I have been told recently that life isn’t fair.
The context of this statement, though, is what rattled me. As I’m sure you can guess, the circumstances revolved around this little girl:
You see, the political climate being what it is these days, I found myself in a debate of sorts with a dear family member about school choice and the impact that it has on children with disabilities.
Throughout our conversation, I was told about the great “special needs schools” that my daughter could attend. Schools that “specialize” in her “special needs.” Schools that are “specially equipped” to “handle” the “special care” of our “special girl.”
I tried to get someone to explain to me why it is that Girlfriend needs all this “special stuff,” most especially when research indicates time and time again that what is actually best for her is to be educated in a typical classroom alongside her typical peers.
(I mean, if you ask me, while she may be hard to understand, she’s kind of a standard three-year-old.)
I bowed out of the conversation there.
Here’s the thing.
Down syndrome isn’t the reason that life is unfair for Tessa. It’s not shitty. People are. Down syndrome is not some awful life experience to overcome, but the belief that it is awful, is a problem.
Our fight to keep Tessa in a regular classroom is very much about her, but it’s also about any other child who walks through the door of that school building – or any building.
(It’s also about the law, though that pesky little thing seems to be lost on a lot of people these days.)
Not pity. Acceptance.
Not charity. Kindness.
Not escorting off into some “special place” for their “special needs.” Inclusion.
It hits you right in the gut when the fight is so close to home. It is bad enough when perfect strangers are the culprit, but let’s be honest, it’s a thousand times more discouraging when people who know and love our sweet girl still don’t get it.
We’re not settling for special.