Having big dogs definitely comes with challenges.
They eat more. They knock things over. Medications and surgeries cost more. They have more hair to shed all over your house and your clothes. They can reach food on the counter far too easily.
However, there are a lot of things I really like about having big dogs. They can be intimidating to strangers. No one in their right mind is going to enter my home uninvited. They are substantial enough that when I'm lonely and I really need someone to hug, they will suffice quite adequately if no human is available.
And lets get right to it: There is something empowering about looking your 95-pound Rottie mix in the eye and saying in a slightly sinister tone, "Down." And watching him hit the floor in abject submission to your authority.
Today my daughter is officially transferred to C's school.
Logistically, having kids in two different schools that begin and end at the same time, is a nightmare. You are practically forced into a situation where you must pay aftercare costs for at least one of them on the days that you are actually available to pick them up from school. And if you get delayed picking one of them up because of traffic, there is nothing that compensates for the trauma of a child who thinks they've been forgotten.
Add to that the extra half hour morning and evening that stopping at two different before/aftercare centers adds to my commute thereby turning what should be two hours into the car into three...its just not that workable. Its not that it can't be done -- its that I don't want to do it.
I went to C's school last Monday to see about requesting the transfer. I had taken vacation days and was doing yard/house stuff, so of course I was dressed casually. Capri's, an old t-shirt, flip-flops. No makeup. To my credit, I did wear deodorant and I had brushed my teeth. No, really. I asked the secretary about the transfer and she said I would need to talk to the principal.
The principal at our old school was so approachable, so friendly. She was also efficient and clearly in charge, but she would smile and ask how you were, inquire about how things were in a sincere way. I always felt she was really invested in the success of all of the students at the school.
Hence my shattered expectations.
I sat and waited, because I didn't have an appointment and because it being the second week of school, things are naturally busy. I didn't mind waiting.
She swept out of her office in her three-inch high heels, her expensive and form-fitted dress, her clearly gym-sculpted figure, her dark tank, immaculate nails, perfect makeup and sculpted hairdo. The secretary pointed her out to me, she made eye contact with me - and did not smile. She indicated the paperwork that I would need to fill out and advised me she was not making any decisions on transfer for several days as she needed to see how many new students she had and how much room there were in classes. Her tone of voice clearly implied "I don't wish to tell you yes. I am the Person In Charge here, understand?" OK, fine. I smiled at her in a friendly way: nothing.
Over the course of the week there was a little back and forth - special services wouldn't recommend that A ride C's bus, and of course with his aftercare outside of the boundaries for both schools, it wouldn't be workable for the transfer, so the transfer was initially denied.
Never understimate the willpower of a special needs mom.
After a morning well-spent on the phone with both the special needs director and the transportation office, the transportation director agreed that A could ride the bus with her brother. Keep in mind, we're not displacing anyone. There are four or five children on this bus, and its a full-size bus. We're not adding any extra stop- or drop-offs. Logistically, its pretty much a wash.
So after I talk with the transportation group, I get a call from the principal.
"I understand you've spoken with the transportation department."
Coolly I am informed that based on their agreement to transport her, my daughter can transfer to my son's school and start the following Monday - today. Awesome!
"Thank you so much, I really appreciate your help."
What do people normally say when thanked? What, it's not, "I must advise you that if the special services bus were to become full then your daughter would be unable to ride it and would need to transfer back to _______ . Do you understand this?" Whatever happened to saying "You're welcome?"
Dang. Its easy to recognize an alpha female, but rarely have I met any human being, alpha or not, that I couldn't establish a rapport with. Clearly my skills need honing.
Now I know all the special needs moms - and probably most of the moms of school aged kids - understand that your school staff are your most important and valuable allies when it comes to getting needs met and things done. I couldn't have survived the last few years without the help of the secretaries and the school nurse and our wonderful, lovely teachers - and of course, our principal.
All I need to do is to get her to crack a smile. Just one genuine smile.
I have my work cut out for me.