Yo soy La Lay

adventures in family, faith, and Down syndrome

The Back Row

on May 18, 2014

My goodness, I love graduation. My squirrelly little freshmen who can’t sit still in Spanish One morph into goofy sophomores and sarcastic juniors and then suddenly they are walking back to their folding chair on the football field, diploma in hand, beaming like they won the lottery.

Every kid smiles at graduation. Every. Single. One. It’s lovely.

My charges were a group of 13 students, 10 boys and three girls (the kind of male/female ratio that I seem to be handed very frequently these days). We were the second-to-last row. I knew most of them pretty well. As we sat in the line-up room, they were sassy, but fun.

“Why can’t I have my cell phone? I want a selfie with the principal.”

“What if I trip on purpose? What if we all do? That’d be awesome.”

“Is this gonna take forever? I’m so done with this school.”

By the end, they were jubilant yet reserved. Sad it was over, thrilled at their accomplishment.

I love graduation.

Still, the ceremony tugged at my heartstrings more than usual this year. Because here I sat, in the second-to-last row, and quietly observed the back row… the row where our “Vocational Ed” Special Needs students were grouped together with their aides. The row where every child in the graduating class with Down syndrome was seated.

Not my child.

Most schools don’t seem to do Inclusion well… especially not high schools. We aren’t near school-age yet with Tessa and yet I already feel like I’m suiting up for battle with an education system that I am a part of. At the same time, I’m really annoyed. Annoyed that I have to suit up. Annoyed that in order for Tessa to have the same access to education that Ellie will get with no question, I have to fight people. That’s obnoxious.

Thankfully, I’ve never minded being a trailblazer for things I believe in. I’ve got some years to build up my armor and I’ll be ready.

Nobody puts my baby in a corner… or a back row… unless, of course, her alphabetical seat assignment puts her there.


2 responses to “The Back Row

  1. Andrea says:

    And, just maybe, Tessa will be a woman of many words like her momma. Just maybe, she’ll be up there in that front row waiting to send her friends off with an inspiring speech. With your support, I can’t wait to see what is possible for that girl!

  2. Mary Wolodkiewicz says:

    Sometimes it takes new “Eyes” to implement change. I hope it is simply that the educators never thought to put all of the students in the respective seating like alphabetical order! You go girl!

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