Hackles

I got this note from my son’s teacher today. Please tell me this is nothing to get defensive about…

Good afternoon!
I intended to drop a note yesterday, but got otherwise involved after school…[Dood] had a pretty good day (yesterday), seemed more settled, more organized, more able to focus on tasks at hand.
Today started out in a much different way, back to flitting all over the room, neglecting simple morning responsibilities (even with several reminders to…i.e., fill in the lunch chart, pick up the book bag, take off the jacket, get your chair). He is my morning prayer helper this week and just couldn\’t stand still long enough to do even that job…his hands were up above his head, he was fidgeting and unable to stay in one spot.
I am more than a little concerned about our field trip to [the Capitol] next week (Thursday). I know mornings are often not good or at least unpredictable for [Dood]. Please give me some helpful information (re. meds, etc.) for that early morning departure and ride to [the Capitol] (remember, we leave @ 6:15 a.m. that day). I also am curious about the ride home and what we can do to make it the best possible trip for him and his companions.
I truly want the experience to be a positive and enjoyable one for [Dood] (and for those around him).

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13 thoughts on “Hackles”

  1. I guess I look at it in a different way and maybe not seeing all of the interactions every day is part of that but it sounds to me like she really wants him to be able to go and to participate and that she is just trying to get your advice on how to make this the best experience for him and everyone else.

    Hopefully it goes well for him today.

  2. I don’t blame you for feeling defensive. Dood’s teacher has shown again and again that she sees his behavior more about how difficult it makes her life than about trying to figure out ways to help him do his best in school. Still, I would try not to react defensively in the response to her as that just gives her even less motivation to help Dood. I don’t know if this will be effective with her, but in the past I have found that sometimes trying to enlist people to help you makes them more agreeable to making changes in their own behavior. Maybe try to get her to think about the good days with Dood because she obviously has a hard time seeing any good days with him. She said in her note that Dood had a day that was more focused, organized and settled. I would ask her what SHE thinks made the difference that day. And maybe point out to her that surely, not every single moment of every single day is bad. Could she think back on the good moments and days and let you know what she thinks helped him? Then you could also reinforce that at home while she reinforces it at school and hopefully bring out more good days with Dood.

  3. Deep breaths! It doesn’t matter what she said in the note. What you need to do is figure out how to use this to get Doodicus support. “Oh, you recognize that there’s a problem? Well, you’re the educator trained to maintain order in your classroom, what do you suggest? If I knew how to get him to comply, I would certainly have done it by now (the dumbass is implied).”

    Keep your focus on the goal – don’t get distracted by the behavior. I’m not saying you should ignore the teacher. I’m saying that you put that note aside as evidence of how your son’s needs are not being met, and don’t worry about overtones or undertones.

  4. Okay, I know you may hate me (more) for this but… here goes.
    If you become defensive about the note then I don’t see how you are helping the Dood’s situation. I would take this as a fantastic opportunity for you to communicate (educate) the teacher.
    She’s opened the door and thus cannot get upset if you walk through.
    Why don’t you send her a note thanking her for getting on board with this (of course your phrasing will shame mine) and then let her know exactly what you think. For example, perhaps just standing around (as prayer helper) may be very difficult for your son – let her know.
    Are you worried about the trip? If so, what exactly could you ask her to do to help? Let her know – you need to be Dood’s advocate here, don’t you?
    I just keep thinking that this is a great opportunity to act on your son’s behalf.
    Sorry, I can no longer see my typing and thus you are spared my further ramblings.
    in dealing with my son, I try very, very hard not to let it be about me but ratherabout how I can help him to get what he needs.
    Sorry if this isn’t what you wanted to hear but Dood deserves so much more than what he is getting (and I don’t mean from you).
    DInoD

  5. At first I didn’t think it was too bad but I went back and read it again and there are some nuances and phrasing that I think are interesting. Not sure if she was trying to be passive aggressive or if the tone of the note is typical of her. The “flitting” and the “to do even that” are what I keep coming back to. She sounds like she is either new to teaching or has been teaching too long. (imho). At the very least it sure sounds as though she still (even after this whole year) doesn’t really understand the ADHD part of ADHD. She obviously doesn’t understand that Dood most likely doesn’t WANT to be doing things that get him in trouble.
    So, yeah, the would set me on edge unless I knew that she was writing because she truly wanted some ideas and not to try to get you to maybe hold him at home that day….cuz, that would really piss me off.

  6. I know I would be defensive, because I got defensive when I heard the teacher had referred my son back for more speech therapy, even though the therapist says he’s within normal range for his age. I’m STILL crabby about it. But reading her note about it and trying to figure out how she could say it better, I concluded she was stuck: there’s no way to ask for changes to be made to a child, without making the parent defensive and upset.

    So then the question in this case is, do you think the teacher is right to ask you these questions? Is she right to ask for this kind of help, and/or is she right to think you can provide it? And if so, could she have done it significantly better than she did, or are these questions that are impossible to ask without causing pain to a parent? To me it sounds like she’s first explaining that his behavior and focus vary from day to day (everyone’s does, of course, but it tends to be more extreme and less self-controllable with ADHD, is that right? I have little/no experience with it, just anecdotes/blogs), and she’s hoping you can give her advice on getting the better side of it for the field trip. The fact that she’s asking about it communicates to me that she has correctly assigned the behavior to a medical situation as opposed to him “misbehaving” or doing things on purpose, and she knows you know him better than she does, and she’s hoping you’ll have advice for her. She’s frustrated, and that comes through; it would set me on edge, too. But I don’t think she’s trying to let it come through, and I think she’s frustrated with HERSELF for not being able to figure out the right thing. It sounds like she’s upset with her own failures. …I’m probably reading too much into it, but that’s what I’m reading.

  7. I have to agree with Mrs. X. Lauren is a spirited kid and has a hard time following authority (she fights me a lot, and fights her teachers from time to time, getting time outs.) But when I get comments and notes from her teachers regarding behavior, I start out pretty defensive. YOU ARE DISSING MY KID *fight mode*. Then I have to realize that the teacher is human. The kids are, well, kids. The teacher has to deal with all the kids in the classroom, which is tough anyhow. But when a child is disruptive, it multiplies the task. I think she is looking for advice on how to best handle it. Her alternative would be to discipline him, which could be super serious from a parenting end. I think it’s hard for us to put our kids in the role of a human interacting with society, because they are our kids and we see them as infallible. I know I do. But realistically, there will be bumps, and there will be criticism, unfortunately. I think she might have been using some fightin’ words in her letter, though she attempted diplomacy. For that, I think you’d have to be made of stone not to be offended. Maybe it was one of those “I am going home and having a glass of wine” days for her.

    All in all, I think she knows he is a good kid, but there are obstacles that she is trying to figure out how to deal with to make it possible to have a successful time on the field trip. I cannot imagine taking that many kids to a public place at once.

  8. I am not you nor am I the mother of a child that is old enough to be going to elementary school, so take my advice as you would. Having said that, I would focus on the portion of the letter where the teacher is looking for help making the field trip experience the best it can be for all involved. I think it’s great that she’s seeking out tips from you because it tells me that she really cares about Doodicus and the type of experience he has.

    As for his behavior during the day, don’t we all have days like this? Is it a sign that something ominous is happening? Probably not. My (extremely limited) understanding of ADHD is that it is a fluid condition meaning some days are better than others. Hell, I’m 36 without ADHD and I have days like he does. I won’t go into my general scorn for the microscopic view we take of kids’ behavior these days which tends to overblow every little flaw rather than recognizing that they are acting like this because THEY ARE KIDS.

    Anywho, if I’m totally off base, please feel free to disregard or even delete this comment. But, above all, do not feel defensive. I think everything is going to be just fine. 🙂

    1. I’m TRYING to not read into the note, and trying to see that she’s looking for advice. But I can’t help but notice how to make this enjoyable for the other kids, which really means make it enjoyable for *HER*.

      And I totally say, yes, yes, yes! Who doesn’t have great days followed by crappy days? Nobody I’ve ever met. Does she think that I can determine how his day is going to be? I swear, some mornings at home I’d bet he’s going to come home with at least three notes and a phone call only to find out he had a GREAT day. Other days, he’s agreeable and organized in the morning only to come home with a discliplinary letter. Urrrrkkkkk!!

      1. Ah, I see the rub. For your sanity, I would give her the benefit of the doubt that she is really just concerned with making his trip and that of his classmates the best it can be – not the easiest on her. Frankly, any teacher taking kids on a field trip is not going to have a easy time of it, ADHD or not.

        I also know how hard it is to not see someone’s criticism of your child’s behavior as a reflection on you or your parenting, but you have to do it. Otherwise, each time you get one of these notes, it’s going to raise your hackles and mistrust of the teacher. Try to see the note as a discussion of his day – in this case, it was a bad day – and nothing more. Way easier said than done, but it’s going to be a long slog for you if you don’t.

        Think of the note as a reflection of his disorder and how it is manifesting itself that day. You know him so well and you know that this is what ADHD is, but it’s still hard to not see it as a criticism. Wouldn’t it be great if she sends home notes saying what a great day he had?

      2. Your are very right. Thanks for taking the edge off for now. If she sent home progress notes each day and not just on the shit-days, I might not complete the knee-jerk. Hell, who knows. Maybe I still would because I’m wired that way…

  9. I would so no… but then again, my 7 yr old just got kicked out of the end of the year field trip because she is distracting others in class. She gets straight A’s, but yet she can’t go… I’m beyond frustrated.

    1. Isn’t that discrimination against your daughter?? If the teacher’s note had been about him not allowed to go, I would have come unfuckingglued. Pardon my french.

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