June 21, 2010. Despite a rough morning, Peter rallied beautifully and we were able to celebrate a wonderful Father’s Day with Pat. His beloved granddaughter, and his oldest daughter Jennifer and her husband, drove from New Jersey for the afternoon. At 19 months, the baby is a dizzying blur of delight. It was a hot, happy day, filled with fresh berries, burgers, hot dogs, and corn on the cob. The waters of the gulf between Pat’s old and new lives were calmer and somehow less vast than they sometimes seem. I think everyone felt it, Sophie and Peter included. I was so grateful that Pat wasn’t made to sit on the fence between alliances. We are one family and we all belong to him, and him to us. Baby Gia, at the age where everything is new and worthy of exploration, found tremendous joy in whacking the dogs’ water bowls with a wooden spoon. Later, after they left, we watched The Indian in the Cupboard with the kids and Grandma. Peter snuggled with me on our big green velvety chair and I drank in the smell of his freshly shampooed hair in the sublime stillness of the moment. These intimate occasions, though still not common, and definitely not a given, are occurring more and more often, and with less and less awkwardness. Pure bliss is what they are. With 4 days left of school and no real lessons on the horizon, we let the kids stay up later than usual. The movie, like the book, captured their imaginations and I listened with great joy to Sophie’s running comments directed at the characters on the screen. This morning they are both like overcooked noodles, though, as we try to pry them from their beds toward a more vertical position. Summer vacation comes late in the Hudson Valley and Sophie and Peter are past ready for the school year to officially end. Peter’s 3rd grade swim party is today which I miss because I’m currently in 24/7 Due Process Hearing mode. Dr. Federici is concerned that Peter is experiencing “break through seizures” and has urged us to get another 24-hour EEG and MRI. None of those have been scheduled yet so now that the town pool is open, I have been keeping an extra vigilant eye when my son’s in the water. Peter had an episode on Saturday that scared us both. He seems to have lost swimming skills over the winter and struggled underwater to the point where he threw up in the pool. I don’t know whether he had a seizure or just panicked but something definitely happened and his proficiency in the water has definitely diminished. “I almost drownded, Mommy!” he cried. “I do not know what happened but I couldn’t get up to the top of the air.” Worried, of course, about today’s swim party, I write to his teacher, who I just have spent two days cross-examining at the hearing, and ask that he stay out of the deep end, explaining in an abbreviated way my reasons. When I pick Peter up this afternoon, exhausted but happy as he sucks on a ring pop that turned his teeth green, he informs me that he “passed” the swim test and was allowed to swim in the deep end. I was terribly angry, of course, with all kinds of colorful expletives racing through my head as I smiled to the other parents as we left, but I also was relieved he was okay. Why certain persons at this school feel entitled to supplant their judgment for ours, I will never understand. If I had relayed this kind of information to Sophie’s teacher, for instance, she would have been on it like a hawk on road kill. I have no doubt whatsoever. But there’s something about Peter, or me, or the bizarro world of special education, that invites constant criticism, constant second-guessing, and endless usurpation of parental prerogative and wisdom. The unforgiveable part is that Peter really could have been harmed, even killed, if something had gone wrong. In three more days though, Peter will be saying goodbye to Mill Road Elementary for good. He is not returning. The stakes are too high. He is done and so are we. A new chapter in his education, and hopefully his future, is around the bend. Don’t get me wrong: I was thrilled to see his goofy green-toothed grin today. He had a great time, and for that I’m grateful. But also make no mistake: I’ll be much more grateful come Thursday at 11:45, when school’s dismissed for summer. Its just one more important step toward divorcing ourselves from the turmoil of Peter’s integrated education that constantly distracts us from the business that matters: our family. Happy Father’s Day, Papa!