Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Problem Parent

You hear about those parents all the time don't you?

Whether it's sports, or school, or extracurricular activities such as Boy Scouts, there's always that one parent that all the others talk about. And there's always that one parent (or...twenty) whose name makes school administrators cringe.

They rock the boat. They speak their mind. They defy authority. They challenge convention.

They are usually not well liked, are they?

Well, I now find myself among their ranks. I also find that I don't really give a rat's ass.

For a lot of years, I tried not to be the boat rocker. But for a lot of years, I didn't understand the nature of my sons' problems. I thought he was simply "spirited". I let things happen that I shouldn't have because I thought that the school and the teachers knew best.

They are educated people, afterall.

I do not have a degree in education. I do not have a degree at all. And I let that stop me from trusting my own instincts.

No more.

You may have read about the incident that ocurred with my youngest son. It's just a couple of posts down if you haven't. In a nutshell, he said "Suck My Balls" in the lunchroom and they brought down the WRATH OF GOD upon him.

He had to eat lunch in the office for five days. He lost recess for five days. He lost Fun Friday that week. He lost the privilege of participating in Field Day.

For words.

He didn't hurt anybody. He didn't threaten to hurt anybody. He was not disrespectful to any of his peers or any member of the staff.

After discussing it with my husband and with Diminutive One's doctor, we agreed that this was unacceptable, for a multitude of reasons. Also, we were extremely displeased with the way he was treated during the course of investigating the incident.

So I wrote a letter to the Principal. I was going to post it for you here, but then I thought better of it. To my knowledge only three people have read that letter, but with my luck, some secretary who picked it up off the floor after the Principal crumpled it up and threw it across the room in a fit of rage, reads this blog.

So anyway, this letter stated unequivocally that we did not consent to these measures and that we considered one consequence at home and one consequence at school to be sufficient.

In addition, due to his ADHD and related disorders (anxiety) he was absolutely NOT to be denied recess.

Specifically, I said:

"Therefore, we expect that he will continue to have recess according to the customary allowances for all students."

I made it very clear that this was a decision that his mental health care provider was completely in agreement with, which she was.

There was a lot more, but you get the gist.

I sent the letter in his backpack this morning, and then spent the interim researching advocacy groups here in Georgia that provide assistance and representation to parents of children with disabilities in these types of situations.

Luckily, I have a friend who is a veritable encyclopedia of state resources of this kind. Her autistic son has been in public school with my oldest son since kindergarten. My experiences are a cake walk compared to what she has been through.

Once, while trying to help a Mom from another state who was relocating to Georgia with her autistic son, I called my friend to ask if she had any advice for this Mom. Her response was:

"Tell her not to."

That should tell give you some small idea of what I'm up against.

The Principal called while Husband was on a conference call. When I got her message, I decided to wait before calling her back to find out if Diminutive One had been denied recess today.

He had.

I saw red.

That was a ballsy move, but I expected it. She is not a pushover this gal.

But neither am I.

Husband and I called her back. I made Husband do the talking because I was so angry I was afraid that I would not be able to articulate my thoughts without coming off as a carping shrew.

I'm good with words and writing letters, (my letter rocked; I really do wish I could share it with you. Thanks for your invaluable insight AA.) but Husband is really better in a face to face confrontation. So I suppose we make a good team.

Basically, it went well. She was pretty tough, but Husband was tougher. At one point, she stated:

"You do not get to dictate what punishments take place here at school."

Husband politely but emphatically disagreed. She was noticeably taken aback at being directly challenged in that manner, and from there on her tune changed somewhat.

We got what we wanted, although the circumstances are slightly different than what we had dictated in the letter. But that's okay. A small concession on our part was worth it to achieve our objective.

All of that is really beside the point, however.

Whether you agree with our stance on this or not...whether you agree with how we handled this or not...(several readers have very politely expressed disagreement, and I truly appreciate their perspective)...what I want you to know is this:

You are your child's only advocate in a world that doesn't yet grant them a voice. If you believe that your child is being treated unfairly, do NOT be afraid to get in there and stir things up. Do not accept the mandates of an authority figure simply because they are in a position of power.

Be your child's voice. Be your child's champion.

You lose nothing by doing so, but gain everything.

I have plenty of regrets in how I have handled Diminutive One's disability. I wish I had had him evaluated sooner. I wish I had gotten him medicated sooner. I wish I had yelled less and listened more. I wish I had fought harder for him those two years he had SUCK ASS teachers who did inestimable damage to his self-esteem and his academic progress.

I don't plan to add any more regrets to that list if I can help it.

So.

I, or rather, we, are the problem parents now. And proud of it.

Goddamn that's a load off.

28 Comments:

  • At 3:38 PM, Blogger Trenches of Mommyhood said…

    I think you (and your husband!) are excellent advocates for your sons. I only hope I can be as strong if something like this should ever arise with any of my children.

     
  • At 4:21 PM, Anonymous Lisa said…

    Yay, I'm glad you took that route. Sometimes you just have to. I used to live in the Fayeteville/Peachtrea Sity (misspelled on purpose) area (for the life of me, I can't remember the school system name, and probably shouldn't mention it anyway. A good friend has an autistic son. What nightmares she has had. (I was just wondering if it was the same person, small world as this is!!) Anyway, she took him to Emory. The staff there was wonderful. Helped her know how to deal with the public education system....Have I said lately how much I HATE the south? BTW... my blog...if you want to read, I think you have to develop an LJ name because mine is locked. Let me know. Lisa

     
  • At 4:24 PM, Blogger the only daughter said…

    It is noble to advocate for your sons, to fight for them when you feel they have been wronged.

    In this case the punishments meted out seemed severe and arbitrary, especially considering D.O. was denied due process.

    You did not suggest that he receive no punishment at all, just that the punishment be reasonable given the crime & taking D.O.'s physical & emotional needs into consideration.

    YaY Mama & Papa

     
  • At 4:57 PM, Blogger Mitzi Green said…

    i'm usually only the problem parent until they meet bob's biological father. then the tune changes considerably.

     
  • At 6:14 PM, Blogger Day Dreamer said…

    Good girl.

    I agree completely.

    (Can't make it any clearer than that, can I?)

    Chin up...heels in!!!

     
  • At 6:46 PM, Blogger Chicky Chicky Baby said…

    Good on you two for sticking up for your son. You do make a good team.

     
  • At 7:36 PM, Blogger Cathy Burke said…

    You are your son's only advocate right now. I applaud you standing up for him. My five year old was denied recess on his THIRD day of kindergarten. (His "discipline" problem is actually auditory processing disorder). It was downhill from there. I ended up pulling him out of school and we will try kindergarten again this year (with a different teacher). My second grader has recently been bullied. But the best thing I did was make the principal my ally. Find an ally at your school or through the district. Try to make your principal part of the solution. You will have to fight for your kid and you will do better with someone else on your side. Good luck!!

     
  • At 7:45 PM, Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said…

    Good for you---all that squeaky wheel gets the grease stuff. . .

     
  • At 8:17 PM, Anonymous MommyWizdom said…

    Right on, BA! YOU are your child's ONLY advocate and don't ever forget it. It is too easy to let others do what "they think is best." It's much harder to stand up for what you believe in and fight (within reason of course!).

    I'm sorry your boy was made to suffer; but I'm glad that you were able to step in! Nicely done!

     
  • At 8:47 PM, Blogger Traceytreasure said…

    Both of your sons are lucky to have such a kick-ass team of parents. I'm rooting for a good outcome from all of this. If you don't fight for your kids rights, who will? I think the teacher should get the ASSHAT award of the year! Sorry, I've always wanted to use that word but didn't have a good enough reason. I'm trying not to cuss anymore. You can delete this comment if you want, I'll understand! Best of luck and hugs!

     
  • At 9:08 PM, Blogger Mom101 said…

    I love you as a boat rocker and in fact am surprised you don't see yourself naturally in that roll. I bet you could turn an oil tanker around on a dime if you set your mind to it.

    Go fight for your kid.

     
  • At 11:17 PM, Blogger margalit said…

    Welcome to the wonderful world of boat rocking parents. We welcome you with open arms. Good on you for standing your ground. If you don't, the school admin will walk all over you and your son. They seem to enjoy trying to be the winner at all cost. You can't let that happen if it affects your son negatively. There is nothing wrong with being a boat rocker, even if the admin doesn't support you. You're the advocate. You're the mom. You know your son better than they do, regardless of how "expert" they try to portray themselves.

    You rock!

     
  • At 11:57 PM, Anonymous Baroness von Bloggenschtern said…

    Years from now, probably when your sons are parents, they will realize what a wonderful gift you gave them in your advocacy. You and your husband are setting an example of action that will live on long after the situation requiring it has passed.

    I praise your strength, your love for your children, and your tenacity.

     
  • At 12:53 AM, Blogger Lara said…

    i realize there's really no good way to say this without sounding condescending and weird (since i'm only 25 and i have no kids of my own yet), but i'm totally proud of you for being such a kick-ass advocate for your child.

     
  • At 2:24 AM, Blogger Polgara said…

    Good for you, i hope i can do the same for my kids
    Pol x

     
  • At 4:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "You did not suggest that he receive no punishment at all, just that the punishment be reasonable given the crime & taking D.O.'s physical & emotional needs into consideration."

    Exactly! I was slightly concerned about the boat-rocking - I don't know you at all, but I enjoy your blog, and was hoping you wouldn't become one of THOSE parents who is convinced their child can do no wrong - but the punishment was completely over the top, and I will remember your strategy for tackling principals if I ever find myself in a similar situation!

     
  • At 8:54 AM, Anonymous Andrea said…

    You rock, woman (and man)! DO (and PO) are lucky to have you as their parents. They could have no better parents for their situations than you and Husband.

    The fact that you didn't disagree that punishment was warranted in this situation probably went a little further in the principal's estimation of you than if you'd tried to get him completely out of trouble.

    Did anything come of the teacher's idiotic Letter of Accusation that she had the whole class write? That right there should be looked into further, if you ask me. Which I know no one did, but hey, it's seriously a witch hunt designed to break down someone's resistance and completely unnecessary in a grade school classroom. I call bullshit. Hopefully that will be explored further.

     
  • At 8:58 AM, Anonymous Andrea said…

    Oh, and hopefully the principal learned a little something in this situation that one punishment does not fit all and she really should take into consideration each kid's situation on a case by case basis. Hopefully DO won't get into big trouble like this again. But if he does (and given that it didn't take much to get him into this big trouble, by only saying a few words) I hope the principal will communicate with you up front about the punishment served to make sure it's appropriate. And maybe take that idea and use it in future situations with all her students.

     
  • At 10:58 AM, Blogger sltbee69 said…

    I'm glad you got everything worked out. Hopefully, the principal has learned a lesson from this.

     
  • At 12:39 PM, Blogger Amy Y said…

    I am so, so proud of you, Mama. I have a feeling I'll be a "problem parent" one day too, if everything doesn't go the way I expect it too. My mom was, also.

    And though I might have found it a bit humiliating at times, her standing up for me when no one else would, even though my issues were silly and petty compared to D.O.'s, made me feel good. Knowing she was always in my corner gave me a confidence that I couldn't duplicate.

    I don't know how much D.O. knows about what's going on or how you're fighting for him, but I sure hope he knows how lucky he is to have you in HIS corner!

     
  • At 3:15 PM, Blogger Kevin Charnas said…

    BRAVA!! BRAVA!!!

    I know that it sucks sometimes to stand tough.

    And it would just be a whole lot easier if people didn't mistake kindness for weakness.

    But sometimes...SOMETIMES...these assholes need reminding.

    Good for you, my friend. And even better for Diminutive One.

     
  • At 5:26 PM, Anonymous Angela said…

    Well. Ahem.
    I was the pain the butt parent of the year last year.
    Also--I do have a degree in education. A couple actually. And um........that punishment? Was absolutely ridiculous and extreme beyond measure. You may not get to choose the punishments at school. However, you may choose to write letters to the board, the superintendent, the newspaper...the whoever you want to. And she gets to live with the fall out of that fun if she would like to.

     
  • At 10:12 PM, Blogger crazymumma said…

    I love this.

     
  • At 12:36 PM, Blogger Nachama said…

    It is taking all my self control not to organize a letter writing campaign from all mothers across the country who have children struggling with ADHD -- I think we should all write to that principal and tell her she is abusive and cruel and she is cordially invited to "SUCK OUR BALLS." That may be the first time I've used that particular expression, but this woman deserves it!!!!

     
  • At 12:38 PM, Blogger Nachama said…

    Oh, and by the way...a call from an attorney often works wonders...even if you have no real legal case. The superintendent of schools will not be pleased that this principal initiated actions that led to letters and calls from lawyers.

     
  • At 10:08 PM, OpenID wheelsonthebus said…

    Words can wound and hurt, and it is important for the school to take them seriously. I do not think all words are created equal. Had he taunted a child for her weight or say (hypothetically) called another child "the big fat F" in order to hurt, I would hope the wrath of the forces that be would have come down on him.

    The words he used are pretty bad, because they could constitute sexual harassment. If, say, he were 17. A 10 year old has no idea what they mean. He knew it was bad, but he thought (I would guess) that is was just like swearing. So, he was not taunting or trying to hurt anyone, and he certainly was not sexually harassing.

    He needed to have those words explained as possibly hurtful to someone else. Then, you are right, he needed one punishment at home and one at school.

    Taking away recess from ANY 10 year old is punishment for the afternoon teachers more than for the child. Only more so with a child who has ADHD. Is it even legal? Isn't recess state mandated?

    Overracting is one issue here, but moronic punishment is the bigger problem.

    If you hadn't noticed, I am sort of in a pissy, stand-up-for-your-kid kinda mood today.

     
  • At 10:11 PM, Blogger mamatulip said…

    YESSSSSSS!

    (said all hiss-like)

     
  • At 1:17 PM, Anonymous midlife mommy said…

    You are absolutely, positively doing the right thing. They clearly have their head up their collective butts. What you have described would be harsh punishment for someone without a disability.

     

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