Who would have ever thought that I would be in the mental space that I am in when it comes to the girl turning 18. For months, if not years, I have anticipated this time when she will prepare to exit the traditional school setting of public education and enter into the world of adult services. I was eager to complete the often meaningless requirements, like world history, in favor of more purposeful opportunities. Eager to be done with the years of wondering if she is eating lunch alone. Just plain eager to be done.
And then the reality of adult services became evident and I began to see how much my life is going to change. I started to re-think all that eagerness.
Since the county that I live in is the worst in this already pathetic state for adult services, there isn’t much to pick from. Like many families, I am facing the reality of what little there is. And what little funding there is. So aside from the emotional aspect of this transition, there is a huge financial component that, when looked at beyond the near future, but more into the long-term, it can truly bring me to my knees.
The emotional ride reminds me when she was initially staffed into special education at age 4. I was devastated that she would be riding the “short bus”. I was wrapped up into that more so than anything else, at that time. I like to think that I was coping, but I may have been ignorant.
Once I realized that this little yellow bus was one of the most useful tools available to us, I embraced the idea of it terms of independence and a wonderful way for her to transition to school, without having to be pried out of the car.
The world of adult agencies offers me the same experience as the little bus. My initial thought of her going into one of “those places” initially mortified me. It was not going to happen. I dumped everything I had into employment opportunities when I realized that any vocational training or college was not going to be in our future.
Since she entered into 7th grade she has spent a portion of her school day in a work experience. Years of exploring jobs with the intent that after graduation she would be able to by-pass any of “those agencies” and slip into a job–unpaid or paid, did not matter. The goal was to just avoid the agency.
And here we are.
While she has some wonderful skills in a variety of job placements, the reality of her working for longer than two hours seems to be a distant hope. One that I will fight until the end to preserve, but the reality of what her days will look like is very much present.
Perhaps I will eventually see the gem within the agencies. It is my hope and personal work to embrace whatever it looks like for her. To embrace this as part of her journey and part of mine.