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.
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.
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.
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.