I am trying.
I am trying to see and appreciate the good in the folks who are TRYING to help my child despite various limitations, be they the constraints of school policy, understaffing, or their own preconceived notions.
Or their own faulty memories.
So let’s get this right out of the way up front: I love Monkey’s teacher. I do. She’s a veteran and she has gone out of her way to to do certain things for him even when the school administration has dragged their feet, and despite the occasional interesting spelling (this week’s feature: candycorn! all one word!) I think she’s pretty good at her job. More importantly, I can tell that she genuinely cares for Monkey. I can forgive a lot in the face of genuine affection.
But I am reaching my limit.
Monkey is having a pretty difficult week; no one who’s come into contact with him lately is going to argue that. Whether the recent incident sparked this downward spiral or was merely the herald of a difficult time… well, that remains to be seen. The bottom line, however, is that he is struggling. (And if you can watch a kid like Monkey struggle and not have it make your heart hurt, you have no soul.)
So Monkey’s teacher called me up yesterday to discuss the current “situation,” and in the course of our conversation, she kept calling him… oh, let’s say… Lemur.
(You know, because a lemur and a monkey are SORT OF similar, but not really. And the words themselves aren’t similar at all.)
After the third “Well you know, Lemur sometimes—” I couldn’t take it anymore.
“MONKEY. His name is Monkey.”
“Oh, I know! That’s just our little joke, my little pet name for him.”
Here I almost dropped the phone. A pet name for a person is Snookums or Buddy or Scooter. A pet name for a person is NOT a name that BELONGS TO SOMEONE ELSE. (I know the pseudonyms may make this difficult to understand; think of it like this: Let’s say his real name is William, and she keeps calling him Steven. It’s like that. It’s WRONG WRONG WRONG.) And the sad part is that she DOES know his name. But she called him by the wrong name no less than FIVE times during the course of our discussion, and I have to tell you, even if she had pulled a dozen children out of a burning building during the course of our call, it would not have changed the tendrils of anger that were unfurling in me.
[As an aside: Does anyone remember that many years ago Chickadee also had a teacher who couldn’t get her name right? I am experiencing deja vu here.]
So there was that, and she also wanted to let me know that when Monkey had forgotten his folder the previous day, it was “because” he had a note from the gifted teacher about his misbehavior in her class.
“Come again? He often forgets his folder. That was something I wanted to talk to you about, actually….”
“Oh yes,” she responded with a chuckle, “I’m sure he just didn’t want you to see it. I do believe there’s some manipulation going on here.”
My child is many things, people. Not all of them are good. Some of them are less than desirable, sure. But I KNOW SNEAKY (see: firstborn girl child) and this is not a sneaky or manipulative kid. Open book, thy name is Monkey.
You know what Monkey IS? Monkey is very easily distracted. Monkey has been suspected of having ADD here and there, and eventually it was decided that his inattentiveness could be easily connected to his sensory overwhelmedness (okay, that might not be a word), and in times of stress/overload his distractability looks an awful lot like a kid with ADD. And? It is NOT HIS FAULT.
This doesn’t excuse him from doing what he’s supposed to do, of course. But it means that he needs extra help. He needs more support than the average kid in following some tasks through to completion. He needs extra reminders. He needs someone to check and make sure he did what he was supposed to.
If only there was a way to make all of this clear and get the school to agree to help him. OH WAIT. There is! IT’S ALL RIGHT THERE IN HIS 504 PLAN!
And that’s what I would’ve said, if I hadn’t been sitting there looking at the phone in my hand with disbelief while the teacher told me that “Lemur” is “plenty smart enough” to take care of these things, but is “clearly choosing not to.”
I am trying, here. But the gloves are about to come off.