Saturday, January 08, 2005

Call me Sybil (or Ishmael)

The key to happiness, I've heard, is to find your true purpose, listen to your inner voice. Unfortunately for me, I've got about 12 of them and none of them will shut up.

All right, I'm not being literal. But I swear things would be easier if I could just form a friggin' opinion and stick to it. Somebody does something to piss me off and I feel like a total bitch, but then I spend the next day feeling like crap about my little moment of righteous indignation. I change my mind about three times a day regarding the best way to deal with The Boy. I never want to leave here; I think a change would be good. I love my job; it has no meaning. Argh. And underlying it all: guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt. Have I made the wrong decision? Have I hurt someone? Am I screwing up my kids worse by doing x instead of y? If I start doing y right now, will it make things better or just make things worse?

The Ex insists that he's moving to another state. A faraway state. Far, far away. This is by no means a new revelation--he brings it up in this total melodramatic fashion at least every other month for the past year now, which isn't stressful for me at, oh no--but I think he means it this time. Needless to say, this is going to complicate my life. A lot. Not because I will no longer have backup for the kids or have any free time to myself (although it does mean those things) but because the kids are going to freak. And I'm not too hot about spending extended periods of time away from them. One option is to move wherever he decides to move, but I'm not so swift on that idea either, partially because--hello, who the hell follows their ex across country. And partially because the place it seems likely he'll move sucks ass, IMHO. I might feel worse about being so judgmental, except that I was born near there, and my mom was born there. So I think I'd know.

The Chica gave me some excellent advice about dealing with the Ex. She said, "He isn't your friend. You think he is, but he isn't. You offered him friendship and he threw it back in your face. You need to quit trying to be his friend."

You'd think that would be easy. He didn't treat me particularly well while we were married, and the situation that led up to our divorce certainly was one ugly-assed mess. But I have this little problem, you see, with turning people away. Especially people I care about, even if they've totally fucked me over. And especially people who matter to my kids. Guilt, guilt, guilt.

Oh, hell. In any event, this post is starting to bore even me. So on to more exciting and things. Aren't you glad you stopped by?

The next few weeks should be interesting and telling where The Boy's concerned, God love him. School started back last week, and we got 2nd quarter report cards. Now, I've gone on ad nauseum about the Teacher and my reservations with the appropriateness of her interactions with him. We met with her 1st quarter and she did say that his behavior was improving. I also talked with her just before break and she said things had improved but that she suggested we start documenting some of the problems he was having so we could get him on some special tracks if necessary. What sort of problems are we talking about, I asked. Aside from the oppositional behavior (of which I previously posted), she told me the main problem was that she had to "keep on him" to remember to follow class rules. Also that he tended to do things like run into the other kids or trip over them at circle time because he seemed not to be paying attention. He has trouble staying on task. A few other things Okay, this stuff is pretty much what I'd expect from an ADHD/SID kid. But the last day of class before break, I went in to volunteer with the Holiday Party, and here's what I noticed:

1) When he came in, he hung up his backpack but left his coat on. He started to go to circle and she called out to him in a fairly annoyed voice, "[Boy], what are you forgetting? You co-at?" He immediately came back to hang it up and said,"Oops, I forgot." She says, in this totally snotty voice, "Like every day." Bless him, he just laughed and said, "Yep! Every day!" I decide I hate her. (Then feel guilty. HELP ME SOMEONE.)

2) At circle time, he very carefully stepped over and around his friends to find a place on the mat. She made no comment.

3) She spent the next 20 minutes opening her presents from the kids, and don't even get me started on everything I see wrong with that in and of itself. But the whole time, the Boy sat quietly, without fidgeting or jostling or speaking out. Suddenly, she says, in a rather brusque voice, "[Boy], what's in your pocket? Go put it in your backpack NOW." So he must have been fingering something in his pocket. However, I was standing in the back of the class watching him like a hawk. None of the other kids were looking at him when this happened, so whatever it was could not have been distracting them. She knows he's in OT to learn alternative methods of focusing, one of which is keeping something in your hand to "fidget" with. We've tried a few of the OT strategies in school, and each time she has flipped out because "this stuff isn't working and it's just distracting him and making things more difficult." OT gave us her email and phone and told us to have the teacher call and discuss. No call from teacher. Also, I'm sorry--my kid has real problems, and you're riding him for forgetting to take off his coat and for playing with something in his pocket (while sitting quietly and not bothering the other kids)? I'm a 37-year old with no focus problems and I was bored silly watching her open her stupid candles. Honey, I have bigger fish to fry.

So then we get his report card. All his academic scores are up, except music (I've no idea why). She'd told us that PE was his hardest station, and he showed improvement there, which makes me want to kiss the OT, I think. His literacy, math, writing, ss, science, specials--all the same or improved over 1st quarter. Personal development, though, ah, there's the rub. Several areas show a decrease in performance. But wait--didn't we just talk 3 weeks ago? And didn't you tell me he was improving??

Long story longer, I've made an appointment with the principal. I don't trust The Boy's teacher to pick his 1st grade teacher, and I don't trust her to advise us on the best path for him through the school's offerings. I'm going to let her know what his situation is and what I believe his needs are--which includes a teacher who is willing to work with us to integrate the freaking therapy we're paying for outside of school.

Also, I'm biting the bullet and inviting some of the other boys over to our house to play. Hold me.

This is the Moby Dick of blog postings. I wanted to talk about Family Day at the local art museum, but it will have to wait. If you actually made it all the way through this crappy post, you are a better person than I, Ahab. Sleep well.


What Now? said...

I made it all the way through your post (quite easily!), and I think that you are a very good person! I can't imagine working all day and then being as patient and kind and loving toward your children as you seem to be and also being supportive to your ex and other friends and still giving a rat's ass about the rest of the world. You're amazing, and you should pat yourself on the back!

trisha said...

OMG, is it possible to get The Boy into a new classroom? That teacher sounds like such an ass. And a bitch. She should under NO circumstances make snide comments, and she should under ANY/EVERY circumstance make encouraging
ones. Man, what a tool. I haven't read much about The Boy, but he sure sounds like a sweet, smart, conscientious kid. And you are a wonderful mom/human.

I, too, am bad at dealing with the negative things with the people. I never want anyone to be mad at me.

Anonymous said...

Ooh, this teacher is awful! Hooray for you for making an appt. with the principal. That teacher sounds like a real snot. Horrible approach. Has she never heard of "Catch them being good"? What's with this "Like every day" comment? Tell your boy to torment her so that she gets burned out and leaves teaching. Seriously.

Sarahlynn said...

Good grief. Please God don't make me ever have to deal with a teacher like that. No, wait, that was insensitive. The Boy's school situation sounds antagonstic and unbelievably frustrating. My mom (former learning disabilities resource room teacher and school diagnostician, now a school psychologist) deals with this all the time. Some teachers (and principals, unfortunately) feel imposed upon to have kids in their classes with any sort of "special" needs at all. Even when meeting the kid's needs doesn't take much effort. Even when it's obvious that the teacher's the problem, not the kid.

I think you're making the right move by talking to the principal. I hope that it goes very well.

Laura said...

I agree, the teacher's a bitch. We've been through one of those. It was no fun. Unfortunately, I didn't do anything about it because I found out too late and just waited until the end of the year and did my best to support my son at home. It sounds like you're doing the best you can. I'm inclined the think that most kids--especially boys--have difficulty focusing at that age, but some boys are able to simply because they aim to please. Then the boys who aren't inclined to please look awful in comparison, when they're really just being normal. I'm not a child psychologist or anything--just my observations over the last 9 years of parenting.

Christine said...

Firstly, I have to mention to you that my inner voise often sings "If I only had a brain" - I don't know what that says about me. I don't want to know.

Good luck with the ex situation. These things are never easy.

Oh how I dread dealing with teachers and the public school system! It sounds to me (from my very limited knowledge, of course) that she spends a lot of time harping on your son when he's just a bit off task. (That "like every day" comment was out of line if you ask me! There is no reason to make him feel bad, especially in front of other students!) It help for her to use some of that energy to praise him when he is behaving. Praise always goes further. At any rate, good luck! I feel for you!

Psycho Kitty said...

Thanks, all. Oh, and I did say to her during our last conversation, "I hope you're finding time to encourage him when he *does* do what we want him to do." (e.g., hang up his coat, sit quietly) And she said, "Oh, I always try to take time to tell all the kids "Good job" or "You're smart." At which point I nearly crawled through the phone so that I could gently explain the difference between harmful praise and *encouragement* while softly pounding her head against her desk.

Krupskaya said...

This teacher so obviously expects the Boy to fail. She expects him to cause trouble, to forget, to do things "wrong," and she doesn't let an opportunity go by to let him realize that. "Like every day"? WTF? Why the hell should he bother remembering to hang his coat up when the teacher obviously expects him to forget anyway? By saying "like every day" she's telling him that she DOESN'T expect him to do it, that she expects to remind him every day, so there's no point for him to even bother.

This woman is POISON. Do NOT feel guilty for realizing that she is poison. At the same time, do NOT feel guilty for not knowing what direction to take, either. You sound like a powerful antidote to this horrible person.

OMG, give me your address so I can send you a belated Christmas present of "How to talk so your kids will listen and listen so your kids will talk" (I swear, I do NOT get a royalty for the book) so you can read it and then whack her with it. OHHHH, I'm so burned up on your behalf!