Friday, January 11, 2013

Its like riding a bike, right???

So...yeah.  Hi. Again.

I started to write a few days ago, a "quick" review of our last several months & why I've not been jibber jabbing a stream of consciousness meltdown on the blog since the first week of 1st grade.  But it turns out my brain is lacking "quick review" mode, so after about three pages (complete with dialogue), I decided my quick review had turned into a rambling narrative of superfluous details and over-sharing (I know, so out of character....)

So I trashed it.  Gory details aside--Husband and I had a disagreement with the school as to what exactly Ethan needed to be a successful student (their side: an ADHD diagnosis and medication.  our side: a teacher whose classroom management skills went beyond sending children to the office & a little bit more time to mature.)  Complaints about his behavior never went beyond "he's too silly."  Complaints about his academics never went beyond "he doens't work as quickly as his classmates" and "he gets distracted easily." We went through THREE separate evaluations for ADD/ADHD with three separate medical professionals, all of whom said ADD was a possibility, but NONE of them wanted to see Ethan medicated at this point.  The only people who wanted to medicate him were the teacher & the principal.  And they just wouldn't let it go.

I'm not anti-medication.  If even one of the medical professionals we saw had recommended putting him on meds, we would have given it a try.  Lord knows on any given day, I'm a pharmaceutical sundae with a lorazepam cherry on top.  But he's six.  And people with medical degrees said medicating him at this age, for this low-level degree of ADHD evidence just didn't make sense.  There's plenty of time to keep our eyes on this & see when/if he grows out of the "sillies" and if his motor skills catch up with his brain's speed & what type of strategies we can work on to help him stay focused in class.

The school didn't like this approach, and with sad, disappointed eyes, the principal told me that our son was "hurting" and that "we could help him if we would just be open to the idea of medication."  I'll be honest; there were times when I thought she might slip me a pill or two under her desk and say, "the first 2 are free....."

So after several lengthy discussions with the teacher & amongst ourselves, Husband and I agreed that paying private school tuition for our son to sit in the office with his work, unsupervised, separated from his peers, his self-esteemed being chipped away at and then having to be told "he's falling behind academically" (um.  perhaps because the teacher kicks him out of class daily so he's never there for instruction), was simply not worth it.

Uprooting him from the school sucked--we'd made a lot of friends and we loved the philosophy of the school & the feeling of being part of such a small community.  But the public system here is amazing and far more structured (which is something a potentially ADHD kid needs) and if he ever does need services to help deal with a learning challenge, he can get it in a variety of forms before pill form.

The first week has been a mixed bag--as is his way, he was super excited and social the first 3 days.  Ethan LOVES change and newness--until the slightest bit of shine has scuffed off of it; then he takes a moment and looks back at what he's left behind in exchange for the not that shiny anymore new thing & he loses his shit.  So Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, he was all kinds of enthusiastic--telling me about his class mates, recess, the utter bliss of the potential to eat Hot! School! Lunch!, how he was the teacher's helper and got to lead the Pledge of Allegiance (which they never said at his old school, so he was very confused as to why we "pray to the American flag."  When I told him its not a prayer, it's just our way of saying "Yup! We're American!" every morning, he responded, "Why can't we just stand up and say, "Yup, we're American!"  That would be a lot easier.")

Disaster struck on Thursday morning when, like a pressure cooker of stress, he just went off.  He's been so great through all the transitions we've foisted on him in the past month, I knew something was going to give--I just really had hoped it was going to happen in the privacy of our own home, or among long-time friends.  Not at 8:15am, in the parking lot of his school during drop-off rush hour. In front of a bunch of people we have never so much as said "hello" to, because its only day 4!!!

In unprecedented defiance and stubbornness, Ethan simply refused to get out of the car.  Any time I went to reach for him, he scooted to another part of the car.  When I went to get him out of his side of the car, he climbed into the driver's seat.  When I went back to the driver's door, he scrambled to the floor of the passenger side.  All the while sobbing about how he hated this school and he loved his old school and this school was too big and he was afraid of it and couldn't I just home school him instead (as IF!!!!)  This went on until I started taking away privileges....and then toys....and then ALL the toys.

I had just about reached my limit (at which point I would have thrown all self-consciousness  to the wind and yanked him out by his hair if I'd had to) when the school called my cell phone.  To confirm that Ethan was absent from his class.  I explained that we were actually ON school grounds, but that we were having a hard time getting out of the car.  Thankfully the administrative assistant laughed and said "yes, this happens.  Take your time."  Such a huge relief to be reassured that my child is not the only kid who's ever temporarily lost their sanity in the school parking lot.

I finally managed to get him out of the car (the sneaky "just come give me a hug and then we can talk more about this," trick which turned into the vice-grip hug and pull out of the car move).  There was much wailing and crying and clinging.  Graciously, the office gave us an "excused" late slip to get us into class and the teacher kindly peeled my not-quite 40-lbs of sobbing son off of me & I tip-toed at breakneck speed out of there.

He did fine.  At 2:30, he came out smiling and laughing with his classmates, having lost ANOTHER tooth (both front teeth are gone & he's sporting that fabulous two-tooth gap).  There was much discussion over why the morning had gone the way it did, he apologized for his behavior, he did his homework happily and without distraction.  This morning, when I parked the car, he was unbuckling his seatbelt and ready to go.  We walked onto the play yard & he took off running with a friend.    I am holding my breath that yesterday was the start & finish of The Crazy.

If not, we're going to have to see about installing an automatic seat ejector for future drop offs.


Anonymous said...

Oh, don't worry, you are not the only one. The first week of school? Noni literally would run away. She'd get in the line with all the other kids to walk into school and then just turn and bolt toward home (which wasn't the worst idea, as we live only a block from school.) I would have to run, catch her, and drag her to the classroom where the teacher had to physically drag her into the classroom. But it's been smiles and sunshine ever since so I think it's just a natural reaction of (some) kids when they are dealing with anxiety. Glad that otherwise things are going well and I love the "Yup, we're American" comment. :)

Sarah said...

automatic ejector seat-- ha! I think you did the right thing. you know E best (and I'd take the word of 3 medical experts over a lazy sounding school staff any day.

Becca said...

OMG, I laughed SO HARD at "pharmaceutical sundae with a lorazepam cherry on top". You have a way with words. I am so glad to see a new post from you!

And I am so sorry you had such a bad experience at his old school. That attitude is inexcusable! We had MAJOR focus issues at the beginning of this year (K) and after lots of emailing with the teacher and tears (from me and C) I went to talk to the teacher in person and she said "He's five years old, this is new, and I want him to like it. If he doesn't want to color, let's just not worry about it." PROBLEM SOLVED. And now he is doing much better. I so hope you have a similar good experience at the new school.

Also, I made a total spectacle of myself in the preschool parking lot when Wes pulled the darting all over the car trick. I'm surprised no one called the cops. So angry.

Chiconky said...

I totally agree that you guys made the right choice. Seriously, after three evaluations if they were still pushing meds you were never going to reach a happy medium. I'm sorry for your parking lot crazy, but I have to admit that the imagery made me laugh :) Here's hoping he flourishes at the new school!

SnarkyMommy said...

I am willing to bet the teacher didn't have a young child... Jack's teacher the last three years didn't know how to deal with the young-boy-craziness and it was rough at times. Now, his teacher has a daughter the same age (not a son, but better than nothing) and it's so so SO much better.

Glad to hear you fought the power. Too many parents are bullied into medicating something their child might a. grow out of and b. might just be part of being 6 and c. makes them who they are. Medicating the spirit out of them isn't right. Sure, there are cases that warrant, but at this age, they're few and far between, in my opinion!

lonek8 said...

the attitude of your old school is infuriating, and I'm glad you stuck to your guns and did what you felt is best. Sounds like the new school is going to be great (minus thursday morning, lol)

yay, you are back blogging!

Pam said...

While I have no comments on the school drama (but I've heard a lot of similar stories which makes we really wonder what new teachers are being taught in their education classes: "don't teach unless the kids are drugged"?), I'm just so happy you're back!!!!!