If a place in my garden is depressingly blank, I stick something there, never realizing that last year’s July-blooming perennial was meant to fulfill the same purpose. Yesterday I noticed, out of the brown, an unfamiliar purple flower unfurling right in the middle of my purple flower area. WTF?? “I have these weird, gorgeous things that look like anemones,” I told Ned, who is utterly clueless about flowers. “When did I plant anemones –” and then, in a flash, I saw my mother handing me a bag of lumpy brown bulbs last spring. “Hey! My mother gave me a bag of anemone bulbs, I think!” Lo and behold: I have a ton of anemones, all of a sudden.

You may not know this, but I am making a party for Nat at the end of the month, two days before he moves out. I am having close family and as many of his friends — social group and school — that I can. Which ain’t many, although he actually has a lot of friends. (It is very tough getting to the kids in his class; his school is very protective of what they call “confidentiality,” to the point of almost paranoia. In their attempts to be all HIPAA about everything, they make it nearly impossible for our kids to have a social life. Ironic, eh? You can’t simply send in a sheaf of invitations and ask the teachers to put them in the backpacks, the way you can in public school. Well, I am going to try to change that somehow, perhaps in one of my manic phases…)

Yesterday I felt impelled to do something about cracking open Nat’s class. I paged through the very thin school contact list which contains the phone numbers of all families who’ve consented to being contacted by other families. (That is, all families who have the energy to fill out the consent form and send it back to the school. I’m convinced that most of the school’s families would love to be contacted by other families.) I seized upon the one other family from Nat’s class and called.

That mom was amazing. She was right where I was, in terms of our sons. Our boys are the same age. They have similar interests and struggles. Similar vocational interests (her son works in the school and outside in the town; Nat just landed a part-time job at a restaurant in the town) and experiences. We had similar fears about Post-22: how do you get them what they need from the state? Compared to state services, the public education years look like a happy fluffy dream come true.

She was so proud of him, just as he was. She was proud about all of his jobs; and so sad about her inability to meet all his needs and challenges. So down-to-earth, so honest. I have not experienced that kind of resonance with another parent in so long, if ever. Both she and I love the school, despite its flaws, and absolutely love the head teacher. And: her son has lived in the Residences, since he was 15. So she could tell me all about what it is like! We talked for a long, long time. I felt like I’d known her forever, when really, I had only just stumbled upon her, a beautiful bright thing in the middle of an otherwise dark day.


Most of these places have parent groups and monthly parent meetings for parents to meet and connect. Doesn’t the school offer that? I wish these places put as much effort into following all DOE guidelines and laws as they do into HIPPA confidentiality worries.

— added by Anonymous on Saturday, July 12, 2008 at 8:48 am

It would seem obvious to have a student directory for Nat’s school/class. It is not a privacy or HIPPA issue anymore than the PTO selling a directory of classes for every school as they so in my town. Parents can opt in or out of the listing and some do (mainly for reason of divorce) but given parental permission it is not a state secret to have a directory of your child’s classmates, etc. If the issue is disclosing a “disability” the time has come for the school to “get over themselves” in the name of socialization and inclusion for their students. Nat’s party is a perfect example. Who would want to miss that?

— added by Anonymous on Saturday, July 12, 2008 at 1:24 pm

I’m so glad you found this contact, a font of the identical information you’ve been seeking. Serendipity can be a positive thing. Be well. Lisa

— added by Anonymous on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 at 12:21 pm