Monday, February 27, 2012

the red crayon

Rye loves red. It was an early obsession that made up a huge component of his restricted range of interest. When he was three he would not leave the house unless he had three red treasure rocks in his pocket. If it was red, in his world it belonged to him.

Cedar Ridge Elementary has crayon’s hanging in the hall. One color per room as a way to visually teach kiddos where rooms are located.

Last Friday. Parent/Teacher conference day. 8:00 in the blue crayon and 8:15 in the green crayon.

A lot of feelings typically surround these meetings and more so for IEP meetings for parents of children on the spectrum. When we started school I was told by many parents to “be ready to fight”, “the school district doesn’t do anything”, “you will have to sue to get what you want”. So many go into the school experience with what could be perceived as a negative attitude. We have learned through our journey that if you expect the worst that is probably what you will get. I’m so glad I did not listen to people who told me to go in fighting. For us we have had a collaboration that is remarkable. We love our school. We love the people, we love the atmosphere and most of all we love the willingness to cooperate for the sake of the student who needs it most. We have been blessed with many fabulous teachers over the past three years. All different, all bringing a unique perspective and all willing to put forth an effort for a boy who in reality does not really care for any of the dynamics that typically make school a success.

We have also had the dynamic of a team leader who does not always have the easiest job. She doesn’t always get to be the one who the kiddo likes the best, she is certainly never the most popular, she is the one who (god love her) my son called “Pink Pants” for two years because his Kindergarten teacher jokingly said it one time in passing. She is the one who has to deliver the news to parents and (teachers for matter), that you don’t want to hear. For us, at times we have disagreed, we have fought it, and then we end up eating our words because after we take a moment to remain open we realize that it is okay to trust in a system that despite its faults, for the most part, actually works. It is also completely clear and appropriate that our team leader is fittingly located in the red crayon of Cedar Ridge Elementary. How wonderful for my boy to find comfort in the red crayon, the place where Rye goes to learn and receive support, the place to retreat when school just sucks.

Because of our situation I spend a lot of time in meetings at schools, I understand how easy it is to blame others for your child’s difficulties. I also understand that for some who are not as lucky as us there is and will be a time for due process.

Here are a few simple facts that have made all the difference in the world for us at our school:

1. Be appreciative. For the most part, Teachers are there because they want to make a difference. They are clearly not in it for the money.

2. Be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem. Volunteer, involve yourself in the school, and take the time to really know what goes on in your child’s classroom.

3. Show up, make yourself present. Don’t ever assume what is going on in a classroom, observe, watch and you will probably be pleasantly surprised at the amazing things happening.

4. Make your teacher like you; they will then like your child. It is important to try to get along.

5. Bring food! I have yet to show up at an IEP without a snack for all to share.

6. Come in with an attitude that it is an entire building supporting your kiddo, there is no staff that is not involved in some way in the education of your child.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what color the crayon is. But what you should realize going into the school, is that there are possibilities in all of the crayons. There’s a time to fight and there’s a time to kill ‘em with kindess. Mostly, from our experience, it’s the kindness, the listening, the willingness to be open-minded, that will provide the best results for your child.


  1. Very well-put,Tara you are one of a kind! Thank-U for being our friend!!

  2. You and Scott are amazing parents. Rye is a blessing! So are both of you! I believe I am the lucky one to have had the joy of teaching Rye. So proud of him :)
    I am also proud I made the blog.. Miss Pink Pants, yep, I own that!
    Love you guys!
    Mrs. Allen

    1. love it that you own that one!!! love you to Ms Allen!!!