I admire single parent households. It is amazing to me that single parents (moms and dads) can handle the work of two. Raising a child is hard and I do believe it does take two to do it. However, there are so many strong, single parents that somehow make up the difference and still see their kids through life. I know a few single parents and their children and I am in awe of their perseverance.
I am grateful not to be one of those parents.
BH has an IEP because he was a little behind when we moved into our house right before second grade. The IEP went well last year and there were little to no issue whatsoever. We had him tested and have had an IEP in place since the end of second grade. This year has been a…..challenge. We have all but straight up fought with BH’s teachers all year this year. We have dealt with rudeness, un-answered emails, un-returned phone calls and ignored notes that were sent in. We have went to multiple meetings and conferences only to find that the teachers are either checked out or refuse to talk to us and help my son. The homeroom teacher just seems like she would rather be somewhere else. The support teacher gets angry every time we talk with her. It has been a nightmare.
We have also been having issues this year with the teachers saying that we needed to put him on medication for ADHD. I know kids that are ADD/ADHD. I know kids that are on medication (or not) for these things. I can see how medication can potentially help these kids and know a few kids it has helped. My son is nothing like these kids. He may have issues, but ADHD is not one of them. Hubs and I keep pushing to see any underlying issues that could be contributing to what they had issues with (not being able to focus is the main one, but he also takes a little longer to process information like directions). While they gave us lip service to deal with these issues, they always went back to the ADHD idea. I also know of a few kids that were diagnosed, put on meds and it didn’t make a difference. Mainly because these kids issues were not of the ADD/ADHD kind.
Let me be clear, teachers/schools CAN NOT diagnose ADHD or ADD. They can only recommend seeing a doctor to be evaluated. We DID see our doctor and he said that BH didn’t seem to have ADHD or ADD because there would be issues as home as well, not just at school. For some reason, the support teacher rejected the fact that we did not see any symptoms of ADD or ADHD at home. It is only at school he has issues and thus falls into the NOT ADHD/ADD category. Our thought process was that yes, he has issues, but no, it wasn’t ADD/ADHD and we need to find out what is going on. I did not want to put my son on meds just to see if it would work considering the side effects of the meds. I was not about to allow my son to be a guinea pig.
We consulted a therapist and our pediatrician multiple times. We are also on the waiting list for a developmental pediatrician to do more in depth tests to see what is going on (this can take a year or more). In the meantime of dealing withe teachers and therapists and doctors, my son has slid into a depression so deep he once confided that he wishes he wasn’t a live and that he could just float out into space.
I gave our therapist permission to consult with the teachers and see if they could come up with a workable game plan. They told the therapist of all his issues of not being able to focus, not willing to participate in group settings, etc. This prompted our therapist to suggest that maybe we do need to try medication for ADD/ADHD. At this suggestion I grew extremely frustrated that the teachers were influencing the therapist. I am not sure exactly what they were saying, but it was obvious to me that something, still, was not right.
Now, let me back track a bit and talk about my son, specifically.
My son is 10 years old. He is a sweet, mild natured boy who will put up with a lot of shit. When we moved into our house, BH would play with this one kid who he always came home and complained about bullying him. I told him this kid was no friend if he was bullying him and being mean. His reply to that was “but he is my friend”. That is my son. He will put up with shit just so he can have a friend.
Last year, in 3rd grade, he did awesome. His teacher was amazed at his progress and talked about how smart he was. He rarely got into trouble or got bad marks on his weekly behavior chart. His teacher even started giving him prizes for having good behavior charts in a row. He flourished last year and began to catch up on all that he was behind on.
Also last year. I ended up having three surgeries. While this isn’t directly relevant, I wasn’t able to speak with the teachers this year (4th grade) because I was either having a surgery or recovering much of the beginning of the school year. When we went in for Open House to meet the teachers, neither Hubs nor I were impressed with his teacher this year. I can’t put my finger on it, but we had a feeling that this year was going to be a challenge.
Side note: Hubs is an excellent judge of character. He has NEVER been wrong in the 14 years we have been together about someone’s character.
Sometime around the beginning of the year…before Halloween I believe…BH complained of a kid that he said was taking his friends away from him. He said that this kid – who will now be called Kid – would come up to BH and his friends during recess, push BH out of the way, let BH know he wasn’t allowed to play with his friend (who will be known as Friend) of 2 years anymore and that Friend wasn’t BH’s friend anymore.
I talked to the homeroom teacher (who will be knows as K) a few times about Kid and how he wouldn’t let BH play with Friend. She said she talked to them and it was a misunderstanding. That they were just joking around and BH took everything the wrong way and that everyone was friends now.
As a parent, you don’t have a choice but to trust the teachers. I trusted the teachers.
I shouldn’t have.
I didn’t hear anything else about Kid for a while. BH got worse in school didn’t want to go, didn’t want to participate in groups and, I believe, started not doing work in class so he would have to stay in from recess and do it then. It’s funny how kids’ minds work. Whenever the teachers would ask him why he didn’t do this or didn’t do that, there was the answer of “I don’t know”.
At one meeting the support teacher said that BH wouldn’t participate in class parties. He never wanted any of the treats. When she asked, he would say he just didn’t want any. This was taken as “anti-social behavior” and was commented on often. When I asked him why he didn’t want the treats (not why he didn’t participate) he told me that the cupcakes were always store bought and he didn’t like them, so he never wanted one. Not wanting a store bought cupcake is a lot different than being anti-social.
Everything came to a head after our Disney Vacation.
My son has been suffering from depression and anxiety that has gotten worse over the course of this year (hence the therapist). He has got to where he didn’t want to sleep in his room, we had to get a brighter “night light” for his room, had to cover the windows because he was seeing things look in, and refused to go to sleep until I went to bed (his room is right next to ours). All of this was chalked up to “feeling different because of ADD/ADHD”.
Then, one day, he asked me to sit with him in the shower so he wouldn’t be alone. I asked him what was up and while I don’t remember the lead in, he said that he was scared to go to the bathroom by himself. When I asked him why he said that he was scared kids were going to come in and hurt him. When I asked him why again he said that Kid (yes, the same Kid) said told BH that he could break his arm if he wanted to and then proceeded to grab BH’s arm and twist it in a way to show BH exactly how he would break his arm. BH was quick to say that he knew Kid was joking, but it still bothered him. I told my son that it didn’t matter if Kid was joking. That Kid was being a bully by intimidation. I told him he needed to tell someone, but BH was scared that he would be the one to get into trouble.
Soon after we went to see his therapist. I wanted to get her take on it before I went to the school. After BH told her what was going on, she looked at us in shock. She said that she asked the teachers if he was being bullied and they said no. I told her that every time BH seemed to complain that he is the one that got into trouble. All three of us decided that there needed to be a meeting between the teachers, me and BH. The next day I left a message saying as much.
This is where my biscuits start to burn…
The support teacher (who will be called M) emailed my husband and said that they didn’t think it would be beneficial to have a meeting at this point in the school year about his work. Hubs emailed back that it wasn’t about his work, it was specifically about a bully. Then, we heard nothing.
Not a week later BH come home almost in tears. Tells me he got a 0 on his behavior chart because he and a few friends were horsing around in music class. Kid came over, told him not to be doing that and that someone was going to hurt BH. BH was visibly upset, told the music teacher who told M and hell fire if BH didn’t get in trouble for not keeping his hands to himself. BH admitted he should have been paying attention and keeping his hands to himself, but he was upset about the stuff Kid said to him.
I told him he needed to talk to the principal, Mrs. H, about it. He said he would “try”. I decided to wait a day and see if he would talk to Mrs. H before I called her myself. Then, the next day M emailed my husband talking about how BH was in trouble for punching another student. This really pissed me off. I emailed my husband back and said that BH had told me about what happened and it was not like the story she emailed to him and told him what BH told me.
At this point I was shaking. Hubs called me on the phone and I told him that I realize that kids will say whatever it is they need to to get out of trouble. I also said that I know that some kids will say shit about other kids to get them in trouble. I said that I also know that when kids are confronted by an adult, they will often tell the truth but that the adult will hear what they want to hear. I said to hubs that I didn’t know if BH was telling the truth or not. What I do know is that he came to me and owned up to his bad behavior, but that he was upset because of Kid saying someone was going to hurt him and when he tried to say something he is the one that got into trouble and we have had issues with this kid in the past.
At that point, I was done dealing with the teacher. I couldn’t do it anymore. I told hubs that he had to take care of it, that I was to emotional to evoke any kind of rational conversation. Hubs sent an email back to her outlining that while we don’t condone BH’s bad behavior, Kid is the common denominator in BH’s social problems. He said that the fact that BH is feeling unsafe is enough to address this issue and that all the attempts on our part to bring this to their attention were ignored means that we will have to escalate this to the principal. He then called Mrs. H. M also forwarded hubs email to Mrs. H, though we don’t know if it was actually trying to be helpful or more of a CYA.
This caused Mrs. H, M and the school counselor met with BH as well as Mrs. H meeting with BH one on one and developed a plan to deal with Kid. He gets passes that he can use to leave lunch or recess to tell someone what was going on. He also can say, in class, that he needs a break and that is a clue to M and K that something happened and they need to address it. BH and well as my husband asked that Kid NOT be in BH’s class next year. While we understand that sometimes the classes co-mingle, at least he won’t be tormented all day. The last thing is to have a meeting with his teacher for next year when he is assigned and we will make sure to go over all this at that time (August)
I feel sorry for the school next year. I was in bad shape during a lot of this year because of my surgeries. Next year won’t be so bad for me…but this also means I will be fit enough to walk to the school if I have to. I also feel it is sad that we even had to take it to the principal. For all their lip service about how they care about BH, they sure didn’t seem to show it. Here’s to hoping next year is much better for us, and especially BH. The school will have both Me and hubs to deal with.