I hate to correct people. It’s my job and I still hate it. In my worst mood, I explain what a comma splice is by trying to compliment my students and express how difficult the concept is so they don’t feel discouraged.
I don’t like sending food back. It’s not because I am concerned about what they’ll do- perhaps that’s a naive and blind trust in the people who serve food, but I just don’t want to make their day harder.
And don’t even talk to me about how I feel if someone cuts my hair and I am unsure that I like it. They’ll ask me how I want layers or bangs and I’m rendered useless and defer to their expertise.
So an environment in which I excelled- school, my calling- where I had confidence, education, career path, now is a place of unsteady footing.
You see, now I’m on the other side of the table. I’m in the “you’re the expert” mode. I am learning to advocate, while simultaneously aware that I must begin the undertaking of empowering him to advocate for himself. I have to ask for more than was offered. I have felt incompetent. I have felt emotional. I hate that these meetings come with a tension that shouldn’t exist. This is not how it was intended. But money, resources, and a tug of war on diagnoses cloud it all.
I find such a tension between loving others, especially the professionals who care so much for Obie, and advocacy for him.
Interestingly, my voice has evolved from acceptance of less than ideal circumstances to a more confident request of what we believe is right for Obie. And it didn’t just happen within the walls of the schools. It has grown stronger in every encounter- from church to school, and from playgrounds to doctor’s offices. My hope is that my voice will grow stronger with time, and my prayer is that I will always approach the other side of the table with the same grace and compassion that has been shown to me.