Posted by: deerharas | August 30, 2007

The Most Privileged Binder in the World

I would consider this morning pretty productive thus far, therefore I feel the need for a blogging break.

Yesterday I called my mom to ask how school was going for her and my brother.  It was her first day with kids back in the classroom, and my brother’s first week as a big dog 8th grader.  While updating me on the latest happenings in their lives, she shared something totally worth retelling here.

See, my brother is so funny.  We’re eleven years apart, so sometimes it’s a little hard to find things in common.  However, whenever we share a common interest or experience, he tends to latch on, which is so sweet.  He loves his big sister.  For example, I introduced him to LOST, and now he’s a fanatic.  It’s all he wants to talk about with me.  That, and Franklin Middle School.  We didn’t attend the same elementary, but going into middle school, he was so excited to be at the same school his sister was over a decade earlier.  We had long conversations about my best and worst experiences (my completely unwarranted detentions for example : )) and all my old teachers.  When he started 6th grade, he was in Mrs. Embry’s English class, and he couldn’t wait to tell her he was Sarah Reed’s little brother.  She ended up being his favorite teacher that year, probably having something to do with my own declaration of her as my favorite 6th grade teacher, I’m sure. 

Much to my brother’s dismay, they closed Franklin at the end of this last school year.  He was so frustrated … why couldn’t they keep it open one more year, just for him?  He would have to begin again at a brand new school with a new principal, of whom he had already heard rumors of his harshness with students.  The worst part came this summer when the dress code letter arrived at our house.  It turned out that at his new school, students were not allowed to wear athletic shorts.  All shirts had to be tucked in.  Belts must be worn.  Kids couldn’t carry backpacks into class; if brought at all, they must be kept in lockers during class.  All these “rules” proposed some significant problems for Daniel.  He has cerebral palsy which limits his dexterity, and athletic shorts are the easiest thing for him to wear and change in and out of for athletics. (Yes, my precious brother is a cross country runner; you can read about that here.)  He hates tucking in his shirt, and honestly it looks a little odd when he does.  However, the backpack thing was going to be the biggest challenge, wherein lies the best story I’ve heard in awhile.

Before school started, my mother assured my brother that she would talk with the principle and that they would be able to make exceptions to the dress code in his case.  That did not go over well.  My brother is intent on following the rules; he never wants special attention or consideration.  While I would be up at the school myself, demanding that they make modifications for me, Daniel just wants to find away to work within the guidelines.  For example, my mom told me that they found some cotton shorts, similar to athletic ones, that work for him, but according to my mom, don’t look as good.  But he’s content.  However, without a backpack, there was no way that Daniel could carry around his binder.  He walks with crutches, so without a handle (which his binder doesn’t have) carrying it is impossible.  My mom talked with the principal who gave him permission to use a backpack, but Daniel refused.  Instead, he puts his binder in his wheelchair (which he never uses to sit or ride in) and has a friend wheel it beside him from class to class as he walks on his own.  Just the image of that wheel chair toting around a binder, while a disabled person walks beside it … I laughed harder than I have in a long time. 

When I pointed out that he was drawing more attention to himself than if he just used a backpack, my mom reminded me that for him it was about the rules.  He didn’t want a privilege other students didn’t get just because of his disability.  I will say, however, that that is one privileged binder of his.

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