Mama Bear

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High anxiety runs in my family. My daughter is lucky to have it as well. I say this with sarcasm, of course. Anyway, the term “mama bear” is how most mothers feel towards protecting their babies. I feel like in my journey as a parent it is intensified by my anxiety as well as having a daughter with special needs.

Now, some people don’t consider her special needs since her disabilities (or extra abilities) are invisible. When they are visible they tend to look like a brat throwing a fit. This is where people need to be educated and compassionate. Not all disabilities are visible. I have heard people say that Abigail is “just attention seeking” or “she just needs more spanking” or “needs consistency” and “more discipline.”

I am not saying I have all the answers. If I did, this would be much easier. I am saying that people, especially those who work with special needs children, should be more educated, aware, compassionate and empathetic towards kids. Instead of just ranting in generalizations, I will give you an example of the most recent headache I had to deal with these past couple weeks.

Abigail rides on the special education bus with the district and they take her to another town that has a special school for kids with behavioral disorders. She has been there since 1st grade and she is now in the 3rd grade. It is a long ride, over an hour both ways due to all the pick ups and drop offs along the way. This school year has been rough since the bus driver she has is not friendly or punctual. She is controlling and tends to do things her own way even if it is against policy and procedure. She seems to prefer the other children on the bus who are non-verbal and singles out the other kids who have behavioral issues. These are the little things that I cannot change like her personality and her crabbiness, but there are other things that are not acceptable, ever. Like being late by at least 10-15 minutes each morning, not communicating with transportation/dispatch when she will be 20-30 minutes behind her route schedule. Most recently, she dropped off my daughter at home and didn’t confirm she got inside before driving off.

Yes. You read that correctly. She dropped my 8 year old off, outside of my apartment complex and did not confirm she went up the stairs and got into the door safely. This made me livid. This happened a couple days ago but I am still very angry about it and I let everyone know. The reason I found out was because my daughter told me, and she knows I keep her safe. This whole dropping off at home with no parent at home is a new thing for us that just started 2 weeks ago. I didn’t want her to be home alone, but I had no choice, time or money to find other options. She is responsible and only home for a short while so I totally trust her. I turned on one of my old cell phones for her to call or text when she gets inside the home. This day, she called and told me that they dropped her off and before she even got to the staircase they drove away! I called transportation right away.

I spoke with the supervisor, who is already aware of everything else that had been going on this school year and I told him what had happened. I was very upset and made it clear that this isn’t acceptable, no excuse. Abigail is their responsibility until she gets in the door. He said that the driver has told him a few times that she cannot see the door from where the bus is parked outside the apartments. This is not true. Had this been true, I wouldn’t have even been able to have them drop her off. When I signed the liability release to have Abigail dropped off at home with no parent present, they said they have to confirm her getting in the door. I told them this is a possibility. I asked if one of the two bus aides could get out and walk her to the door, but this is against policy. So, what had been working was the bus aide would go to the back of the bus and watch Abigail go to the second floor and go into our front door. If the bus driver would like to confirm herself, then she could easily just not pull the bus up as far, but that would be too simple. Luckily, with two bus aides, someone is able to wave to Abigail and know she made it inside before they pull away.

The dispatch/transportation supervisor had the nerve to say to me that he will speak with the bus driver since right now we are only going off of what Abigail said. He also said that he would like to remind me that I signed a liability release. I told him yes, I know this but that was with the caveat that they would confirm Abigail got inside safely. I felt like we were being blamed for their negligence. On top of all of this, I have high anxiety and I am already nervous about Abigail being on that bus over two hours per day, with a woman who couldn’t care less about her safety and well-being. It seemed like each time I raised these concerns and complaints both verbally and in writing to transportation and the school district, it was brushed off like no big deal. I will not allow something to happen to Abigail that is easily preventable. This is not going to turn into some horrible news headline where everyone is commenting how it could have been prevented. I cannot believe how much the supervisor allows this woman to control the situation. He is intimidated by her because it is civil service it is just too difficult to apply progressive discipline.

I got home that evening and typed up a long, detailed complaint to the district. No one responded. However, I did get a call from the transportation supervisors manager (because of a message I left at the district office) and he seemed to have the same attitude that there isn’t much they can do unless something actually happens. They can address her being late and also not confirming that Abigail made it inside safely. He said the driver claimed that it was just a misunderstanding, she thought Abigail made it inside. He said he told her no more assuming. This has no room for error.

I just thank God that Abigail is able to speak and able to tell me when things are not handled correctly. I feel so sorry for parents of children who are non-verbal and count on people like this with their children each day. I know some people may think I am over reacting and blowing this out of proportion, but they are not in my shoes. Also, do you have high anxiety? I admit that I do and it causes my brain to think of worst case scenarios and how to possibly prevent things from happening that may never happen. I am working on my own issues as well, which I will save for another blog. I think this is enough ranting for the time being.

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