Sunday, September 16, 2012

Love Monster Goes to School: Part Two- Struggling

There is nothing worse then seeing your child struggle. Nothing. And for the next week and a half that’s all I saw. The first day was a cake walk compared to days that followed.   Drops offs were torture. She cried in agony. She trusted no one. She was combative during the school day. She was not listening. She was... Love Monster Plus. I know she’s a handful, but under stress her hyper, non-focused, control-less self comes out like The Hulk. It’s like the ADHD takes her moment of weakness to control of every cell in her body and the sweet girl I know is no where to be found. 
This was so different from the back to school event the day before school started where she walked right up to a fifth grader and asked what her name was and if liked tick-tac-toe and hide and seek. My confident, fun girl was gone.

And then my worries got even worse. I picked her up the fourth day of Kinder (She stays at the after school program until I get off work) and I see her sitting alone on one side of the room. She is in trouble.
The teacher in there looked exasperated (I feel ya girl). “Love Monster, your mom is here.” The teacher said.
Love Monster ran up to me and hugged me hard. “I’m so glad you’re here.”
“She was hitting and pinching. She also went to the wrong bathroom and played for a while. We had to go looking for her,” The teacher said.
“By herself?” I asked
“No she was with another girl. The girl just didn’t know what to do. She just stayed there with her.”
“Mama, I just wanted to see how it all worked,” Love Monster said starting to cry.
“It was real safety issue,” the teacher said. “She gets a strike. Three strikes and she can’t come to after school anymore.”
“You know she has an IEP-” I started (meaning her evaluation).
“That’s not an excuse,” she told me cutting me off.
Whoa. Mama bear is coming out.
I get it. I taught for years. I've seen parents use special needs as an excuse, at least I’d perceived it that way, before. But that was NOT what I was saying. Don’t they need to know her issues so they can help her have a good day? She’s five. This is her first time in school. She has ADHD. She needs help doing this!
It became clear to me by the way she was being handled that they had no idea she had an evaluation. They had no idea she had special needs. I was afraid my biggest fear was coming true. That they just thought she was bad kid.

I saw more examples of this in the days that followed. To get her to go to school was a struggle. She thought it was such a negative place. I had to give some sort of incentive. Love Monster is proud of things she makes so I told her, “How about you show this book you wrote with me to your teachers?”
“Yes!” She said bringing a little light back to her eyes.
But again everyone was adjusting to the first days of school and I don’t think they were that were that aware of the extent of help she might need. So when she ran into the class and showed them the book, they just told her, “You have to wait until share time.” I sigh disappointed. All she needed was one positive comment to get the day started. I don’t fault them at all. The teachers in that class are AMAZING, but I was frustrated. We were not on the same page. And Love Monster was paying the price. I knew a rocky start to school could be detrimental and completely derail her.

Love Monster’s eyes were full of tears and insecurity. “I’m gonna have a bad day again.” She said as I hugged her goodbye.
“No you’re going to do great,” I tried to say convincingly.
And she looked at me and I could tell, she felt unsafe, unloved and unworthy in this place.
And I had to go to work and try to endure the next 8 hours.
They don’t understand me, her eyes told me.
They will. God I hope they will.

**To be clear, she was completely safe and loved in this school. That is just how perceived that she felt.

TOMORROW: Called to the Principals Office

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