Maggie has been a high school student for a full week now. She loves it. She loves the kids, the noise in the hallways, the bus ride, the teacher, everything.
Except the new schedule.
The morning bus is here at 7:10 A.M. That means she has to be dressed, cathed, fed, in her chair, hair brushed, talker programmed, oxygen tank filled, suction machine charged, everything loaded onto the back of her chair, down the elevator, through the basement and out in front of the house 75 minutes earlier than last year. Most of this happens while she is asleep. I finally wake her to put her jacket on and get her into the chair. She gets on the bus half-asleep.
This ungodly hour is forcing me to get things ready at night. I have a new system. I program the talker, put it in the bag and on the chair and park the chair where it can reach the charger. Same thing with the suction machine. That way they are charged and ready to go and already loaded. I have to do the oxygen in the morning because it would just bleed out overnight. That only takes a minute, though.
Her new classroom is very different from the middle school. The setting is a very large very bright room, which is great. It is a kitchen – two actually - and hearkens back to a day of better budgets when schools offered cooking classes. Apparently, an occasional class utilizes the ovens etc, and it will be part of the curriculum for Maggie’s class. That will give Maggie and her classmates the opportunity to mingle with the typical student population on their own “turf,” which is good.
There is another distinct change this year. Maggie is not the only student with a communication device. For the last two years in middle school, she was the only one routinely using the “talker”. She received A LOT of individual attention, which was great, and she was the QUEEN BEE for sure. Now, five of the six students in her class have them and use them. Maggie will have to earn the Queen Bee role now. (I have little doubt that will happen). Instead of the individual attention, Maggie will have to keep up with the other kids and that will likely result in huge strides in her abilities to manipulate the device.
When I went into the classroom, I was greeting the students. Three of the boys I know from before. There is one other boy and a girl that I did not know. I was greeting the girl and I heard a synthesized voice say, “Hi, my name is Juan. Hi my name is Juan.” It took me a minute to realize he was talking to me. (There is LOTS of activity). I went over to him and said “Hello Juan, I’m Sally, Maggie’s mom. It’s very nice to meet you.” He shook my hand, beamed at me and stole my heart.
I hope he and Maggie go to the prom.