November 16, 2008

The Fisherwoman and her Son

nce upon a time there was a fisherwoman and her son. Of comfortable means, the fisherwoman spent most of her days fishing in Lake Michigan, as a hobby, mind you, while her son attended the local public special education program. One day she happened to pull up a very large iridescent fish which began to speak.

"Please do not kill me. I am not really a fish, but an enchanted prince. If you promise to throw me back, I will grant you a wish." The fisherwoman was surprised, but when she had found her tongue, she said, "My son has not had much success in a number of public special education classrooms. What I'd really like for him is a private therapeutic day school." "Go home," exclaimed the fish. "He is there already."

"This is wonderful," marveled the fisherwoman when she saw the school. It was small and nurturing. There was a social worker assigned to each pupil who oversaw that student's program. There was a level system of rewards and reinforcements for appropriate behavior. Her son spent several happy years there, but it became apparent that he was not making academic progress. The fisherwoman resolved to return to the fish.

"Hello. I haven't seen you in years. How is it going?" asked the fish. "Actually, that's why I am here," replied the fisherwoman. My son is not progressing. What he needs is a different therapeutic day school that can address his academic issues." "Go home," answered the fish. "He is there already."

"Perfect," said the fisherwoman when she saw the school. "You'll be able to spend the rest of your school career here." The school had an impressive teacher/student ratio, a living skills curriculum and mainstream opportunities. The son was there less than a year when the school's administrators informed the fisherwoman that her son could not continue there. She had no choice but to return to the fish.

"Yes?" said the fish gravely, when he came to the surface. "I am sorry to bother you again," said the fisherwoman. My son has become very disruptive at school. He is aggressive and a security risk. He must have a residential placement." "Go home," said the fish curtly. "He is there already."

"Gorgeous," said the fisherwoman, when she visited the new place. Each resident had a private room. There were structured programs, community activities and field trips. The school was right on campus. Of course, there was 24-hour supervision. Within three months, her son was doing so well that he set his sights on moving to one of the school's group homes and would talk of nothing else until the fisherwoman was forced to call upon the fish again.

"What do you want?" asked the fish impatiently. "I know I just talked to you a few months ago . . ." the fisherwoman began. The fish said nothing. "My son wishes to go to a group home." The fish cut her off abruptly, "Go home. He is there already."

The new house was astonishing. The eight residents shared chores and took care of cooking and cleaning. There was adult supervision and a strong emphasis on independent living skills. Both the fisherwoman and her son were thrilled. Two days later, the son complained to his mother. "I miss you and I miss living with you. I can't stay here forever. I want to come home."

With a heavy heart, the fisherwoman summoned the fish again. When he came to the lake's surface, the fish merely glowered, so the fisherwoman resolved to be brief. "My son is homesick." "Go home," the fish thundered. "He is back in your local public school!" And with that, he dissolved into a spray of dirty water.

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