It is never a good thing when the phone rings in the middle of the day and it’s someone calling from school.
It is a double plus ungood thing when the phone rings in the middle of the day and it’s the principal calling.
My day yesterday was going pretty well; Otto and I went out to breakfast, and later Tammy and I went out to lunch. (Yes, that much eating out is unusual for me. Apparently I’m just not very good at spreading these things out.) I was caught up on my work and looking forward to the weekend.
And then the phone rang and in very short order I wished I was back in bed.
He took his time getting to the point of the matter, too, which made it even harder, to have to listen to a dozen related-but-not pieces of information before finally getting to the heart of why he called.
BIT. With his TEETH. And let’s be perfectly clear, here: Monkey is almost eight and there is no justifying this. None. I am horrified.
With that said, indulge me in a few minutes of YES, BUT! Because, sweet cracker sandwich (thanks, Holly, for that phrase), my brain has been filling up with YES, BUT! ever since I got this call.
Let’s start with everything the principal rushed to tell me before telling me about the bite. Let’s start with the fact that my son has a diagnosis of Sensory Integration Disorder and Anxiety (the latter resulting from the former), and he has a 504 Plan in place, which is a federal mandate for the school to accommodate his issues. In moving to Georgia (and a significantly poorer school system) we have lost regular occupational therapy as part of Monkey’s accommodations, which is a big loss but, I suppose, understandable. OT is expensive. Although it helps him tremendously, it’s not that he can’t function without it. I get that. What the school has agreed to do for him, what the school is LEGALLY BOUND to provide for him by MUTUAL AGREEMENT, is something called The Wilbarger Brushing Protocol at regular intervals throughout the day. I will not bore you with the whys and wherefores, but suffice it to say that being brushed every 2-2.5 hours helps to “reset” his over-active circuits and keep him from becoming overly agitated.
Guess how many times Monkey was brushed yesterday. Go on, GUESS!
If you guessed “NOT AT ALL” you win a gold star and some righteous mommy indignation. Furthermore, if you guessed “HEY, SCHOOL ACTUALLY HAS BEEN SLACKING OFF ON THIS FOR WEEKS NOW” you also win a martini and a shot of outrage. BOTTOMS UP!
The school was supposed to designate an aide to be responsible for Monkey’s brushing and apparently they never did. He has been being brushed by different people every day (often his own teacher is doing it, which—while I appreciate that she’s doing that for him—is not her job), and only once or twice a day. His plan specifies that he be brushed a minimum of three times daily.
Monkey’s teacher was unexpectedly absent yesterday, too. Maybe not a big deal for a regular kid, but kind of a big deal for a kid with anxiety issues. And guess what? Anxiety issues + absent teacher + no sensory treatment + playground sensory overload + scuffle with another child = Monkey vampire. Who knew?
Does any of this EXCUSE my son for putting his teeth on another person? ABSOLUTELY NOT. That’s not an acceptable response at any time, for any reason, and I am angry and disappointed with him.
ON THE OTHER HAND, this is a kid who is prone to outbursts, yes. This is a kid who screams when he’s angry/frustrated. This is not a child who reacts with physical violence. (Threatening physical violence? Oh, yes. I’ve heard him threaten in the throes of losing it. Actually harming someone? No.) And this is a kid who now has a sizable bruise on his thigh where a child (who was much larger than he is, and also, by the way, hi, WHERE THE HELL WERE THE PLAYGROUND MONITORS??) kicked him for his refusal to relinquish his hold on a piece of playground equipment.
How far do you have to push my child to get him to react this way? I can’t be certain, of course, but this I know: Pretty damn far.
The fact that the principal felt the need to give me ten minutes of exposition pointing out everything the school failed to do yesterday tells me that he knows my child isn’t a bad kid. But my child DID do something bad, he emphasized, and there needs to be a consequence.
I agree, of course.
What’s the consequence for the school neglecting to take care of my child, though?