Since April, I've been working with the slow-as-molasses Regional Center to develop a plan for Elf. It is similar to an IEP, but funded through a semi-governmental agency that sorta gives funding and then you scrap around and hope to magically find a provider that accepts the funding...
Meh. It's something, anyway. Of course, now that our plan has finally gotten finished (do you know how much pestering it took? Well, just imagine), now we are on the waiting list, which is about two years long. Ughhhh.
But Elf has been involved in this process. I want Elf to have a real LIFE outside home after I drop dead or he grows up. Not to be morbid, but I think it needs to be a consideration of every special needs kid's parents. "Regular," standard-issue kids can be pawned off to the nearest relative and aside from the regular, standard-issue "boo-hoo, my mom died in a fiery wreck" sort of problems to work through, the kid grows up ok. S/he gets a job and moves out. Marries. Has kids.
You know what I mean.
So... Elfie through the process has been interviewed by the "case worker" during her visit. He knew Mom has this idea in her head that Elf should go to a store allll by himself and pick up a loaf of bread or can of soup without panicking. I think he was hoping that Mom would somehow forget that idea if he just laid low when I was filling out these forms.
But here they are! A plan. No money yet... but a plan has arrived in the mail with the stated goal of helping Elfie go to the store with help and transition to independent store shopping eventually. I clued Elf into this and Elf got all mad. I tried to tell Elf that someday, he'd need to have a job. That means driving.
Hmm... ok... the look on Elf's face indicates he is ok with this, so I continue... "This means getting into a car. And putting the key into the ignition and backing out of the driveway..." He still looks ok about this.
"... It means going by yourself in the car, away from the house and away from Mom. All alone by yourself, driving to work and meeting lots of people and going into crowds and being OK with it."
Ut-ohhh. Rumpled face.
"Well," the visibly angry Elf told me, "had you ever considered the fact that I might not LIKE to drive? That I might want a job where I don't HAVE to drive? I don't want to drive, EVER. I'm going to do something completely different. You should have asked me what I wanted to do!"
He's right. I had never considered the child's brilliance. Here, he must be advocating for a work-at home business in which he does not have to leave the house. Too often we have such a cultural imperialism about us, don't we? The child wants to leave the paradigm of the workaday industrial, clock-punching reality most of us accept as necessary. It was closed-minded of me.
Why should we be corporate colonists when we can tell the King where to get off and start our own businesses? Good for Elf! I knew that homeschooling would nurture that out-of-the-box thinking. I repented that I had never ASKED him what he wanted to do, precisely. Here I was following our predominant cultural model of enabling the young man to live independently. I had no inkling to ask Elf. It was inconsiderate of me to think that he's just a child and that he'd get a clearer picture of what he'd like to do as he aged.
Sigh. I'm so sorry, Elf. You're right. What is it you want to do?
"I want to be a jet pilot! Then I won't have to drive away from my house!"