Thursday, May 14, 2009
I have a junk drawer – actually two of them. They’re filled with bits and pieces of my life through the years. A roll of ribbon, probably no more than 3 inches. A kitchen utensil with a plastic handle that I almost melted through by setting it on the edge of pan. A Barbie doll head – just the head. Old and broken jewelry. A small art project made by a child who is now 16 years older. Several black plastic knives and forks, remnants of a 40ish birthday party.
They are all things that seemed for some reason at the time too good to just throw away. I imagined I would have a use for them sometime in the future. But I never have. The drawer just keeps getting fuller until the day I decide to just throw everything away.
Do the rest of you do this? My school district does.
Children with special needs, especially the ones with the most significant needs, are put in my school district’s junk drawer. Their junk drawer is a classroom, usually tucked far away from the non-disabled children, and often all the drawers are stacked together in separate buildings.
The school staff has no idea what to do with these children, but they feel bad just throwing them away. So like my 3 inches of ribbon and my old and broken jewelry, our children with special needs are collected, their drawer closed while the staff tries to think of some use for them.
But they never do. Some years later, usually after the children have been in the junk drawer for 18 to 19 years, they are thrown out, the same way I clean out my kitchen junk drawer – only to start the collecting all over again.