House of Cards
You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
Know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done
Kenny Rogers, The Gambler, United Artists, 1978
I’d woken up to an email with the news that a school we’d wanted for Pudding had declined her admission. Really it shouldn’t have been a surprise. I’d sent them all her reports and evaluations, and I’d been very explicit about her needs. I’d made sure they’d seen the worst of her. Wherever she ends up going to school, they have to be able to accommodate her at her very worst. Even if most of the time she performs well, I need to have the confidence that she can be supported at all times, or I just can’t let her go. I can’t. The preschool was part of a regular international school, it would have been a stretch for them, and for Pudding too.
I’d thought they’d get to see her at her best, but they won’t get a chance now. They folded. Their loss.
I’d let myself hope that with an aide, and outside therapies, it could work. I’d let myself hope for inclusion, and much needed socialization with typically developing peers. Her friends and classmates would be other families like us.
But more than that.
I’d pictured a scenario where she went to the local international school on the bus, rather than driving several miles day in, day out, to a special school. Not only would she be like the other kids, but I’d get to be like the other parents. I’d be able to consider returning to work. I imagined a life with two incomes, less money stresses, being able to provide for both kids’ needs. I don’t know when this started to matter, but somehow I’d stacked up a house of cards, and it had to come crashing down. My loss.
The rest of my day was busy, but my mind didn’t wander far from the email. I returned home from Pudding’s occupational therapy, and set back to work on my quest for the elusive perfect school. We have options, and some of them are very good, but they aren’t very convenient. And they won’t involve an inclusive setting. Her loss? Perhaps, perhaps not.
It would have been a gamble, to see if she could handle it. We weren’t trying it because she was ready, because it was time. My gamble, not hers. My high-roller could have come out winning, but she could just have easily gone bust. I was playing my hand, not hers. It is for the best. The stakes were too high.
Now we are dealt another hand. I don’t know if there is a pit boss, but I do know the house always wins. Whichever school is lucky enough to get my girl will hit the jackpot. And as for socialization with typical peers, I’ll find some aces to stash up my sleeve.
These cards we have been dealt aren’t so bad. We needed a shuffle, to learn how to play properly. Every hand can be a winner. I have to believe that.