Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

Usually, I’d Say I Want to Change the World, but Tonight, I Want to Change Trump’s Education Secretary Nomination

Oh mamas, we

“Buh-bye!” I smiled at my step-daughter. “That was so adorable,” she said.

“He said bye-bye! Was that his first?”

“No,” I said. I didn’t add that I’d only heard him say it once before, to a toy garbage truck driver, heading to unknown dumps and mysteries around the bend of kitchen cabinets. She closed the door behind her, and I nuzzled my little boy’s cheek.

“Say ‘buh-bye’ again!” I jiggled him. Waited.

He grinned, pushed my face away, and arched his back to get down. The rest of the afternoon was silent but for the sound of plastic on plastic while the toy garbage truck mocked me as it gathered and dumped toys, over and over again.

“Something isn’t right,” the truck said.

“I know,” I said.

At my son’s two year appointment, I asked the doctor about his lack of language. She was unconcerned. After all, just that week, he’d said “truck fell down,” which was a first, and advanced for age two, according to the big books of milestones and checklists.

I wouldn’t hear a sentence as complete as “truck fell down” for another couple of years. I didn’t hear “buh-bye,” either.

Summer became Fall, and Fall gave way to Winter.

We caught snowflakes on our tongues, played with toy garbage trucks and airplanes for hours, and I confided in friends and family, who reassured me.

“Boys talk later than girls, he’ll catch up soon.”

“Maybe, he’s not talking because he doesn’t have to. After all, he’s home with you all day and you know what he wants.”

As that Winter melted, so did my hopes of having a less silent house. We met with Early Intervention, and with schools. Teachers came to our home for a visit.

“Please try Preschool Autism Class,” they said. And, after a bunch of tears and waving goodbye to my dreams of a co-op Montessori preschool, I said “Okay.”

I waved to my dreams as they boarded a tiny plane in my yard, shut the door, turned on the propellers, and flew away.

I wished them luck.


Today, before going to work, I decided to check in online. It wasn’t long before my hands were shaking and I was holding my breath. Somehow, 1,001 horseflies had entered my mouth and were buzzing around my body.

Biting. Choking. Shaking me.

Over and over again, for almost five years, I’ve thanked God and the stars and the state of Virginia for public education programs. Specifically, for IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) and for the gift of Preschool Autism Classrooms, successful IEP meetings, the grace of kindergarten and for kindness and inclusion for my son who, as it turns out, doesn’t even have autism but was taught to speak because of the programs and people who exist for those that do have autism.

There are angels among us, which I know is a cliche, but it’s true.

Some of them taught my husband and I how to help our son best, which wasn’t to be found in any parenting book purchased in mainstream mommy threads. Some of them helped him to get out of diapers, and although he refused underpants for a while there, he now wears (tagless, seamless, expensive soft ones) them.

Some of them are people that I credit for helping him to find his voice, and more words. Some of them helped him to know that it’s not okay to hit, ever, even when it feels like it makes sense to.

They helped me learn similar lessons, about kindness and acceptance.

Public education schools taught me as a girl, and have taught me as an adult. IDEA being in schools has taught me inclusion and made me realize how different our world is today from when I was a kid. Back then, I didn’t see any kids in wheelchairs, or heading to speech or special reading groups.

Back then, those kids were somewhere else.

Today, I read that our president elect has nominated a scary, uneducated woman to be our Education Secretary. She not only has donated money to LGBTQ conversion therapy groups but she doesn’t know that IDEA IS A FEDERAL LAW.

People, I’m so f*cking angry, I can barely type. I mean, Trump is horrible in all of the ways. He’s made it clear that he doesn’t like or respect anybody but rich white men. Without getting into all of that because there will be libraries filled for all of the tomorrows with how this could happen, how is it possible that our public education system may need to rely on some awful billionaire who doesn’t have any agenda but her own?

Plus, she’s a raging idiot who said that states should decide about whether guns are in schools, citing protection from grizzly bears as the reason.

I want to change Trump’s nomination for Education Secretary.

DeVos is NOT okay and shouldn’t decide the future of any child, with or without disabilities.


Not that Saturday’s March on Washington is going to make a difference regarding who Trump nominates, but I’m planning on going to the one in DC. I don’t know what it may change, but if a single person who feels scared or marginalized feels more powerful and seen because there will be hundreds of thousands of us saying “WE SEE YOU,” we did something.

I can’t say I’m not nervous. I am. I’m worried that the angriest among us are also the most armed. I’m worried because although my husband is fabulous, I am the better parent and I don’t want to be shot or bombed or whatever. So I’m pretty sure I’m going. If you’re marching, tell me where? Are you nervous too? 


This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. Today’s sentence was “If I could only change…”

Long-time readers and friends know that I want to change the world, make it more inclusive and one where we each remember that we’re more alike than different. Tonight, I’d planned to write about that but like life, sometimes, days and writing take us to places unexpected. As part of embracing myself, my reactions, and each and all of ours, I’m going to leave this writing as it is while acknowledging that it’s more angry and more political than I usually prefer.

With that said, I always welcome discussion and thoughts.

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  • JT Walters - DeVos is from my home town and I could not agree with you more. She is a Bush puppet and common chore $&ore.

    Queen of Amway profiteering, those who helped Trump get elected are profoundly disappointed with this choice. But she bought the job just like the rest of them do. Same old same old!

    You and I rarely agree on politics but we do tonight 1000% which is nice for a change.January 19, 2017 – 11:51 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - She’s AWFUL! OMG Grizzlies??!?!?! What a dumb ass. I’m glad we agree!January 20, 2017 – 6:56 pmReplyCancel

  • JT Walters - PS

    Don’t toss ur Mickey wine glass over this!January 19, 2017 – 11:58 pmReplyCancel

  • [email protected] - I had never heard of her until she was nominated. I have been doing some research, but everything is so skewed in one direction or the other it is hard to sort out the facts. I am a public school baby from a family of public school educators. It was very hard for me to pull my girls out and go private a couple years ago – went against every ounce of my soul. BUT, we did it because I believe there are some serious problems with the current public school system – definitely some good, but definitely some problems. (Many of those problems are on a state lever.) All that being said, I am not sure she is the right person for the job.January 20, 2017 – 9:11 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I hadn’t ever heard of her either and know what you mean about news sites being skewed one way or another. For me, I just watched the video of her answering and that’s what I base my opinion on. She was very obviously unfamiliar with IDEA. I also don’t like that she’s donated to discriminatory causes.January 20, 2017 – 6:59 pmReplyCancel

  • Deenie - Hey – I am with you 100%. When I was a kid there were NO kids with disabilities in my class. Not kids with diagnoses or kids getting extra help anyway. Now, 1 of my sons has an IEP and the other has a 504 and they are both in our local public schools in general ed classrooms and are fully welcomed and supported there by both staff and students alike. Yesterday I went to pick up my autistic son from school and I walked in to see him and another non-SpEd kid finishing up a scooter race. They were laughing and talking. This is as important to me as the grades he gets. This is only possible because of IDEA. Anyhoo – I too live in VA and I too am planning to march tomorrow. I’m not with any group. It would just be me and my wife. (Not only do we have SpEd kids, but we’re black and I’m an immigrant and we’re a same sex couple.) I have to march, even though, like you, I am scared.January 20, 2017 – 9:25 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Hi Deenie, I’m glad your sons are in classrooms that welcome and support them. I know that’s not the case for all but we’ve been really lucky with our programs here. I’m not with a group either – some friends of mine are going but nobody who lives near me and I think trying to meet up downtown is going to be really difficult. I’m glad you’re marching with your wife! PM me on FB or email me if you want to try and meet if you all want another person with you!January 20, 2017 – 7:02 pmReplyCancel

  • Emily - You shouldn’t feel the need to apologize for a post that’s more angry than political…it’s ok and I get it! I’m worried, but I’m trying to be optimistic, because I’m not sure what else to do…January 20, 2017 – 9:35 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks, Emily. I’m trying to be optimistic too. We’ll see… *sobs*January 20, 2017 – 7:09 pmReplyCancel

  • Dana - I just watched the inauguration, and watched Trump sign his nomination for DeVos and say “, right?” He doesn’t even know or care.

    I am not marching in D.C., but I am marching in my own home. If you are, be safe, Kristi.January 20, 2017 – 1:34 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks Dana. I’m going to go but I’m meeting somebody so I’m not alone (because chicken). I’ll think of you marching at home and UGH “Betsy…education, right?” WHAT A DISGUSTING GROSS UGH!!!!!January 20, 2017 – 7:34 pmReplyCancel

  • Rabia @ The Liebers - My head is spinning with all that is wrong with him, his administration, and people in general. I really am scared for our country right now!January 20, 2017 – 1:46 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I’m really scared for our country too. It’s truly unbelievable what he’s already doing. The people he’s nominating. All of it. Sigh.January 20, 2017 – 7:35 pmReplyCancel

  • Bev - Oh, I feel you. Having worked in special education, and hoping to enroll my daughter in an integrated public preschool program this fall, I know how important IDEA is for children, ALL children, but obviously for the children who it is supposed to serve. It angers me that the woman in charge of it doesn’t even seem to know what it is. It’s just disgusting and infuriating.January 20, 2017 – 2:57 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - It’s SO disgusting and infuriating, Bev. I just don’t even know what to say about it other than it’s just not right, and can’t happen. How is this happening? Sigh.January 20, 2017 – 7:39 pmReplyCancel

  • Linda Atwell - Out One Ear - Kristi: I so wish I could be at the march tomorrow but we are in Mexico till 2/4 so I will miss out. Surprisingly, there is a march in the little town where I’m staying. So I feel that we are all united in our efforts to let this orange cheeto know that we are not with him. I feel helpless, hopeless today. I also suffered from the sh*ts and had to go to the local hospital to be rehydrated. Of course, I believe my condition is fro the thought of this horrible creature running our country. The locals are appalled that he won the election. I could go on and on, but if I were going to the march, I would hope it would remain peaceful and without any violence whatsoever. I will be thinking about you tomorrow. Be safe. Be strong. Stand up for what is right and I’ll be cheering for you my friend. Hugs, hugs, hugs.January 20, 2017 – 10:47 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Hey Linda! I saw on FB that you all marched in Mexico which is AMAZING and wow!!!! I’m sorry about suffering from the shits… I know that cheeto would blame it on Mexico (build a border already right) but we know you had them because how can we not purge some of our guts for what’s going on now?
      The march in DC was really peaceful, for all that I saw of it. People moved aside for wheelchairs, and for old people, and for strollers with kids. People were KIND and fabulous and just full of love. It was as it should be, at least all the parts I saw, although it was hard to see because it was a wall of people…January 21, 2017 – 10:59 pmReplyCancel

  • Allison Smith - I hate this woman, and I try not to hate many people. I strongly dislike every single cabinet pick, but I hate talking politics on the internet. I just hope that there’s enough backlash that she won’t get approved. Seriously it’s an asinine pick. I’m appalled. But not surprised.January 26, 2017 – 4:46 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I hate her too GRRRRRR
      I so hope she doesn’t get approved. It’s disgusting. I can’t believe the past week. Seriously. OMG.January 29, 2017 – 7:50 pmReplyCancel

  • Kerry - I don’t get the problem around public schools. Okay, well I get it so far as that it has problems. I just see the stigma and everything wanting to go private. I think private is the problem somehow. It’s the whole me first part of America that I dislike. I know what you mean about no sign of disability in schools for so long. I was one of those kids that my mother had to fight like hell to get me into our public school. I hope you and your son aren’t messed with because of the silly leader you now have. I can understand your anger Kristi. I am so tired of feeling disgusted about all of this.January 30, 2017 – 8:21 pmReplyCancel

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