Quick quiz: Where would you rather go, to the dentist for a root canal, or to a meeting of the parent-teacher organization at your kids' school? For many moms and dads, that's an answer that takes a bit of thought. Sure, the dentist appointment is uncomfortable at best and painful at worst, but at least they give you painkillers -- no one's administering anything at the PTA meeting to cut the drone of voices, the stabs of political infighting, the drill of minutes painstakingly followed. If they could knock you out first? Maybe.
So those meetings are dreaded, and easily avoided with a thousand different excuses. I've certainly played the "You know, my kids have special needs" card, expecting people's pity for my overwhelmingly involved life to get me off the hook. That's an expensive escape, though, because it sends the message that our kids are different, and their parents are uninvolved, and therefore no one has to really worry too much about including them. If we're going to talk inclusion, we have to act inclusion, and part of that is putting our butts around those library tables and being a voice for our kids. Believe me, no one else is going to speak for them.
If you need a little more prodding, read my "Ten Reasons to Join Your School's Parent Association." And every time you read an article about special-education students not being in the yearbook, or the school field day, or the graduation ceremony, recognize it as a missed opportunity for their parents to go to a meeting, join a committee, and represent.
Photo by Terri Mauro