Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Different Road

I applied for a full-time gig this week, the position my college opened up was an awesome full-time prof position, closed, and now has re-opened as a full-time teaching slog. The good news is, I love teaching, so I'm all about the slog. Shame they did it so they don't have to pay as much.

The other good news is the change is likely to keep the grubby paws of academic hotshots off my job. Most academics aren't really into teaching. They are into their research, the world of publish-or-perish, the slog of conferences and journal publishers. They don't want to have a 6-7 course load each semester. And hey, since I haven't published anything, I'd be at serious disadvantage if it was a real prof gig.

Sitting in the park, I find myself in a sea of talk about therapies, strategies, methodologies. Our little group is planning how to get through the summer with our little group of kids. They have been together all year in a social skills group, but the facilitator left at the end of the program and won't be replaced until the fall. Andy is ADHD, the other kids are autistic, all of them less affected in oral communication than Joey. We are at the park, letting them play together with one of the attendants the one mom hires through her Medicaid waiver (though for the two hours we are in the park, he's being private-paid, since we're all using him), and the guy is awesome. Meanwhile, we are looking at our options, reviewing programs, tools, ideas for getting us together through the summer.

I'm fond of the program they have been using, Social Thinking, and we're going to adapt the Movie Time curriculum for abbreviated summer. The table is scattered with other tools. They all look awesome. There's a whole kit for emotion recognition, complete with velcro charts. There are lesson plans for programs, including the one we're going to do. There is talk of websites and camps and programs designed for our kids.

I wonder what parents of kids without special needs talk about.

I've never gotten to write my article about pilgrimage, I think sadly. I have all of this to learn about now. I don't even have time to think about India or stupas or ancient inscriptions. I now have to be an expert occupational therapist, speech therapist, behavior therapist, and psychologist. Oh, and a lawyer, teacher, and intervention specialist. It's a good thing I'm trained to research and analyze; and even so, I find myself drowning in a sea of information. I have to sift through the sands to find what works, and separate it from the woo and semi-woo. Instead of traveling to conferences and writing about art, I spend all my energy traveling to therapies and listening in waiting rooms, trying to understand why certain strategies work and think about whether or not they would work for either of my boys. I try to find energy for putting the strategies and programs in place, or get my boys to the opportunities to grab their attention, focus their energies, and allow for growth. Or at least a taste of something good, a break from the constant challenge and work that encompasses their lives in meeting their challenges. Respite is good for the soul, even for the kids.

Once upon a time, my plan was to be in Varanasi this summer. Joey is eleven. Andy is nine. It would have given them a good taste of the world, a new look at their lives and their values. Such avenues to open and look down and wonder about, new ideas to think about, new visions, new smells, new sounds, new foods. I would take them over to the silk shop and have kurtas made for them. They could watch the geckos on the walls at night. We could dip our feet in the Ganges. There are plenty of children there, new friends to meet. We could have taken a ride in a motor rickshaw out to Sarnath, or just wandered along the ghats.

But that's not my life anymore.

I'll be super-happy if I get the full-time teaching gig. Even though its just teaching 101 and 102, maybe 106 (Modern/Contemporary art), I'll still be opening up eyes and minds to the new world of art- observation, analysis, and communication. There's plenty to do with that, too, keeping abreast of the latest ideas about Michelangelo or Archaic Greece. And maybe I can get it together and take the boys to the Freer/Sackler one weekend. At least give them a little taste of what Mommy dreams.