Thursday, February 15, 2007

Again with my son

Before me I spy the Long Weekend. Oh Goodie.

Last week was a long weekend too. Back to Back long weekends, Lincoln's Birthday and President's Day. (See. Now I'm confused. I though President's Day was the combination of Lincoln + Washington. How do you celebrate one and a half holidays? Poor George.)

Remember all the drama with my son this Fall? How we had to pull him out of school for two weeks and get him a new teacher in October, along with a Special Purpose Aide? Remember how I told the school in December that he was going to act up in January, and how they didn't believe me or my husband and instead called the cops on him when he dove under a table?

Add up the days from the start of school in August to the date when we pulled him out, and then add up the days since school came back into session in January until today, and you're almost at the same number. And I'm RIGHT back where I started. (Except this current teacher doesn't terrify Saul. Well, except for that calling the cops thing.)

Monday, Feb 5, Saul was out of school for testing. Tuesday, I drop him off at school in a cold drizzle. When I picked him up from school he's plastered in mud.

"What's the deal, kid?"
"It was a horrible day. I had a substitute and Nate [his aide] never showed up. I got really upset and spent all day outside."
"Was there anyone with you?"
"Yeah. Some lady. I missed lunch."
"Wait. The Burger King lunch you won for having such good behavior last week?"
"Yeah. I couldn't come inside."

Breaks my heart.

Tuesday night he can't sleep. Wednesday, I have an appointment with a lawyer to figure out what the hell my options are with his former teacher who is still telling parents that he assaulted her. Also I've learned that on two separate occasions the School Psychologist has talked about my son on the Kindergarten playground with other Kindergarten parents. So I had to visit a lawyer.

Therefore, Wednesday morning, Dear Butcher is to take the younger two kids to school. He and my son got into a fight over whether it was OK to play Gameboy before school, and then my son refused to go at all. Dear Butcher ended up dropping him off at a babysitter's. (Thank God for her.)

Thursday I go in with my son: No Teacher. No Aide. WTF? I'm hanging out with him in the hallway, trying to figure out what to do, when in through the door strolls the Assistant Superintendent of Special Education.

"Hi! I'm your son's aide today!"
"Grade level staff is at a training in the District Office on Crisis Management. So I'm here to look after the five kids who need aides in this grade."
**Light dawns.**
"Where you the lady who stayed with Saul outside on Tuesday?"
"Yup. Two hours. Rain. Mud. That was me."

Can't fault her dedication there.

My son stayed at school only until 1:00 on Thursday. Friday he went to school and stayed only until 11:00. Saturday, he got annoyed at a friend of his older sister and ran away (around the block and came back, but he had no shoes, it was raining, and I had to leave a house full of kids to follow him). Monday--no school. Tuesday, he was at the babysitter's and ran away with no shoes in the mud. (She also had to leave a house full of kids, but most of them were mine.) Yesterday, I got a call from school that my son had left campus. They thought his aide was with him, but they weren't sure.

I went out to my car to start trolling the neighborhood. When I opened my garage door, there was his aide standing in my driveway.

"So this is where you live."
"Uh. Yeah."
"Saul said he was going home, but I didn't know where that was."

Saul and I sat on the front step a little; I gave him some water, and we talked about walking back to school so that the Principal could know that he was OK. He agreed.

Those of you who have been following his story will love this next part.

A cop car pulls up. Out come two cops. My son ducks behind me, growls, and says, "I'm NOT talking to them."
"I know. I will. I'll get rid of them."

Can I just say here how very annoying cops are when you are dealing with an eight year old? I'm the mother, this is my house, this is my son, this is my son's Special Purpose Aide, and everything is now fine. Thank you, Officer. We're walking back to school.

No, you cannot talk to my son. I'm telling you he's fine. NO, you cannot ask him any questions. Look, he's scared of cops. He's not talking to you. I'm his mother--do you need to see ID? Because I'm the one in charge of him, and I say that everything's OK.

So the cops reluctantly get back in the car, but as they're getting in, one is talking on his shoulder walkie-talkie. As he shuts the door, he says, "The School Safety Resource Officer [another cop] will meet you at the school to ask you some questions."

I turn to my son. "And we're not talking to him either, OK?"
"OK, Mom."

After he got to school, he stormed out again (with me following), came back, settled, and then tried to leave again. The school staff tried to get him to sign a contract saying that he wouldn't leave without being signed out by his mother. He crumpled it up and left. He's got chutzpah, that kid. (The principal, to her credit, laughed. She doesn't believe in contracts, but her staff does.)

Today our one and only goal is to see if he can stay at school for most of the day. I don't care if he does any work at all. I just need him to be able to at least call me if he has trouble before walking out the door. I'd like him to stop being afraid that if he does "something wrong" at school that the cops are going to show up.

(Here's an interesting note--the reason he got so mad and left yesterday was because his teacher saw him thumb wrestling with his aide in the hall. She came out to tell him that he needed to come back into class and to "stop playing". It escalated from there. Thumb wrestling. Good grief, lay off, would you? That's why he HAS an aide. To help him relieve anxiety.)

This morning he's at school. It's 10:30, and he already has called me to come get him. I went, I talked, I thanked him for calling me when he was upset. I thanked him for waiting for me. We talked some more. I got him set up in the hallway working on some puzzle books, and he said he was fine. That he would call me before lunch.

Then the teacher comes out from the classroom with a worksheet, a project that the class is working on, and starts giving him detailed instructions as to how to fill it in. Ever want to completely strangle someone?

At some point in the next two weeks we'll get the psychiatric written report which will give us their specific medication recommendations. Until then, I'm basically back where I started. Sitting at home waiting for the next crisis to flare up.

(And I spoke to the psychologist on Friday after the Principal called her into the office to discuss the Kindergarten conversations. With her head tipped to the side and in her little tiny voice, she denied ever having a conversation about Saul. Well, yes. When pressed, she says that she did mention his name to another parent, but that parent brought him up first. But they didn't TALK about Saul. She's sorry that I'm upset, but she would never do *anything* to hurt Saul. Yeah. Except talk about him with other parents. I pointed out to her that the person who told me about the conversation was livid once she overheard it, and since I wasn't there, I have to judge by the strength of her anger that something did happen. And besides, ethically and legally you cannot mention any child's name to another parent. You cannot divulge any details of his educational plan. And I know that, and you know that. So shape up. She was only barely chagrined. Just barely.)


Bev (BB) said...

Did I ever tell you about a book called Guerrilla Learning? The actual title is longer but essentially it deals with how to help your children in spite of the system, within or without it. Here's the Amazon link:

JayP said...

I found your blog recently (through a romance related blog, I think) and I've come back since due to your stories about your son.

I just wanted to give you my heartfelt best wishes. My ds was dx with Asperger's at age 11 a year after we pulled him out of a rotten school situation to homeschool. Not that I'm suggesting that for you - I can see by your school board work that you are likely invested in making the public school situation work for your son.

At any rate, I've been there and I know the toll it takes on a parent. I'm rooting for you and your son.

Megan Frampton said...

Oh, Suisan, I can only imagine what you're going through. It sounds like you're doing everything it takes to help Saul. You get many, many bonus Mom-points for that.

Suisan said...

I don't know how dedicated I am to public education uber alles when it comes to my son. I do think that with his behavior issues, most private schools will kick him out. I went to private schools, I know. If you're academically challenged, they will work like hell with you. If you're behaviorally challenged, "perhaps this school isn't the right fit for this child."

The public school system HAS to educate him one way or another.

My goal now is to keep finetuning the IEP and get him through the end of the year. If at the end of the year he hasn't achieved his IEP goals (which at this rate, he won't), then I'm petitioning the District to show me what they plan to do to educate him. Eventually, I think that means a transfer to a private school a county away which works with anxious and Asperger's children.

The DIrector of Special Ed has already mentioned that placement, which is good, because I surely can't afford the tuition. (We just put in applications for my eldest to attend a private middle school next year. The kid's bored to tears. If that hurts me politically, then so what. She's my kid.)

I do keep seriously considering homeschool, but I think for at least the time being I really need to concnetrate on only being his Mother. I have enough trouble just doing that some days. To muddle that up with educating him is odd.

Besides, he's bright enough that if he comes out of this year learning nothing from Third Grade, I don't see that as a loss. About the only deficit there is not knowing the multiplication tables, and I'm not going to drive him nuts just to cram those down his throat.

CindyS said...

Saul couldn't have a better mom.


Kristie (J) said...

Oh Suisan, my heart just breaks hearing all the hassles you are getting from all around you. Sounds like you are doing the best you can and it also sounds like you are a most ferocious mother bear for your adorable little cub.

Fickle Fiona said...


As one deep in the throws of this flawed system I soooo feel for you. I just keep picturing little Saul running out of school barefoot. Does his teacher have the appropriate training to deal with him? I have found that our ESE department has recently become a "dumping ground" for teachers they couldn't leave in the gen ed classrooms, and if anyone needs educated, motivated and trained teachers, it's ESE.

Your patience is incredible! Bless you!


Bookwormom said...

You're all in my thoughts & prayers.

Kate R said...

Gah, it's so frustrating! I'm sorry. . . At least the aide seems to be on his side.