Part of what we do as parents is walk a constant tightrope between what makes our kids comfortable and what makes them grow. I think we all do it. It’s such a delicate balance to strike, under the best of circumstances, and what I’m learning with my son is that his particular tightrope is thirty stories up. And occasionally lit on fire. And I’m on it, trying not to fall off.
In Monkey’s case, he has a specific set of social and behavioral challenges, right? And we desperately want to help him overcome those challenges. But a lot of things are hard for him that just aren’t for me or Otto or his sister, and knowing when to push it and when to say “enough” is getting harder as he gets older.
I guess wrong a lot. It sucks. It sucks for him and it makes me wonder if I’ll ever get to where I KNOW things with him instead of the clueless flailing I feel like I do most of the time.
This year, the bus became An Issue.
Prior to this year, both kids always went to the same school. Chickadee—much to her chagrin—was tasked with keeping an eye on her brother on the bus. She whined and complained about it, but the truth is that she dislikes putting up with him slightly less than she dislikes seeing him getting into trouble, so when it came down to him having a problem, most often the story included “And then Chickie put her hand over my mouth so I stopped talking” or “But then Chickie told him to stop picking on me.” She’s a marvelous big sister when she needs to be.
But this year, Chickadee moved on to the middle school, leaving Monkey to ride the bus alone. Furthermore, he’d switched schools, so it was a new bus driver and a new group of kids.
We wrestled with it. In the end, we decided that we wouldn’t make him ride in the morning; for one thing, on nice days we can walk (which is a great way to start the day for a kid who can always use a bit of vestibular regulation), and for another, we want to make sure he arrives at school in a good mood. So in the morning we walk or drop him off, but he rides the bus home.
And he hates it. And I make him ride anyway because it’s “good” for him to learn to deal with it.
The bus is loud. The bus is filled with big, foul-mouthed kids who pick on other kids. “Just sit in your seat and read a book,” we tell him. “It’s not a long ride. Just tough it out. You can do this.”
There have been multiple bus incidents. A few months back Monkey came inside wailing hysterically, telling me I had to go talk to the bus driver. It turned out that another child had punched him. But the bus driver wanted to tell me that Monkey had instigated it; Monkey was “pushing the other child” and this kid was just “retaliating in kind” after Monkey “whipped him with his jacket” while getting off the bus. Turns out that this kid was sticking his arms over the seat into Monkey’s space, and Monkey had asked him to please stop, and he wouldn’t, so Monkey tried to clear the space. Later he kind of flounced out of his seat and his jacket hit the other kid. I’m not saying my kid handled it perfectly, but let’s also note for the record that Monkey is approximately half this other child’s size. And Monkey pushed on his arms, while this other kid PUNCHED HIM IN THE HEAD.
The bus driver insisted Monkey was “barely touched” and was “just being melodramatic.” Monkey had a GIANT goose egg on his head. I insisted she write up the incident and she told me that if I was going to “make” her do that, she would be writing Monkey up as well. I told her to do what she needed to do. Monkey now has a behavioral incident on his permanent record, and it says that he was the instigator. Even though the other kid was fine. Even though the other kid provoked him. Even though he is supposed to be protected by his IEP from EXACTLY this sort of thing.
I spoke the the IEP committee. I spoke to school officials. He didn’t want to get back on the bus, but I made him. Because I was assured he would be okay, and because I think it’s a life skill he needs. Because he has to learn to put his head down and endure, sometimes. Because I wanted to believe the people who told me he’d be fine.
And I’m just going to say it: The bus driver is of a different ethnicity than us. And the other child involved is of that same ethnicity. And the bus driver clearly cannot STAND my child and talked to me like he was some shit she’d just scraped off her shoe, and I went over and over it with Otto, afterward, because—as I said to him—it cannot be possible that the subtext of “You think your horrible child should be treated better than us because you’re white” was really there, right? Because how could that be.
Twice more I was called out to the bus for “incidents” that made it clear that the bus driver had been informed of Monkey’s IEP and she just wanted to make sure that I understand what a terrible burden it is to her to have to drive my son five minutes to our door. One time she swore he’d misbehaved terribly (even though the other kid involved was right there going “no he didn’t”), and another time he’d hit his head and she wanted to make sure I knew that no one else was involved. Like maybe the CRAYZEE WHITE LADY would sue, or something. I don’t know.
And Monkey asks at least once a week to please not have to ride the bus. And at least once a week I tell him that sometimes in life we have to do things we don’t like very much.
Two days ago I was called out to the bus so that she could tell me that Monkey and another child had squabbled, and when told to be quiet, my charming son had retorted, “No, YOU be quiet.”
Let’s be clear: I don’t like this woman; I think she’s definitely not very nice and also quite possibly racist, but my children aren’t allowed to speak to adults (or anyone, really) that way. I apologized for his behavior and assured her that it would be dealt with. Back inside the house, I got Monkey’s side of the story. And even after cross-examination and combing through every detail, one key point stood at the end of it all:
She told him to SHUT UP.
I’m never going to tell you that my child is easy, and lord knows there are times when I’m tempted to speak to him unkindly because I’m at my wits’ end, but no. NO. You don’t get to tell my kid to shut up. You just DON’T.
We could fight; we could call for her dismissal, we could kick up a fuss, I could, furthermore, demand that they remove the previous incident from his record because CLEARLY this woman has no business working with children or making determinations about who’s in the wrong. We could do all of those things.
Except that I’m tired and my child has had enough.
Oh, I sent out the email. I let the entire IEP team and the principal of the school know what had happened. I told them that I would now be rearranging my schedule to provide transportation for my child, and that it’s a SHAME because I’m pretty sure the district is legally obligated to provide said transport, but that I can no longer in good conscience send my child into such a stressful situation every single day.
“Anyone who knows Monkey knows that he is most likely to act up in a situation where he doesn’t feel that he is safe,” I wrote to them. “I think by now we can all agree that he doesn’t feel safe on the bus, and with good reason.”
I want to be furious. I was furious, at first. Now I’m just tired. I am a product of public schools. I BELIEVE IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS. Even this particular public school has gone above and beyond for us in certain ways, but in so many ways they are just failing us, over and over, and I can’t keep letting my child pay the price.
So now I pick him up. And wrestle with the guilt of letting him ride for so long with that horrible woman. And in my mind’s eye I see a countdown clock, and I can’t read the numbers, but I know it’s the time we have left before I give up and pull him entirely, and become the world’s most reluctant homeschooler.
And even then, I’ll be on that tightrope… wondering if by keeping him safe I’m robbing him of the experience he needs to grow and endure. All I know is that this PARTICULAR experience is one I was wrong to make him tolerate all those months. And I’m so very sorry I did.
I’m a lurker – I rarely comment. I work in a public school. You are doing the right thing by bringing him both ways. I’ve done the same for both of my kids through all 13 long years (each). My son is a senior, and we still drive both ways. The buses are *rough* business. Keep Monkey off from them. (Have you tried requesting a SPED bus? If they have “transportation” documented in the IEP, then they have to give him a bus. I know we have a couple of kids in our school with the same thing that Monkey has, and they get SPED buses – door to door). Much smaller bus, and usually has an aide on the bus in addition to the bus driver.
You really shouldn’t beat yourself up over it all. Really. You did what you thought was best based on the information you had at the time. Based on what you’ve said, I would have made the same decision and we all know I’m a parenting genius. ;-)
Sigh. Buses suck and sometimes bus drivers suck. When I was a kid I asked to be moved to the high school only bus (which elementary students usually only rode if they were coming to out school from outside the boundaries for French immersion) because the mixed ages bus? The bus driver had no control. And liked to take both hands off of the wheel to adjust the sunscreen and put us in the ditch. A couple of times. In high school I used to walk to school rather than take a bus (well, when I couldn’t drive).
I believe in public schools but I also think that they don’t work 100% of the time for 100% of their students.
Give Monkey some love for me. And tell him I hated the bus too.
Riding the bus so traumatic for me as a child I will NEVER put my kids on a bus. And nobody was ever directly mean to me- but they were to my siblings- combined with the cussing, the fighting around me… The whole experience was miserable and fraught with anxiety.
And I think ALL school bus drivers should all have to take sensitivity training:( Gah. We had some real gems too.
I know lots of people don’t have the same experience I had…
My husband LOVED riding the bus..
But I think you are doing the right thing:)
If you do decide to take the leap into homeschooling, you know I’m here for you. It hasn’t fixed everything, and there are days I doubt myself, but Ryan is just overall so much happier since we pulled him from school. And I no longer have to worry each new school year if we’ll get a teacher willing to work with him or not.
p.s.-I grew up in public schools, and it was fine for me. But the bus rides I had to endure? Some of my worst memories during that time, hands down. Buses are awful.
Oh, as a sensitive kid I absolutely hated riding the bus. Pure torture.
Luckily, “permanent records” don’t really follow us beyond school. Hugs to your sweet Monkey.
Don’t beat yourself up over this. I left my now 30 year old daughter in a class when she was in high school in order to let her figure out how to handle adversity, only to find out later that the teacher actually HATED my girl. There was no way she was going to overcome that terrible situation. To make matters worse, I worked at the school! It was a learning experience for both of us. Praying for better days for sweet Monkey!
I never did ride the bus to school. Middle school was a long walk and Dad used to drop me off there on the way to work…but I had to walk home, which worked out well for the most part except for the day when I was jaywalking and got hit by a car. Fortunately, no serious injury done. I think you’re doing the right thing by avoiding that bus driver.
I know you’re tired of dealing with the situation, and I can’t blame you, but if she’s that horrible to Monkey, imagine how she is to some other children, or how she could be? I’d call for her dismissal if only to spare other children.
Mir, You are doing a great job. I don’t even know you but I read your blog enough to know you do not make these decisions lightly and you do it with the information you have at the time. Things change and your decisions may change accordingly. This is what makes you a good mother. Hang in there!
Mir – you are a great mother and made decisions based upon the knowledge as best you could – big hugs to you both.
Reading the comments I’m starting to think we must have the nicest, sweetest bus driver in the world. I didn’t realize they were in such short supply. I’m sorry she can’t drive Monkey to school, too.
You have such a way with words, Mir. And you’re doing the right thing. I know some truly terrible bus stories, some have to do with kids beating on other kids b/c of ethnicity, some are as terrible as kids doing coke in the backseats. And this is in one of the supposedly BEST schools systems in the entire country, one that has a high school that scored in one of the top ten ranks in the country a few years ago. I know you say that you are tired, but that bus driver truly does deserve to hear from her superiors about how she handled that situation. At some point, there’s going to be a kid on her bus getting treated badly, and their parents won’t be able to drop them off and pick them up every day. No kid should be subject to that kind of treatment from her.
Mir, I have about a million things I want to say to you, but instead I’ll just give you a book recommendation. “Parenting a Free Child” by Rue Kream. It’s wonderful.
This doesn’t matter now, but as adults, we don’t HAVE to learn to endure anything, really. We have choices. We can use our creativity to find alternatives to things that aren’t right. I think children need to be given those choices (and be helped to figure out what their choices might be) too. Isn’t it better to help them learn to find solutions that WORK rather than just learning to deal? If you HATED taking a bus every day, and you knew there was a way around it, wouldn’t you find another way?
I’m not trying to be argumentative or obnoxious – just sharing another point of view. I’m so sorry that that woman treated Monkey poorly. There is no excuse for that. :(
Another lurker, here. I just had to say how sorry I am that Monkey has been treated so badly, and that you’ve had to make such a tough decision. The depth with which you understand your kids inspires me, and I hope you’ll still trust your great instincts about their best interests. I can only hope to do as well by my daughter!
Also, get that damn entry off his permanent record…. it’ll be a giant pain in the ass come college application time. It really will be worth to not have to deal with explaining it on multiple applications and to multiple people.
My knowledge of the system is vast, but from a textbook approach. I have done some school board work and my sister is a special ed teacher, but I don’t have kids, so I am missing that experience. Personally, I believe in public schools for the “average” and “normal” child. Children in special situations need special help that many public school are just not equipped to handle – even with IEP.
Best of luck to Monkey and the whole family. It just isn’t fair that any child has to deal with those problems. (And I hope you aren’t offended by my use of “normal”. I don’t mean it in an offensive way.)
Yeah keep loving on him. I think you were doing your best but man that sucks horribly!
Sorry to hear about the bus troubles. Please don’t beat yourself up about the decisions you made. As mothers I think we all think about things that we could have handled differently. Just keep giving him all the love and try to not dwell in the past. I had a counselor once ask me if all my worrying helped..he referred to it as vodoo magic. He said it certainly didn’t help my situation that I just gave myself more grief with all the worrying.
You have absolutely done the right thing. Holy crap, I’m shaking just from reading your account. (The parent of local kids once told my kid to shut up and I went OFF on him. I think you’re handling it better than I did….)
I’m having a really similar situation with my son on the bus. He’s about the same age as Monkey and has similar…I like the term “behavioral quirks.” My daughter is about Chickadee’s age but still rides with him even though she’s in middle school now, so things haven’t gotten completely out of hand yet, but there is much stress and abuse going on there. Some of the kids torment my boy simply because once he gets good and riled it’s like watching a Donald Duck cartoon. Like Monkey, it’s feeling unsafe that usually triggers his asplosive moments, and he feels VERY unsafe on the bus. We’re slightly luckier in that our bus driver is apathetic rather than hostile…and he seems to be paying closer attention since a boy (not mine) was seriously injured by being KICKED IN THE HEAD by another boy during the bus ride home a few weeks ago.
I think you made the right choice for Monkey. If things start to get really bad again I might make the same choice for my Luke. How crazy is it that our kids aren’t safe on a freaking school bus?
Mir, I homeschooled my kids for 9 years, then put them in public school three years ago. While the school experience has been fantastic, until they get to high school the bus experience is horrific. We’re working on some character issues with the 12 year old, so he still rides, but I’m seriously considering picking up (the bus is quiet in the morning, as most kids aren’t really awake). Mean people abound on buses – kids and driver alike. You did right by Monkey.
If you do homeschool, I know you’re fully capable. And you may only need to do that for a year or two, till he’s old and strong enough to handle himself better.
Some people (bus driver) should just not work with children. And really it has little to do with race it has more to do with a person’s moral fiber. There is little monitoring of these drivers. There is a right way and a wrong way to speak to people of any age, and shut up is NEVER okay!
No one is saying anything that I don’t want to say: You are right. You are doing the right thing. You are a great parent.
Monkey will have many tough situations in life, just as any child does regardless of abilities and specialness. Making him ride the bus just to learn how to do it became unnecessary when you had to worry about his safety with another adult who isn’t worried about his safety. You are making the choice to keep your child safe. It’s the right choice any mature parent would make. (Note I said mature, some parents would consider picking their child up WAY too much of an imposition on their own self centered life!)Don’t question what you know is right, Monkey needed your help, and that’s your job. Which, by the way, you do brilliantly!
I am so sorry. You ARE doing the best that you can, and please don’t beat yourself up about it!
You are doing the right thing. I’ve heard too many horror stories about the things hear on school buses to ever believe otherwise. The only reason my 6-year-old daughter rides the bus right now is because 1. her school is only kindergarten and first graders and 2. the buses are driven by teacher assistants, and I’ve known my daughter’s bus driver for years. When she’s old enough to go to the 2-5th grade school, she won’t be able to ride the bus because we live too close. When she goes to middle school, there’s no way in hell I’ll let her ride. That’s why I work from home, to be available when the kids need me. You’re doing a great job, Mir.
Or, you could look at it this way (although I’m sure you’ve tried every perspective on for size): You taught Monkey that sometimes you have to try to make things work just to say that you did. You taught him that you can’t give in right away just because it might be easier (not that it’s easy, just easiER). And that with some issues, you need to keep trying on solutions until you find one you can manage. (Goodness, I wish all of you didn’t know that last lesson so well.) Kids are pretty fabulous: they pick up on the fact that their parents are always trying even if they don’t get it right the first time around. It’s why they love us so much.
Everybody said this already but: don’t feel bad. You had a completely legitimate reason for having Monkey stick it out as long as he did. He does have to learn to deal with the real world, but you both had to figure out that this bus was much more obnoxious than the real world, and could not be controlled, and needed to be escaped.
Mir, for God’s sake you can’t blame yourself for absolutely having the right ideas about his need to learn to “deal”. It just didn’t work out due to circumstances you had no control over, so you’ve lived and learned as we all do. Now you have more information and you are moving forward. Buses are a social nightmare for half the population, including for the bus drivers! I think it’s worth your sanity to cut that out of the equation by taking him back and forth.
You aren’t asking for my opinion on home schooling, and I’m no expert on anything. But can I tell you that, I think it will be very taxing on your relationship with Monkey… sort of a “too much togetherness” thing, and he will be missing out on alot of interaction with peers… which will give him skills he will need as an adult, especially with an Aspergers diagnosis. Perhaps a different school would be better equipped or have more knowledge of the tools and environment Monkey will need to suceed. Is there a proffesional you can talk to about all of this who knows your community school system and the local options well?
Just my opinion, and I hope it doesn’t offend.
Sheesh, you made me cry with that last sentence.
I don’t have any kids, but I think I would have done the same thing in trying to help Monkey learn to deal.
You are such a great mother, and you do so much to help them become the best people they can be. I hate to see you beating yourself up over any decisions you have made regarding them.
Four sons. Four diagnoses. Four IEP’s. Believe me I feel your pain, but you tried it and it didn’t work so you removed him from the situation. Sometimes that is all you can do. And teaching him to try is much more valuable than learning to ride a bus. After all, once he is an adult bus riding will be optional. Love to you and Monkey.
What kinds of responses to your email did you get?
And before I go on, let me stipulate that ABSOLUTELY, she does not get to talk like that to your child. And you should be livid. At her, though. Not at yourself.
I’d also caution you to put this in perspective. There actually are reasons to ride the bus, and while they outweighed the reasons not to, it was fine to put him on it every day. Now your internal scale has tipped, and you’ve pulled him off. That same internal scale will tell you when to pull him from school entirely. And that’s the way it’s supposed to work. It’s OK. It really is OK.
Finally…I know that this made YOU feel homicidal, but look at it from Monkey’s POV. My guess is that, while her treatment of him overall has made him feel ‘less than,’ her telling him to shut up in and of itself didn’t really traumatize him in any long-term way. (If it did, then ignore me.) And you’ve dealt with it. So, now, he doesn’t have to ride the bus anymore. He’s probably just way more relieved than he is damaged. It’s OK. It really is OK.
So, to sum up: You’ve done fine. You need to stop beating yourself up. It’s OK. It really is OK.
My husband is currently working as a ‘car cleaner’ of school buses. Last night he told me that he’d picked up an empty Jose Cuervo bottle off the floor. Bus driver or student???!!!
I have to say that THIS: “…he will be missing out on alot of interaction with peers…” should absolutely NEVER be a reason NOT to homeschool. Just ask any mom who homeschools. (I’m going to stop my rant right there!)
I’m amazed at how much your story made my blood boil for Monkey! I’m glad you didn’t go out and strangle the bus driver. It would be hard to blog from jail. :)
I feel for you. Agonizing over what is right for our kids has got to be one of the toughest challenges of parenting. I just wanted to offer a flip side of homeschooling. I know it doesn’t work for everyone. Every child and family is different. When we were having trouble at school my final thought was to try the rest of the year at home. I figured that I could only mess up so much in one semester. Now I only wonder why we didn’t do it earlier.
Breathe deeply, you are doing a great job!
My mentally disabled daughter sat in the seat behind the driver because she has a seizure disorder. As punishment, the bus driver would make children sit beside her. This gem of information was passed on to me by one of my neighbor kids. I will NEVER forget it, forgiveness is probably out of the question too.
I feel for both you and Monkey, what a trial. I have never understood why there is only a driver on school buses, there should be a driver and an assistant of some kind. How can a driver look forward and drive safely and look back and keep mean kids in line. Monkey is very lucky you can arrange to take him both ways.
I voluntarily walked 2 miles each way to high school in order to NOT ride the bus. Except on those rare days when my mom drove us . . . in her house coat!
Now I take the bus to and from work. There are days when I walk home 3 miles because I just can’t get on the bus with weird or stinky or drunk people or the bus is packed with too many people, like now during the Olympics.
To home school or not to home school, totally your choice. And I know you will know the right time to make that choice.
I am more of a reader than a responder but felt I had to write today. I really feel for you and as a parent of kids that went through some sort of crisis during these years it is not easy. We always want to do the right thing for our children and ultimately we end up doing what feels right in our heart. We also pulled our children from the bus and drove them both ways. Stay strong and whatever you chose to do with Monkey whether home school or send back will be the right decision for you.
As Pam says breathe deeply – – you are a fantastic Mom
Big hugs to you and Monkey. I’d love to rant, but shall refrain. So, just hugs. Big, big hugs. (And possibly mentally sending you cookies and ice cream :P )
Oh man, that whole story makes me want to wrap you and Monkey both up in cozy feetie pajamas, feed you hot chocolate and take you to Disney World (and for Chickie, an award for best sister ever).
I agree with Gaylin, so many schools now have security and those schools are full of grownups. You trap 50 or more kids on a bus with one otherwise engaged adult and let them run amok? Why?
What I would like to imagine Monkey got from all of this is that sometimes you have to stick out a bad situation, sometimes adults behave badly, there is a point at which sticking it out is no longer worth the lesson and above all, no matter what, his mom will be there to fight the good fight, take on the bullies (you know, the ones that Chickie missed or are too old to be dealt with by children), figure out the next best course of action and take it. If only all children had that, maybe there wouldn’t BE so many bullies.
I’m so sorry — I know your feelings of guilt are your own and nothing any of us can say can really, truly help with that, but perhaps I can offer a different perspective. I was on Monkey’s end of treatment like that, and like you, when my mom figured out that it actually *was* that the (in this case) teacher was a horrible human being and also was on record as admittedly not liking children, she was horrified and guilt-stricken that she had ever doubted my tales of despair. I think it’s hard as a mostly rational adult to conceive of other adults acting in such an immature, petty and possibly damaging manner *towards* the *actual children* who are in their care and who, one would think, it is their chosen profession to protect and nurture.
At any rate, while I do still remember the dread I felt walking into that classroom every day, I also know that my mom loved me and fought on my behalf and never would have willingly subjected me to actual hardship in the name of character-building. Even though that was a hard time, that truth was never really in doubt — certainly as we grew away from the situation itself.
So, um, I know that wasn’t really the point of today’s post, but I guess as someone who was once on the receiving end of a similar situation, I just wanted to let you know that sometimes there’s also validation in seeing the heights of rage to which one’s parents can be moved on one’s behalf.
You have probably gotten all the advice you really want or don’t want.
I just wanted to throw my 2 cents out there. I have a friend whose son has been picked on quite a bit. He has an IEP, is very smart, but still the target.
Around this same age is when my friend finally pulled him out and homeschooled him and it was the best thing for him. She watched him grow and flurish.
They have since moved and he is now back in public school, but that homeschool was a special time for them.
I know it wasn’t easy for them. But I just wanted you to know that it could be the best time for you both.
I predict that one day both of your children will read this blog, and this entry will be the one to make them weep. How lucky they are to have you, and to have this record of just how fiercely you love them.
I think it’s ok to be tired and not want to pursue something you know you could and probably should but just are too tired to deal with. Let someone else fight that battle if need be.
After reading many of the comments, I feel much better about pulling my son from the bus ride home last month. He is a “normal” kid and it was hard for him. I struggled with whether or not I should make him stick it out for all the reasons you mention.
Try not to beat up yourself too much. It’s hard to know what the right thing is to do most of the time so we just muddle our way through and make deposits in the therapy fund.
Sorry man. I think you did the right thing at the time with the knowledge you had and you kept going until you knew you needed to change direction. At least you recognize when you need to change direction and act on it. That’s what a good mom does.
My daughter has Aspergers, and we have wrestled with the same issue your post addresses: the balance between learning to face and cope with things that are hard, versus keeping her happy and safe. We are, also, diehard public school supporters. So I understand the difficulty of always assessing what your child needs and can handle, fighting with school people who should be there to help your child, and focusing your attention on your child’s well-being instead of wrestling with school personnel about what they are required to provide. We are now home-schooling (actually, “unschooling,” really) and life is better for all of us. It sounds like you are doing all of the right things — supporting your son and sticking up for him, and keeping him safe. Good for you for taking good care of your son and for letting the school people know that they are failing your child.
Love and prayers from NYC.
Sorry To hear about the trouble Mir, but dont beat yourself up over it! You did what you thought was right…..I think bus drivers in general can be real assholes…I rode the bus for 6 months my sophmore yr of school and ours was a real piece of work,would pull over and yell at us…granted we we all lived within 4 miles of the school…us kids couldnt have been that bad.
I am too struggling with the school and my 5th grader….im one of those parents this year….and am trying to decide on doing an IEP for her or not for her spina bifida(she is high functioning)The teachers have done nothing to help her succeed and allowed everything about her to fail…she is a gifted kid who gets high marks on the state testing,but is on meds that space her out and the grades are now starting to suffer…instead of making sure she brings her work home with her,they tell me it is her problem not theirs and that they arent able to be held accountable…BS is what i say..
Now my baby has to have back surgery in 2 weeks and I have requested that we get her work for the following 6 days via email and have still not recieved a response back…
Gonna have to make some phone calls again
My daughter is only 3 years old and already the bus discusion has come up. I personally am not in favor of school buses even though growing up I knew some great bus drivers. However through those associations – I also knew which ones were not great or even passable. In today’s society there are developmental steps that you want to be inf charge of – not someone on the bus. There are many people who work with kids who should not be allowed near them. You were right to try and make it work and you were right to walk away – because there are some adults that are beyond fixing. They need to be fixed – Monkey is fine.
Now because I am a mean person when it comes to my child – I would make the school district work up a solution however I also know many people who have moved outside your school system because of its issues.
Is there an affordable private option or does the university have any programs?
Good Luck and you are a great parent.
I rarely comment–only when truly moved by a post. My 14 year old son has Aspergers. We have been to hell and back, with things getting very, very bad when he went through puberty. We are in such an incredibly good place now that he is a freshman in high school. I never let him ride the bus, and he is better for missing that nightmare. He takes a city bus to school now. You are doing the right thing. Your parenting will always be a delicate balance between protecting him and arming him with the skills to succeed as an adult. My son and I see a therapist every two weeks together, and it has helped immensely. If you ever want to hear our story in detail, feel free to email me. We went from about as low as you could go to a very good place indeed. I don’t believe our story will provide anyone else with all the answers in their own life–every parent and child is unique. But I’ve made some huge mistakes and some great calls and would be happy to talk to you anytime.
No advice, just love and hugs. I’m sorry for both you and Monkey.
Well, now that I think about it maybe a little advice. Go easy on the “mommy guilt”. Don’t forget you have to make it last all your life! ;-p Ok, that was lame. Back to no advice.
Just hugs and love.
Oh Mir, hugs to you and Monkey. That’s all – just hugs.
Public School is tough. I feel for Monkey, I do. But don’t beat yourself up – you’re not perfect and we all make mistakes. What matters most is you care and try your hardest. The most you can do.
I know you’ve made your decision already, but – don’t your buses have video cameras? Our elementary school principal often reviews tapes to determine exact fault.
My friend was paid for driving her sons to school when they couldn’t provide safe transportation. You should send your school district a bill!
My heart aches for both of you. I’m so sorry. The one thing I’ve learned is to listen to the little voice inside you–usually you can’t go wrong. (((Hugs)))
Sorry the people who should be supporting you have let you down. That really stinks and is not acceptable.
We had some of the same issues (with a kid who sounds a lot like Monkey), down to the mark on the permanent record for instigating a fight with a kid twice his size, and down to the bus driver claiming he did stuff that no one else agrees he did. And I eventually caved and have driven him to and from school since, with the same guilt over how long I left him on the bus, and the same worry that I should make him tough it out.
Middle school is starting soon, and I’m facing the same worries all over again.
I am normally a lurker, and I hate to comment with anything besides support, but I feel I must say these two things. 1. Monkey’s “permanent record” from ELEMENTARY school will not follow him for the rest of his life. It won’t even be an issue when he is applying for colleges. For heaven’s sake, don’t stress about that one. And 2. I think race could have been left out of this one. And before you think this is some sort of “race solidarity” issue, I’ll let you know that I’m white. And I’m also a little concerned that you think this woman’s douchey-ness has anything to do with her skin color, or the skin color of another child. Be the change you wish to see, and don’t let your race become an excuse to play the victim, please. Some people, like this bus driver, are just assholes. They come in every color and shape. Ok, I’m done.
I think I know how you feel. I still feel guilt about giving up and pulling my son out of public school. But we couldn’t even get an IEP (even though the district’s own testers acknowledged my child had serious sensory and fine motor issues that would make the classroom challenging for him). And it wasn’t a bus driver that was mistreating my kid – it was his TEACHER. The person he was with all day. (His bus driver was actually really nice.)
Public schools are great institutions in theory, and sometimes, in the best places, in practice, but many of them need a lot of help. And though I have always felt in the past that parents like me should try to make schools better instead of fleeing them at the first sign of trouble, I discovered that when it came to putting my own child’s wellbeing on the line in an attempt to effect some social change, well, I can’t do it. I just can’t. He is too precious to me.
If protecting my child with special needs from a school that refuses to accommodate those needs makes me look like a privileged hypocrite, so be it.
Don’t feel bad about the bus. About pushing him to be on it, or taking him off. You are doing the best you can. It’s a shame you don’t have more help from the people who are supposedly being paid to help you.
I never rode the bus, and I came out perfectly fine. My kids don’t ride a bus either. I drive 20 minutes both ways. It’s inconvenient for me, but I’m so used to it, it never crosses my mind that there are alternatives.
I am not a believer in public schools because of stories just like these. I am so sorry for you and Monkey. There are many ways to raise an educated, well adjusted child, Mir. You will find your way.
I just took an OT course about school based practice. One of the anecdotes the speaker(a therapist in the NYC shcools) gave was about a school that sent out behaviorists on the buses to determine what it was like for special needs kids to ride the buses. The behaviorists reported that it was amazing that any of the children could function at school after riding a bus in the morning. The noise factor alone put many of the kids on overload and that is only one of the senses affected. Take heart and don’t feel guilty.
When my daughter was six she told me about a boy on the bus who described a scene to her that sounded like a rape scene. He was also six. We live in a “nice” suburban town. When she was eight the older boys tried to look up her skirt. When she was older another younger girl hit her but because she was smaller my daughter did not hit back. That was the last straw. I took her off of the bus and drove her and her brother from then on. Now, my daughter is expecting her first child and just sent me your e-mail….again because she admires you so much and knows about the challenges of special needs children because I am an OT. You made a good decision. Hang in there.
My “special” (read Asperger’s) one has never ridden the bus. Mostly because I remember “THE BUS” and also because our neighborhood does not have a bus service unless you request the Special Bus. Which we didn’t.
I have felt the rage you feel about the bus driver. The small, uneducated, mean-minded populace who don’t “get” my kid. I gained 50 pounds and a real attitude.
The attitude has gotten better (don’t ask me about the weight) but I think you should read the bus driver’s attitude about Monkey as what he will face in “The Real World.”
I’ve been working very hard on those aspects of Asperger’s that make them socially different or difficult (it’s like climbing uphill with cement booties on) and you just can never let up. What’s amazing is that they can memorize and learn like crazy, so if you get their interest, you can really teach them what they need to know. The sad thing is you have to teach them things that seem *obvious* to the rest of us.
Still working on this….
Bus situation sucks for us too. Mean kids, bus drivers who don’t care (AND LIE!!!!), and other kids who sit by and let it all happen.
The school itself has been good and accomodating, but it still is what it is.
I’m watching the Temple Grandin movie as I read your post. I’m sorry. As a person with a MA in multiple disabilities ed., I still can’t believe that kids are treated this way. A friend is having some problems with her kid too. After all these years, it just shouldn’t happen this way any more.
I just wrote a really long reply but it was all about my son..and since every situation is completely unique..well..I just want to say YOU Know monkey best…do what you know is right for him, in the end it will be well worth it.
Mother to 4, VERY reluctant homeschooler of 2 (its a LONG LONG story)
It isn’t every day your blog causes me to read a dictionary.
So – walking helps with balance issues? hmph. I didn’t know that.
I have officially learned something today. Now if I had just read this earlier today I could’ve gone home.
It’s rotten feeling you’ve failed your child, I don’t any parent who cares who hasn’t felt that way at some time or another. Maybe it’s just too soon for him to be in an environment like that. In any case – kids are resilient, this won’t have any permanent effect on him – he who lives for the moment. You shouldn’t fault yourself. The bus driver bears considerable guilt here, she clearly isn’t able to keep the kids on her bus in line, and I bet she has no clue about Monkey’s needs or how to address them.
Bottom line – look at it this way: you will be walking twice as much as before, and therefore lose twice the weight twice as fast AND have a happier, more vestibularly regulated child.
I’ve been reading you for years, and I more than anyone knows what you are going through. My son is disabled and has an IEP also. You are doing the right thing for your son. I honestly feel that you should call for that driver being removed from your son’s bus route.
It has nothing to do with a possible racist issue. It has everything to do with the fact that she should not be allowed to transport a child with a disability as she is clearly incapable of dealing with such issues. And while it’s not necessarily her fault, she is tasked with taking care of your child, and she is clearly not up to it.
I assume that your district is the same where I live in that the district is responsible for your child’s safety from the time they leave home in the morning til they walk through the door in the evening. Here the bus folks are actually through a contract, so the drivers don’t necessarily have the training to care for kids with issue that may be on their buses. This is not cool in a major way.
I am taking steps to sue the district where I live due to IEP issues that they are not following through on. My son is in a wheelchair and the district’s transportation office tends to do little things like “forget” to have him picked up on a wheelchair bus. It had even gotten to the point where I had a meeting with the transportation office and was asked where did they get the money for that (Hello! you are publicly funded its an ADA and title 504 mandate! Not my issue)
It’s great that the school is doing what they can to help your son with his issues, but sometimes you have to go with your gut and tell them what is and isn’t acceptable to you. They can have him on a door to door bus even if he is capable of walking on his own. They do tend to be smaller buses with less kids on them. I have found that my daughter who is older than my son has more issues on the big bus and those bratty kids than my son does on the smaller wheelchair bus.
Another thing to consider is that a private school won’t necessarily be a better environment for your son. I hate to say it, but most of the private schools out there aren’t geared toward special needs kids. They tend to shunt parents toward the public schools because the public schools get monies from the federal government to give extra support to kids with special needs. When I say special needs, I am including all kids with some sort of issue, whether they be wheelchair bound, or have other issues such as Aspberger’s, down’s syndrome etc. I know some Aspie folks, and a lot of them had what I guess you would consider behavioral therapy as kids to help them learn social skills. I don’t know if your son is getting this sort of help or not, but it is something to look into if he isn’t getting it.
Anyway, I have rambled and hijacked your blog enough. (I do get wordy when I have a hot button pushed) Hang in there mom. Just do what you can do, and don’t worry about putting up a fight. Monkey deserves it (And so does Chickie too) Being a parent can be tough at times. But, ya gotta do what ya gotta do.
No one failed in this situation except for the bus driver and the officials (school, bus company, and otherwise) who should be addressing her failure. You do what you feel in your heart is the right thing to do at this moment and let the rest flow as it will. I bet any amount of money that Monkey knows exactly whose side you are on, any time of the day.
Also, if I lived closer, I’d take care of that bus driver for you. And by “take care of” I mean do Very Bad Things.
Monkey lives in the present, the incident will fade and he will forget about the horrid bus driver. You did the right thing to have him try to ride it, and the right thing in pulling him off. Enough is enough. Go Mama Bear.
GOOD JOB MIR. BATTLE WELL FOUGHT. Remember, you are not supposed to get it right all the time. And when you don’t, you grow. Maybe you and Monkey can talk about this being a great example of a life hurdle, and that he prepare himself for the next time- because you are right about that too. Your objective is clearly to help him prepare and be ready for the day when you are not there to keep him safe. You are a beautiful family, and I’m sorry Monkey was mistreated. She bullied him.
One more though- can you file a written report regarding the driver for no other reason than to assist future parents that have a similar experience? Single, isolated incidents (one family), can rarely justify severe action. But a pattern, and history of incident…………. (Being a writing rock-star is a +plus+)
I just can’t help thinking there are 2 sides to every story. That bus driver is charged with getting children safely from point A to points B, C, D, E,… And honestly — is it reasonable for them to dig down to each story? Monkey’s behavior was impacting the bus drivers ability to concentrate on her driving and safely transport all the children.
The distraction of fighting children has to be greater than texting — and we all know that is wrong.
So everyone wins when you take the responsibility to get your child to and from school. Harsh? Hopefully not when you think about the bigger picture.
This from a mom who transported her children to and from all their years in public education — and the ride was a minimum 20 minutes from our home to the school.
Parenting, it takes time and energy. Even when we’re busy.
Thinking warm, fuzzy, supportive thoughts for you and Monkey!
This breaks my heart.I think you did the right thing, the hard thing though. A few years ago my son(who has special needs) had a teacher who was so awful to him and I fought tooth and nail for changes. The changes happened and now I have a reputation in the school as that mother, you know the one. I don’t give a flying f**k. It does get very tiring and my thoughts and prayers go out to you all dealing with this situation. Best wishes.
I’m just glad that with Monkey’s disposition, and you making sure he’s no longer on that bus, he may be able to put it behind him. As opposed to my negative, wet-blanket self who is still having bus-nightmares on the wrong side of my 40s!
Crossing my fingers for you guys. (:-)
My son has some of these same problems on the bus. Last year he had a bus driver that yelled at all the kids “What the F*ck is wrong with all of you?” Yeah, she did! Her excuse is that the kids were all very bad and she had never written them up, but she would start to now. No punishment for her at all!! And I understand when the curse words come out when you are at your wits end, but that is why I do not work with children on a daily basis!!
My best friend had some issue with the public school not providing the education her children needed, they are home schooled now and much better for it!!
Go mama bear!!! You make the best decision yous can for your kid. Some are hard, sometimes you look back and say, “That didn’t work.” Hindsight is 20/20. You love your kid & he knows it & the school knows it & we know it.
As far as I am concerned, school buses are the opening to the portal of HELL. They are loud, the kids are not supervised and they are chaotic. After two years of bus problems (I live five minutes from the school, we could have walked or ridden bikes the whole time) I finally pulled him off the bus when the bus aide called him a baby, told him to shut up and basically picked on him every day. She was reported but is still on the bus. I won’t put him on there as long as she is there.
And guess what? He’s calmer when he arrives at school. He’s calmer when he arrives home. He is sooooo much happier. That anxiety he had over riding the bus? POOF! GONE!
Look, my kid is no angel, I know that. But they just don’t get paid enough and they don’t have child-management training. And then you stick a kid like mine on teh bus (PDDNOS/Aspergers, ADHD, Major sensory issues) and it just intensifies the situation.
We’re all much happier now.
But my other son? Severely, non-verbal autistic who rides 1.5 hours to school and LOVES EVERY MINUTE. GO figure.
Oh man. I am so, so sorry that you and Monkey had to deal with that. What a wretched woman. It’s got to be so hard to know where to draw that line — where to insist, where to think maybe it’s okay, where to realize that no, it’s really not. I think you did great. And I *know* that you, and Monkey, will be just fine.
I know…a day late and a dollar short but here’s my 2 cents worth. Life is full of lessons and you just taught your son the most valuable one of all. Give people the benefit of the doubt until the picture is crystal clear and then…just turn the other cheek. Fussing and fighting NEVER solves anything…never.
I’m so sorry. That sucks.
Why don’t you write her up??? If not for the satisfaction of it then for the pure good of saving someone else’s child a miserable experience. I would file a formal complaint for each unprofessional interaction that she had with you/Monkey and let them accumulate on her record. That is the only way to achieve anything in a unionized society (which public school bus systems usually are).
I just wanted to add my “you are doing the right thing here” as well. My child had serious bus-riding issues from K through 2nd grade…to the point where he was suspended from the bus for 10 days because he just could not STAY SEATED. Since I knew the next suspension would get him kicked off the bus for the rest of the year, I decided it wasn’t worth MY stress to worry each day if it would be the day he’d get another writeup for not staying in his seat…so I just changed my schedule and transported him myself for the rest of the year. Yeah, it sucked but I just knew it was better for both of us that way…and I couldn’t blame the bus driver or another child…just my own child’s lack of ability to stay seated and follow rules! I do have to say that one thing we do have here on our buses that may be helping our situation now is they all have video cameras that record activity on the bus. The video is accessible for I think up to 3 days. I know it’s not in your power to do anything about it, but it’s certainly something I wonder if the school systems down there have considered. We are not in a high income area at all…far from it…with many kids in our area household below the poverty line. I am certainly thankful that if anything like this happened on one of our county public school buses we have that video available.
Hugs to you Mir for dealing with what I know was a very tough situation.
Hang in there, Mir. I can’t personally say I’ve been in your shoes, but as parents we’re always second-guessing our decisions. Following your gut is always best.
And for those who are quick to jump on her “racist” comments, no matter how colorblind you try to be, it does happen. I never experienced it when I grew up in CO, but I have since moving to the South. In some people down here, black or white, there is a definite chip on their shoulder in regards to the other race. You are always taking a chance if you have any issues with someone of another race, because the automatic reaction is to circle the wagons and protect each other. I’ve seen it in action. I don’t know if that’s the case here, but I trust Mir’s judgement of the situation.
I grew up hating the bus. Absolutely hating it and I was constantly picked on. There was even a kid who shoved me in front of the bus as it stopped at our bus stop one morning. Needless to say, I will be driving my kids to school. I refuse to make them deal with what I had to because I know how horrible other kids can be to each other when they’re packed like sardines in a small space.
I also would like to punch that bus driver for you. Just sayin’. You’re doing a great job and I completely understand the guilt but you can never know exactly what is involved in a situation. I would listen closer if they continuously ask to not have to do something such as riding the bus because there may be more going on than you know. Was there any particular kid in general that you would see Monkey avoid because that could have played a factor also?
Although I do not have children I think you should do whatever it takes to keep your child safe, confident and happy and if that means pulling him from the bus and/or home-schooling him, then so be it. I applaud you, I’d shake your hand if I saw you and if we were friends I’d give you a hug.
You just made me thrilled we live in a walking district and I don’t have to struggle with this issue for 5 more years. I’m all about postponing issues.
After years of debating with family, friends and husband, I decided to jerk my son out of public school and homeschool him. This was the hardest decision of my life. I would be the cause of his failure–as I was informed by public school. I had to jump through hoops to be able to homeschool my son. I would have done it 100 times over, My son needed the kindness and Motherly structure to learn. I realized I was doing the teaching all along at home with homework. My son needed someone who knew that loud sounds distracted him, that he needed a cheerleader not a failure meter. Be assured you will hit a wall some daysâ€”thatâ€™s OK! My son made the choice to go back to school in 9th grade, he has done wonderfully, he has the confidence and self awareness to handle it now. I think now how hard it was to decide to homeschool, I am so glad that I did it! My son will graduate this year with his IEP, he is driving (ADD child driving OMG), he has a girlfriend, he is receiving his Eagle Scout Rank in Boy Scouts this month, my point is go with your gut, you know him better than anyone, you are his best cheerleader!
I feel for you. I am just now catching up reading this because I am dealing with my own situation with my daughter. It is so frustrating to know that people are not acting in the best interest of my baby (said in a dramatic way because she is almost 10 and not really a baby except in my heart). I do want her to grow up and be able to handle things herself so I hesitate to intrude but when it comes to making her feel safe, I am all over it. How can she possibly grow into a fully functioning adult one day if she doesn’t feel safe enough to do so. I am totally with you on that fine line, and the guessing what things to make them stick out, and what to just help them with.
Good luck! Hopefully we will all get through this.
A story from a different age. In 6th grade, I was picked on by the teacher (a nun.) She was not content until she made me cry, every day, although I tried very hard not to. I did not think to complain – I had been taught to believe that everything was my fault, since my mother also picked on me! Here is the point of this story: eventually, the other children went home and told their parents what was going on. The other parents went to my mother, who went to the convent and had it out with that teacher. I have never forgotten that my mother went into battle for me, even if just that once. Parents don’t have to be always right or perfect to earn the gratitude of their children.
My Aspie rode the special short bus when he went to a b&m school. You should be able to get transportation in Monkey’s IEP and have them send a little bus out to your house to pick him up and drop him off.
That said, I feel your pain. I got fed up and enrolled my son in an online charter school, best decision I ever made. Because while I agree that kids — especially our Aspies — need to learn to deal with certain situations and certain people, unless my kid is going to grow up to be a middle school teacher, he really doesn’t need to learn how to deal with middle school kids. So we’re skipping it… and getting a better education, too.
I know that fine line you speak of. I know that based on your blogposts you are a wonderful mother and will make the right choices for your Monkey!
I did want to encourage you in one thing though. I have home schooled my Aspie since the beginning. He will graduate next year, and will head off to college.. you know, getting closer to the “real world” every day. But here’s the thing I wanted you know about homeschooling. Besides being closer to the “real world” than a traditional school setting can ever be, our homeschool centered on his strengths and never his weaknesses. He never felt less than normal.. He did however feel extra ordinary. Sure, other kids did things differently than him, and learned in different ways.. but that didn’t make his way wrong or defective. Just different. And different is good. He has been able to see where his talents are and what his “aspieness” allows him to do that is valuable for his future. It has never been about remediation him to make him more normal.. but rather a celebration of all he has to offer!
When he heads to college, he will be “dealing” with that “real world” but here’s the difference. He will be entering it with the tools already in place to deal with it. He is mature and confident and knows himself. He is not a scared child anymore.
His socialization skills came from gently learning them from those that have already acquired them… they don’t have to come through battle scars.
For some, teaching them to swim by tossing them in the deep end of the pool only serves to make them afraid of the water.
I think you will make a terrific homeschooler. I also think you will make (and are) a terrific public school mom, forcing the school to be accountable and live up to what Monkey (and Chickadee for that matter) deserve.
I know you have friends, like Kira, that homeschool so you probably have all your questions answered but if you ever have a question about homeschooling those who learn differently, I’d be happy to tell you all I’ve learned in the trenches.
And shame on that bus driver! But good on you putting an end to it!
I know I am late to the party, but I feel that I have to comment. I am currently a public school teacher, and I spent the first decade of my career as a special ed. teacher in public education. So, for what it is worth, here is my 2 cents:
1. I think you should file a formal complaint with the district about that bus driver. If the incident is going on Monkey’s record, it should also go on hers.
2. Elementary school “permanent” records are a joke. The incident won’t follow him beyond elem. school. Same with elem. grades
3. This comment (above) REALLY set me off: “Hello! you are publicly funded its an ADA and title 504 mandate! Not my issue” For the record, several of those ADA and 504 mandates are federal and state UNFUNDED mandates. Since the introduction of Public Law 94-142 (Special ed. law) in the late 1970’s, the federal govt. has only paid 11% of it’s “promised” money to special ed. Each state varies, but most of the the time, the financial burden falls to the individual districts. So yes commenter above, it IS your issue.
4. I know your instincts as a mother will guide you and Monkey in the right direction. Good luck
As someone who had a bad bus experience as a kid- the kids were mean, though not overtly, and the bus driver’s preferred method of dealing with us was to pull the bus over, stand up, turn off the camera that was recording what happened on the bus, yell at us, then turn the camera back on and get back to driving- I am so glad that my mom made the decision to drive me instead of making me take the bus. School is stressful enough for most kids as it is, there’s no need to make a kid scared of the ride to and from school.
Mir, Monkey is so lucky to have you for a mama. My ex has Asperger’s and all his parents ever told him was that that was just how life was, and that he just needed to deal. You are such an awesome advocate for your kids.
I think things would be a whole lot harder for you and Monkey if you changed your base assumption about things to something more pessimistic. Right now you assume things will work out in the end. And most of the time they do. And is sure does suck when they don’t. Hang in there, you’re doing a great job!
Oh Mir, My heart breaks for you. Your story and Monkey’s is so much like my own. I feel like so lose Mom so often even though my son is now almost 21. All I can say is do what you have to do to protect him and give him what he needs now because before too long (and it’s fast approaching) you want be able to. Big hugs Mir. I know how much you need them.
I agree with gaylin…I’m not sure why a bus driver is supposed to drive a bus AND manage the kids. I currently live in HK, and they have a driver who drives, and a bus mother who manages the children. The bus mother is always someone who works at the school as an Educational Assistant. This provides both the authority to do something, and also someone who is trained with children. I’ve hitched rides to school sometimes, and even with a (wonderful) bus mother, my daughter’s bus seems like pandemonium to me (and they’re good kids – they just get rambunctious when no one’s looking!). If there is no bus mother and a few nasty kids, it’s a recipe for disaster. There is no way a bus driver can manage a bus full of kids, no matter how good most of them are, or how nice the bus driver is. The school district should assign an adult to oversee the bus, especially as these are primary school children.