The School Called And I Nearly Cried

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Whenever the school calls, I immediately tense up.

I got a call today.  1.5 weeks into the school year.

It’s usually the Discipline Lady.  Or the Principal.

Could also be the SPED (special education) teacher.

But it’s never good.

“Hi, so….your child is….okay….but…

We are writing him up for an incident…

He didn’t start it…but…

He pushed/kicked/swore/defied more than the others….

And we frankly just can’t figure out how to get the other kids to control themselves or be nice….

It’s just easier to focus on individuals and not group dynamics….

If he didn’t have an IEP he’d be suspended….so….you know….we’re kind of doing you a favor….

We’re hoping the parents of the other kids will instill the fear of God so we don’t have to….

It’s all within the law.  We’ve covered our bases.

It’s really just a formality.  We just have to let you know.

If it happens again we may have to take it to the next level.”

What’s the next level?  Hell?

I’m so tired of the complaints.  Some days feel like nothing but complaints.  Random kids in parks complain.  Teachers, coaches, neighbors, even family members.  People who know him, know us and even know a little bit about what he’s up against, still complain.

He is in the way.

He is not sharing.

He is refusing to comply.

He is not listening.

He is not participating.

He hugs too hard.  

He’s being rude.

He is swearing.

He is laughing at an inappropriate moment.

He is doing something dangerous.

He is playing with his sensory sand too much.  

He is spilling his sensory sand too much.

He is swearing too much.

He is out of control.

He is too loud.

He’s acting like a beast.

He’s too much.

And I’m supposed to fix it.

That’s the implication when your kid is misbehaving.  9 times out of 10, the solution is punish harder.  It’s an instinct and I get it.  But it’s wrong.   I’m supposed to know how to make him stop.  But it’s not that easy.  Sometimes the easiest thing to do is just leave.  I’ve learned to leave or just not bring him places.

Here’s the deal – ADHD kids have a big disconnect between knowing right from wrong and being able to tap into that knowledge when impulsive instincts take over.  It’s like trying to google the nearest public restroom with no wifi…you’re going to pee your pants before you get the response you’re looking for, no matter how many times you hit send.  ADHD kids just react when nature calls.  To script or train more socially acceptable reactions takes time and patience under every conceivable scenario.  Time and patience are something our culture seems to be extremely stingy with.

So…I was nearly paralyzed with anxiety over him starting this school year.

I really, really want it to go easier for him this year.

Success for students is measured in academics and social engagement.  ADHD kids also have IEP goals.  And then there are the “incidents” when some major school rule is broken.  My little guy did very well academically last year.  He struggled socially and as a result he had many incidents.  The school tracks every single incident and in some cases has to report them to the state, even if the student has an IEP.  Incidents indicate a lack of self control.

It’s surreal to me that my highest hope for my child is not to perform in the highest percentiles in reading and math, or be Mr. Popular, or an all star athlete.  My greatest hope for 3rd grade is to have zero or near zero incidents.

Why?

Because it means he has figured out how to side step conflicts with his peers.  He’s matured enough to ignore the provocations.  He has the self control to not respond in kind.  It means, frankly a fucking miracle has happened for him.  He wants more than anything to do the right thing, what he knows to do, even in the heat of the moment, when kids are being mean or the circumstances are stressful.  He wants that more than anyone.

Today, 1.5 weeks into the school year, I got that call.  The school ID lit up my phone screen.  I tensed up automatically as my body is now conditioned to do.

Brace your self.

Breathe.

It’ll be okay.

“Hi, this is the SPED teacher.

Um, yeah, so I just wanted to let you know that little man has had an AWESOME week!  It’s been really excellent.  He’s a little worried because he only got a B mark today, but we are super excited about how he’s doing.  We just wanted you to know.”

I thanked him.

I hung up and realized I hadn’t exhaled yet.

My chest was pounding now with joy instead of trepidation.

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Joy, joy, joy….cranes and happy dog…THIS is how I feel right now!

I’m knocking wood all over the place.

Thank you, thank you to all the positive, loving lights who led us through uncertain waters to an island of hope.

xo

11 thoughts on “The School Called And I Nearly Cried

    1. Thank you, Ileana! You know what? He woke up this morning and was bummed it wasn’t a school day! I couldn’t believe my ears. I asked him why. He said because he has so many friends to play with, there are lots of soccer balls on the sports court, he gets to use his ipad for writing and math (part of his IEP), and there are other “cool” things to do. He mentioned the joyful sounds of kids playing and how happy it makes him feel. I was flabbergasted. I never thought I’d ever hear him say this…and so soon after his horrific year last year!! I’m trying to absorb this moment fully. This is HUGE for us.

      1. Wow! That’s so amazing and I’m so happy for him! Kids never cease to amaze me in their sheer resilience!

  1. Would you be able to let us know how things are going now? As a mom attempting to get an IEP for my Kindergartener, I’d love to hear!

    1. Hi Elizabeth, I just published a little update but there is more to share. I’ve been playing major catch up with the rest of my life since he’s been doing so well this year! https://decodingadhd.com/2015/09/30/celebrate-every-victory/

      I have much to share on the therapies I feel helped us the most. I do recommend getting an IEP if you feel your child needs extra support to be successful and happy. It’s made a big difference for my guy. It’s also critical to have an advocate within the school. That is bigger than an IEP but often you need an IEP to get that.

      1. Thank you so much, this is SO reassuring and heartening to hear. I started following your blog last summer, looking for alternatives to meds that might actually work, and intrigued by all you’ve tried. Very much looking forward to the post on therapies you think helped most. How wonderful you can now focus on everything else in your life that matters (hopefully including yourself!) After months of research that has consumed almost every waking thought, I’m looking forward to eventually getting to that point.

        Congratulations to all of you! I’m truly in awe of your perseverance in finding ways to help your wonderful boy. 🙂

      2. I am super excited to share in more depth. I have hesitated with some things because I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I’ve been down so many rabbit holes. It’s SOOOO confusing out there. So many “experts” and yet every child is so unique and different. How do you know what is really the best answer? It’s beyond stressful. I think that Dr. Hallowell says it best when he says the number one therapy that works is LOVE. Love and trust your child. If they knew or could do better, they would…children WANT to please the adults they love so much. When they mess up, it’s because impulses or abilities are out of sync. That’s often hard to remember when it’s the 1000th time in a day when something is broken, or they are melting down like a two year old or they just never, ever pause to chill out…it’s exhausting. And having outsiders giving free and often inappropriate advice does not help. Hang in there! I will try to do a run down soon.

        In the mean time, have you seen Dr. Walsh’s book “Nutrient Power”? GREAT place to start: http://www.amazon.com/Nutrient-Power-Heal-Biochemistry-Brain/dp/1626361282

      3. Thank you so much, I’ve got the book in my Amazon cart.

        With so many centers claiming miracle cures, and reviews that seem written by company reps, it’s so hard to know who to trust, so it’s great to hear from a parent who’s actually had results.

        I do remember you writing about diet awhile back…(I thought I’d remembered you giving a lot of details on changes you’d made but can’t find it now in your archives.) We’ve gone gf/cf and have added a number of supplements, but unfortunately have had minimal improvement. I’ll be interested to hear what you’ve done!

        Thank you again so much for sharing your experiences.

      4. Yes, we try to be GFDFSF but do allow some cheeses and kefir because the protein and fat is so important for the brain and there are only so many ways my boy will take it…if I have a non-dairy option I use it…but his nature is so stubborn that I really have to pick my battles…diet is one that I try to always move towards whole, veggie and healthy but I’m not super strict b/c it’s not about being perfect, it’s about developing healthier patterns and habits that nourish…the main thing is to avoid refined sugars and anything that turns immediately into sugars…that stuff is poison to the body and the brain…but that’s what food makers put in everything bc the brain loves it…

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