Monday, September 17, 2012
Love Monster Goes to School: Part Three- Called to the Principal's Office
I cried during my drives to work. I hated to leave Love Monster (and Smirker, don't even get me started with Day Care). And when I drove home I couldn’t wait to to pick her up, but I dreaded it at the same time. I listened to David Sedaris’ When You are Engulfed in Flames and I can’t tell you how much that helped me. Between David being in his underwear in a French waiting room and accidentally spitting a lozenge on a woman crotch, I made it through and laughed through the tears. I imagined how David Sedaris would write about the Love Monster saga. I think he would love the part where Love Monster tried to figure out how the bathroom works. This sends me into a spin.
I shout aloud in my empty car, “My god you sent a kid with ADHD to the bathroom on the fourth fucking day of kindergarten the way you would a normal kid, what the hell else did you expect to happen?? You’re lucky she didn’t dismantle the fucking pipes and build a water slide!”
Then I laughed to myself. I have most certainly cracked. While laughing I saw my smiling ID card for work looking up at me from the cup holder.
“What are you smiling at?? You leave your kid everyday at school and then even longer in the after school program, because you have to work?? Oh and she’s struggling hard core. What kind of mom are you?”
I liken this to David Sedaris talking to a human skeleton, his Christmas gift to Hugh one year, who kept telling David he was going to die.
“You are a career woman now,” My corporate self kept telling me (She does look dazzling in the new Banana Republic work duds).
That night after another not stellar report from school. I let myself have a full on melt down. This transition was much harder then I ever had anticipated. I sat on the couch stared into space and in full on crazy mode said over and over, “I am a good mom. I am a good mom. I am a good mom.”
Did I make her like this? What should I have done different?
I started writing down all the things I want my girls to learn:
Respect me and adult. I will respect you too. You deserve that.
The Rules are there to keep you safe.
Sometimes school will be hard, but always look for the fun and in the end it will be great.
If you are not sure about something ask. Questions make you smarter.
You are a great leader, but to be one you need to be a good follower too.
Respect your teacher. They give you gifts everyday. They tell you what they know. It makes you a better person.
Being a good friend is being a good listener, playing nice, sharing and having fun!
I go back to my mantra:
“I am a good mom. I am a.... fuck it. I’m a mom. Deal with it.”
Who was I telling to deal? I don’t know.
It my my fault the next day started badly. Right before we left the house for school both the girls needed water. (Smirker has started pre-k by the way so I get double the crying now, but luckily she behaves once I leave). So I get the waters putting my schedule off by a few minutes, which I needed to chill about, but it can totally make or break my traffic situation. Then Smirker needed me to hold her and then she spilled her water all over me and I lost it and threw her water on the floor. Both girls start crying. Damn.
“I’m sorry!” I say now filled with guilt.
I drop Smirker off at preschool leaving her wailing on the floor. (Seriously this shit better get better, because that feels like full on abandonment every damn day). Meanwhile my worry has begun with Love Monster. I feel resistance in her and my loss of temper had definitely aggravated her already fragile state.
My worry was well founded. It was the worse drop off day to date. She cried so hard I thought she might throw up. She screamed, “Don’t go!” over and over and ran after me if I tried to leave.
And I don’t blame her. All she’s felt is negativity.
I leave her screaming for me. My heart is heavy and I called her dad. He listened and had my back. It’s nice that even though we are no longer together, he and I are a united front when it comes to the girls.
I drive with David Sedaris, my wonderful distractor, but it’s not working as much as before. I’m pissed about traffic. I talked to my boyfriend on the phone.
“And it’s going to take me two hours to get to work now that I’m late!” I yelled. He listened generously. “I’m gonna go. I’m just going to... drive.” My voice sounded hollow. It was all I could think of to say... drive.
And God, parted the cars ahead of me and gave me a smooth drive as if to say, “I can at least give her this.”
I focused on the truck ahead of me and a long piece of binding plastic was dragging the road behind it. I imagined my tires stepping on it like someone might step on the back of someone’s shoes and tripping it and my life turning into a cartoon.
But it’s not is it?
I never got in trouble at school when I was a kid. Never. And one week into Kindergarten a school meeting is called. The teacher told me in the middle of one of Love Monster’s tantrums when I was leaving her at school.
I heard,” We need to meet with the principal, school psychologist and teachers.” I also heard (very tenderly), “maybe she shouldn’t be in this class.”
Great. I feel like I’m in trouble. My heart sank. And I also feel like she’s being passed over.
I’m nervous. Although I’m also aware things are getting better. The mystery of the lost evaluation was solved. The good old “slipped through the cracks” excuse. Oh I love administrative fuck ups! Ahh well. Honestly I know it happens. But it really sucks when it happens to your kid. But the teachers were aware of it at this point and started working with Love Monster more closely and gave her a sticker every day she has a good day. An occupational therapist began seeing her in school and was giving her techniques that seemed to really work. One being a weighed vest that she wears in class. It literally slows her down and gives her a feeling of comfort, kind of like being held. I was wary of this at first, but then I saw it in action. And it works. And she loves it!
Before the meeting I prepare like only a crazy, anal person like myself can. I write everything I want to say down. I write how I’m frustrated she was left to flounder. How I want everyone to see what a great kid she is. How I want her to learn and love her like I do. How positive reinforcement goes a long way with her, giving her a job is very helpful, she loves a written down plan and she needs some nurturing right now and maybe don’t let her go to the bathroom without an adult right now. Yes she has issues and that needs to be acknowledged and I am NOT using that as an excuse. I just want her set up for success and not failure.
And from the moment the meeting starts, I relax. It is very clear they are 100% on our side, on Love Monster’s side. They apologize for the evaluation debacle and for an hour we talk about how to help Love Monster. They assure me she does belong in this class and we talk about all the great things about her and they listen with smiles on their faces. I realize. They love her and her success is important to them. They validate the fact that she does have special needs and they should have been tended to immediately to avoid problems that happened. I feel so lucky to have these teachers. She belongs here. And we have a plan. Just like Love Monster likes.
When I picked her up that day it wasn’t smooth. She had made a girl cry because the girl had the same hair do as her and Love Monster wanted to be different. Ugh. It’s going to take time. But we’ll get there. I hope.
Then they both have good days!!! I’m so freaking excited that we immediately go out to pizza and ice cream. I call their dad. We are so happy and relieved. I smile and look at my little girl. My little Love Monster.
My smile fades.
I have a dash of doubt. I know I shouldn’t. But I do. I am so protective of her. I’m scared. I’m scared of so many things for her. Now it’s learning how to be a student, how to be safe on the play ground, making friends and having a good self esteem. Later the things I’m scared of for her... I have a deep, dark secret fear when it comes to Love Monster that is too much for me write down. I can’t write it down for all to see. Maybe I’m afraid it will become real. I hope the fear dissipates. It’s terrifying. But I do have hope.
Even though just the other after getting in trouble she told me, “ But mom I stepped on that boy’s head SOFTLY.”
For now, I know I’m leaving her in very capable, no, extraordinary hands with her teachers. And for now Love Monster walking into the classroom, smiling and telling me how excited she is for mystery reader time is good enough for me.
This is the perfect picture of Love Monster. In motion and loving life.