I write so much about transitions for my daughter, but here’s a big one. This week, Schuyler takes her final exams for her junior year, and late Friday morning, she will officially become a senior in high school. I find this to be weird, the idea of a little baby girl being a senior in high school, but my perspective may be a bit skewed. I’ll own that.
Next week? She begins job training for a potential summer paid internship. The program is designed for young adults with disabilities who want to enter the workforce and become, in that phrase I hate maybe more than any other for the dismissive way in which is devalues and erases kids like mine, a “productive member of society”.
I reject that assignment of value to a human being, of course. This philosophy is a pretty good example of how western culture is eating itself. We value each other by the monetary contributions we bring to the system. We have worth if we feed the machine. It’s a ridiculous reduction of our humanity, and we know it, but still we persist because it’s the only way we know how to be.
Now Schuyler is preparing to join that counter-progressive march, and despite my snotty liberal socialist railing against The Machine, I think it’s a positive step. There’s no guarantee that she’s actually get placed in a job this summer, so perhaps I shouldn’t jinx it now. But she’s nervous and excited, and next week, she’ll start learning about the world of employment.
If she gets a job, she’ll make actual money, paid to her on a card that she can use the way she would a bank account. She’ll make an hourly wage that is a bit above minimum wage, which shouldn’t be a big deal, but for someone with a disability is a very, very good thing. Schuyler could spend her summer doing that thing that so many teenagers do, but again, for someone like Schuyler, it is a major step.
So many changes. So much uncertainty. The universe just strapped a rocket pack to Schuyler’s back. We shall see what this phase of her life ultimately looks like, and how well she’ll do as she steps out into a world of superficial but pervasive human valuation. It’s a lot to take in, and I am perhaps more worried about her than I’ve been at any time since her diagnosis fourteen years ago. But even with all her anxiety and also my own, I have to say it. I like her chances.
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