This was a new word to me when Micah was born. I was vaguely aware of what it meant but I couldn't equate it with my children. To me it was something that belonged in a court room somewhere. It was just legal sounding. But in reality, it's what every parent does for their child. For some reason nobody talks about it until you have a child with a disability.

ad·vo·cate –noun 1. a person who pleads for or in behalf of another; intercessor.

Yep, as parents we're all advocates. I guess it's just a stronger stance for our kids with disabilities because they need the extra support pushing for them. We're fast coming up on school years with Micah and believe me, the school has no idea what's in store for them. I'll be sending him to their preschool next fall and I think I'll call this week to enroll him. I just want to be sure he doesn't get "bumped" because they're filled. They politely told me already that Head Start is more life skills and they're very academic. He may fit in better over there, but they'd be glad to have him in their class. He'll be there, and they'll be glad, or so help me this mama bear will tear out of the woods and eat them alive.

I'm both amused and horrified at this person that I've become. I was sweetness and light before kids. And now even my husband fears me when it comes to what I percieve as a wrong against my brood. Take the other week for example. Micah had his sedated hearing test and Sam informed the hospital staff that he may be late getting to work. (He worked 3-11 that week.) One of the girls was seriously hacked off because they were already short staffed that day and she didn't know why we didn't get this scheduled for next week when it would be more convenient for the department.

Now this particular girl has two wonderful kids, and you want to talk about an advocate! Wow, don't cross this mama! Her two wonderful kids are blessedly healthy and she has absolutely no idea what dealing with a specialist is like. None. It's not like the pediatrician where you simply call and say "I can't make today's appointment, could we reschedule for tomorrow after 1:00?" (Yes, we're small town enough that we can do that.) Anyone who's dealt with a specialist knows that you're at their mercy. And good luck getting an appointment within the month.

So after this girl rants to Sam for a while about his lack of forethought and his inconsiderate ways, he says "why don't you pick up the phone and talk to Karen about this." She couldn't comprehend what that had to do with anything, or the threat that Sam was making. But he knew. He's well aware that when it comes to Micah nobody intimidates me anymore. She would never have stood a chance. And it would have been a shame because I really like her.


Sandy@ Jesus and Dark Chocolate said...

You Go Girl!! :)
As a special ed teacher I used to get frustrated with parents like you..........but then I became a mom and my entire perspective has forever changed! :) Now I always tell parents, that I may not agree with everything they are advocating for, but I respect them for standing up for their child! That is what a mom should do.
I always say that once you become a mom your heart if forever changed.

I am sure Micah will do just fine in preschool, and having him there will change hearts and minds of the teachers who work there.

He is such a cutie btw in case I never told you. He looks like he is all boy. :)

Cecily R said...

Jon calls it "going all Mama Bear" on people when I play "advocate". I know it's not the same for me, but I totally feel you on this post! :)

Burgh Baby's Mom said...

You go get 'em girl. And if you need an army to stand at your side, just holler over my way.

The sad thing is that this should be a world where everyone just wants to do the right thing. Instead, it's a world where everyone wants to do as little as possible. Really, advocates shouldn't even be necessary.

Karen said...

Thanks for the support, guys. You all mean so much to me.

In re-reading the post I have to clarify that the silent me is quite ferocious, but the out loud me is a bit more subdued. Still, where my kids are concerned, I'll stand my ground as any parent would.

Cecily, it's no different. If there's an infraction against one of yours it's the same as an infraction against one of mine. Stand tall, Mama Bear. I love Jon's statement. I'll have to start using that. :)

Kellan said...

Karen - I loved that last paragraph - that is so the way it is with my husband and I. I can't tell you the number of times I have used this very word when I have had to step in for one of my kids. I've used it in letters to teachers, bus drivers, principals ... I have also told my children that I will always be their advocate - but to be very sure they always tell me the truth and if they do and I have to go in for them - I will fight as hard as I have to to protect them. My children know this and so do the schools! I could so relate to this post - good post! See ya. Have a good weekend.

Kellan said...

I was over here this morning and tried to leave a comment and something went screwy with my computer - but I'm back - see you.

Michelle said...

well for her sake she's lucky she didn't call you! Or maybe if she had she would have understood a little more...and you'd think being a mom herself she would be a little more understanding!

Shellie said...

Oh, did you know being an advocate means you also need to keep a file on your child with all the PTC's IEP's Medical reports, etc you ever get so you can fork it over to everyone who deals with them? I just got told that, and I do have that file... It's just all over the place in about 100 different spots. I need someone to advocate for me and help me get the filing help I need! Keep it up Mama Bear!

Karen said...

Shellie, you are kidding! Ugh. I had so many IEPs that my file outgrew the filing cabinet. I started tossing them into File 13. Yikes. Now I've hosed my son's chances at success. Just my luck!