That’s What SHE Said

We leave for Disney on Saturday and I am trying to be really zen about it, but seriously, I’m not very good at zen.

Aitch has been calling me “mama” lately. It is not being said in the soft, southern-draw-way one might imagine when a child says “mama”, but more in the possessed-by-a-mass-murderer-doll-under-the-bed kind of way: “ma – ma, ma – ma, ma-ma”.

Speaking of weird shit kids say, tonight after her bath, Aitch was sitting on a stool we keep in the bathroom so she can reach the sink. I was combing out her wet hair, when I heard, “It looks like a penis.”

“What??” I asked, surprised, and stopped to find her doing a very thorough examination of her girly parts.

“It looks like a peanut.”

Um, OK.

But then she amended her observation:

“It looks like a dinosaur!”

Image

16 January, 2012 13:23

I won’t blame you for thinking Sparring Partner and I are at the minimum, morons. We are kicking ourselves here, trust me. It’s easy for all of us to talk smack about the current situation Doodicus is experiencing at his school because it is happening at his school. The job-setting comparison is a good one, but sometimes leaving a crappy job is like leaving the devil you know for the devil you don’t. What assurance do we have that the public school would be any better equipped?

That’s a rhetorical question, obviously.

My husband and I had a serious discussion about what this next fall will bring as it specifically relates to moving him to public. The idea scares the shit out of me. He will go from a class of 50 to approximately 400. His body will literally be in constant flux, moving from room to room and the poor kid’s anxiety levels will be through the roof.

You probably don’t remember this, but I distinctly do. Remember the incident at daycare that got us “fired” from the care-giver’s services? Doodicus kicked one of the other kids in the head. This had been the proverbial straw for the care-giver. We were fortunate to find the daycare Doodicus currently attends but for weeks – WEEKS – when I would pick him up from there, he would sob and sob and sob. He had no friends. No one liked him. No one played with him. One time, I pulled over to the side of the road and parked the car just to run to open his door and try to comfort him from the cruelty of it all. He never got over feeling it was his fault for losing everything that was routine to him.

So here we are, six years later, talking about the very same thing, racing time and the boiling points to see if it will be a voluntary decision or if the private school will make the decision for us.

I know realistically that I am only make excuses. He’ll adjust. He has adjusted. We would have put him in the public system after sixth grade anyway, so aren’t I just expediting the process and doing us all a favor by just doing it for the fifth grade? Wouldn’t it just be equivalent to ripping the band-aid off instead of lifting it slowly, hair-by-tiny-hair?

More rhetorical questions.

One other issue comes to mind, and someone touched upon it in the comments: Aitch. If Dood stays at Private, they would be in the same school. At least until he hits seventh grade. That would give them two years “together”. But really? Would they even see each other that much? If we put them BOTH into public next year, they wouldn’t be in the same school anyway (the public school system has a middle school for just fifth and six graders). We thought about going ahead and keeping her in the private school since she’s already registered for pre-K, but then we worry how would Doodicus handle the fact that while SHE keeps to go to the school where all HIS friends are, we are shuffling him off to be amongst strangers. Illogical for you and me, but not for him. Wouldn’t he perceive that as more of a punishment than us trying to get him the help he needs? I can answer that one: yes, that’s exactly how he’ll think of it.

I casually mentioned to Doodicus the idea of going to a new school next year. I said we think the public school might have teachers who are more equipped to help him specifically with his needs. He told me that one of his friends went to public and then came back to private. This other child told him the teachers were mean. The kids were mean. He then bluntly told me that he doesn’t want to leave “his” school.

You all know I don’t expect answers. Life would be too easy if all one had to do was to ask the internet and to get a clear and concise response. Sometimes I need more than just to hear myself think.

13 January, 2012 09:19

These episodes at school are like the big storms coming through. One is never prepared enough and it seems like only when you’re snowed-in under 100 inches of snow do you feel the brick hitting you on the head which triggers your ass to get to the store to buy the damn shovel you’ve been putting off for six months.

I mull over my head the things I really, REALLY want to say to the school’s teachers and principal, but what keeps me from utterly losing my shit is that I know it will be Doodicus that they’ll take it out on. Each year I seriously consider buying ADHD informational flyers, books, packets and handing them out, but I don’t want to come off as passive-aggressively telling someone who supposedly has an educational degree how to do their jobs teaching MY kid.

What really bugs me is that we go through this every damn year. The web-adage: lather, rinse, repeat, comes to mind frequently. Before I can even finish the question, “Why aren’t they better prepared for a child like mine?” I answer, “….because they blow them out of their tuition-padded doors and into the free public school system when parents realize they are paying to have their child treated like crap.”

IMHO, of course.

And this is where you ask, “Why are you paying tuition for a school to NOT provide your son a learning environment suitable for his ADHD?”

Ah, yes. Here’s where things get really stupid. Pull up a chair. Would you like lemon or cream in your tea?

This elementary school has a great reputation scholastically; for the normal child (note how I give you the air-quotes as I say that), that is. While we may (or may not) get the IEP or 504 assistance in the public school system, they are very 30-years-ago in lesson plans. What’s really at the heart of that question is simple: WE don’t pay the tuition. His grandparents, who insist that we educate the kids through this elementary school, pay the tuition. When we originally enrolled Doodicus in the private school, we had no idea that he was ADHD. Not that THAT is any excuse, but more of an FYI. I guess if I’m going to tell you gammy and grampy pay the tuition, I might as well tell the whole story.

So you might ask as you hide your accusing eyes by looking into your cup for an imaginary piece of lint, “Now that you know, why don’t you save your in-laws some money and get him out of that school?” Because we haven’t told our families that Doodicus is ADHD, and frankly, we have no intention of doing so. Two of my four sisters know, but that’s because they took care of the kids when I had my cancer surgery and they had to be prepared for the morning behaviors and to administer his medication. They are also a bit more forgiving, too.

With my husband’s family, they are UNforgiving and out-of-touch. They believe ADHD is an excuse for not being able to discipline a child. In their mind, ADHD is just a bullshit term by doctors to use to lazy parenting. When Dood was diagnosed three years ago, I convinced myself then that it wouldn’t be much longer and the grandparents would be a – how should I say – nonissue. Who knew that they would live forfuckingever?! See? I’m an ungrateful asshole.

But here’s my question: Why should a private school be able to shun their responsibility for continuing their education so they can be better prepared to teach children with ADHD (or ADD or autism or any other learning disability)? In the email I got from his teacher, she said (and yes, I am quoting), “…AND please discuss with him (again) the importance of getting his act together.”

Oh, yes, of course! *gives self a face-palm* It didn’t even occur to me these past six years that I should tell him to GET HIS ACT TOGETHER!

What do you think would happen if she told parent of a child with a visual impairment “please discuss with him (again) the importance of learning to see”?

11 January, 2012 12:17

It’s not been a good week for my son. While it may be the third day of the week, it’s also the third day I’ve received a phone call from him to let me know he’s staying after school because of late assignments. The count is up to five.

His teacher talked to me today. "He needs to take responsibility." "This is not going to work out going into the fifth grade." "He is belligerent." and on and on she went. I want to interrupt her and shout, "You know he’s ADHD, right??!!" I don’t know what else to do right now, hands tied and at work, so I write and hope you will understand.

After our meeting a month ago, things are no better. They are no worse, except for this week. While the teachers agreed that assigning my son a "buddy" to go over his assignment book to make sure it is complete (a total of five minutes would probably need to be dedicated to this concession), this has not been done. We do an inventory of the backpack when we pick him up from school. If the assignment book has nothing written on it, we have no idea if when he tells us just the worksheet is due if it really IS just the worksheet that is due.

I try hard not to doubt every thing he tells us. It’s not fair to him, but obviously it’s not fair to us, or to his class, or to his teacher, but god, this cannot go on.

Before I even dialed my husband, I called the school psychologist. And cried. I plead with him to help us get Doodicus the help HE needs. I hiccuped to him as I told him that Doodicus is a good kid. He’s not deliberately trying to get into trouble and that I’m sure all of his parents tell him that their kid is a good kid at heart and that "they just can’t help themselves!"

You know what he said? He said that most parents do NOT say that when they call him for help. Parents do not stick up for their kids, and my heart broke even more.

The impression I got from his teacher during our ever-so-brief phone call is that Doodicus is a burden to her. That she doesn’t have time to dedicate the time that is required when you have a student who most days is perfectly "normal" so that when he is disruptive and non-compliant, he’s too much to help through. Sparring Partner and I have talked in the past that maybe he DOES need to be in the public school system to get the IEP help he obviously needs RIGHT. NOW. but we see things improve and we stop worrying. Until something like this hits the fan at the private educational level.

I feel selfish for even contemplating the future and how I dread all the problems that come with our local public schools. I feel like a pile of shit for hesitating because I *just* got Aitch enrolled at pre-K at his school. I know she will excel, but that means my son will not. If I reverse the situation, there’s no guarantee that my son would flourish while Aitch would not, right? Maybe they both will be very happy. But of course, they both may be miserable.

This is so hard. As I paced the hallway of the office building I work in, which was the only way to have "privacy", I cried and blubbered on the phone. The psychologist said he would look into getting Doodicus into the handicapped program and now I start the crying afresh. He’s just ADHD, right?? That’s not a handicap!! His "friends" will label him. The teachers will refer to him as "THAT kid". I will wonder if he will ever reach the point of self-sufficiency when he reaches adulthood. How will he get a degree? A job?

And I feel helpless. Like I can never do enough. I feel like I haven’t done enough. And then I remind myself to stop being a self-centered whiner and think about how my son feels right now. He’s aware that the school has the option to expel him and he has to sit in the classrooms and wonder when the other shoe will drop and if we stopped loving him for something he can’t really control. My heart is breaking because I cannot and will not stop loving him.

Oh, Mickey. You Sulfite. You Sulfite, You Blow My Mind.

Over the past couple of months, it has come to my attention that I may have intolerance to sulfites. It’s generally used as a preservative in some foods, which THAT is no big deal. In fact, maybe cutting out foods with those asthma-inducing preservatives is probably a good idea. It might help reduce this Miss Muffet’s tuffet’. However, sulfites are also commonly found in alcohol, especially wine. Especially red, dry wines.

Commence dramatic weeping.

Upon initial research, I found that white wines or other clear alcohol (VODKA!) may be better tolerated for sorry souls such as I. This was a glimmer of hope as I just don’t like white wines (and Zinfandel? That bastard of wines will not even get past my front door.), but I keep a couple of bottles of Vodka in the freezer, ever at the ready for emergencies.

The other night I craved a Bloody Mary (spicey! With pepper!! And O! M! G! horseradish!!) so I threw one together, garnishing it with a couple of pickled asparagus spears. I soaked in the beauty, both visually and gastronomically. Thirty short minutes later I felt the tightening of the sinuses at the bridge of my nose followed shortly by tell-tale faint wheezing.

I am gutted.

At a recent family gathering, I was offered a glass of wine. I declined and explained my sensitivity. “OH! That’s going to suck. What are you going to do?”

I responded, “I suppose mainlining heroin would be considered a ‘bad thing’?