Thursday, October 4, 2007

Burst bubble

[N, putting, at the gorgeous-beyond-belief children's golf academy where he takes lessons]

I was doing my Thursday-in-the-first-grade-classroom activity--distributing the week's marked-up work into folders for each individual child--when I noticed that almost all of N's work from class, especially anything involving language arts, had a "with help" written on it. I decided it was probably time to ask the teacher for a sit-down, just to check in on how N is really doing. I've been buoyed by watching him really 'get stuff' when he does his homework, and by watching what seem to be his blossoming social skills in a variety of different social situations, like his golf class and at Hebrew school, etc., but I still wanted to check in to make sure this wasn't a real issue, and to maybe ask the teacher about how she thinks his speech is.

By the time I was done with my 'job', the class was outside having recess. As I approached, N came over from the bench where he was still working on his snack. All the other kids were on the playground. Suddenly, his teacher appeared:

"Mrs. Confused! Thanks for all your help today. I do have a favor to ask of you, though...N, would you please go clean up your snack so I can talk to Mommy?"

Uh-oh. "Yes?"

"Um, could you maybe work with N on getting him to join the other children to play during recess? This is my first time on yard duty this year, and I hadn't realized, but he doesn't play with the other kids. And when I ask him to go play, he sometimes refuses. I can insist he go out there, and I do, but then he just stands on the sidelines as a bystander, sucking his thumb, and..."

I hold up my hand. "Funny you should bring this up. I was coming out here to ask if we could set up a time..."

"...for a conference? Oh, good. I was hoping we would get to talk before the end of the first marking period."

"Yes. I was wanting to talk to you about his classwork, but also to get your input on some other things. For instance, I'm planning to take him to get a speech..."

"Oh, I've already asked several times for the speech therapist to do an assessment on him, and she says he's already on her list, but she hasn't gotten to him yet."

This was followed by a not-worth-recording conversation about how to make that happen more quickly, and another on how she (teacher) should not for a second think that I (mother) am not aware of any of these issues, etc. And then I left. And even though I was the one who was going out there to talk to HER...I felt totally deflated. I guess I was hoping that we would just talk about how he's having trouble following directions, but otherwise he's just fine! Totally normally! All the kids love him! Nothing to see here, you over-involved, worry-wart mom!

But, instead, I got: He has really obvious social issues. I got: I told the speech therapist I thought it was important for him to get help RIGHT AWAY! I got: I'm so glad you want to talk about this because I think it's important to work on these issues RIGHT AWAY! Time's a'wastin'! This kid isn't going to get any better just because you wish it away, you know! (OK. Maybe that last one wasn't so much verbatim, but it was clearly her point.)

What it really comes down to is that instead of, "Yeah, I see what you're saying, and you're right, but I hadn't really been thinking about it much because it's just not that big of a deal," I got, "I've clearly been thinking about this a lot, and acting on it, too, and I just wasn't sure yet how and when to bring it up to you, but it's big and it's obvious, and he may be looking better to you these days, but to me, meeting him for the first time, I see deficits, and they're glaring, and you really do need to do deal with them." And that's depressing.

I've been down this road a minimum of 76 times before, of course. Most of you have read it; most of you are doubtless tired of reading it and having it go nowhere. You know those times...where I get all het up to do xyz to help N, where I recognize that there's a problem, but then I start to see progress and start to wonder if I'm overreacting, only to have The World slap me in the face and say, "No! You're not overreacting! Progress does not mean over and done with. How many times do I have to tell you? GET HIM HELP." You'd think that by now...

Once the letter to the school district--the one I just finished writing--is received, they have two weeks to do the assessment. But (I know, I know) that likely won't be enough, so I'll get an outside SLP appointment set up, too. I was hoping to wait until after the likely-to-be-combined hernia-and-testicle surgery to do it, but that may not work out, since he still needs to be seen by a general surgeon before we can even schedule that. And that may take more time than, it turns out, I should let slip past. Already, it's been nearly 7 years...or, to be fair to myself, between 4 and 5 years since I first noticed a problem. Perhaps it's time to stop waiting for 'the right time.'

BTW, on a completely unrelated note, today is Baroy's birthday. 52. He's so OLD! But I love him anyway. Happy birthday, hubby mine.


Ambre said...

Actually, I have something even worse to break to you. Getting help doesn't mean the bubble bursting stops. Just when you think "Ah, I've got the answer!" your kid will come home with a freaking C- on a math test just because she made a zillion stupid mistakes.

Wait, what was that you said? This isn't about me? As if.

And anyway, my changing the subject is way better than my slapping you silly, which is what you expected right?

Tamar said...

I can completely understand the *ow* factor, having the teacher already so emphatic about wanting to get him help. But that's actually fantastic. It means she'll be right there alongside you, fighting to get what N needs. Which is something you've never had before, an ally in the system. And you really, really need that.

And I have to tell you, going in there every year to explain to the teachers that, yes, he looks normal and yes, he's a good kid, and yes, he's smart, sure, all that, but HE HAS PROBLEMS and YOU CAN'T ACT LIKE HE DOESN'T -- it gets old fast. I talk and talk and look at their faces and know they're just being polite and humoring the anxious mom and ugh. Just... ugh. (It's less so this year than before, but still somewhat true.) A teacher who sees what he needs and what she can do to help him? Worth her weight in gold.

(Also? What Ambre said is so true. Bubbles burst but then other bubbles, they form. And on it goes.)

kristen said...

Thank god for that teacher. And yes, it's hard, and it kinda sucks to own up to all of it, but thank god. Seriously.

Now go give the kid a hug. And maybe have a drink. And happy birthday Baroy. 52 is not old. My husband is 58, but he seems to think he's only 57. Don't ask.

Chris said...

Yeah- what Tamar said about "he looks good but he has problems" can be a tough fight. This is better. Can I offer some assvice? Have an outside person do the evaluation. Somehow the outside folks (whose school district won't have to pay more money for services) seems to diagnose problems more readily/completely.

Green said...

I'm not saying he doesn't have problems. At ALL. But. Please just tuck this away in the back of your head for later on: at some point please decide he's "good enough" and instead of trying to get him to change, get him to accept himself the way he is and learn to work around the parts of himself that don't work "normally".

My brother is a CPA and lawyer who is engaged, buying a house, has a dog, friends, fish, and is well liked and respected. My parents can still find fault with him. Just want you to realize the roads that exist so you won't take a bad one.

po said...

Progress, not perfection. I say that to myself every freaking day. And I still get totally and utterly blind-sided by the setbacks.

But progress is ALWAYS good. Hugs, and get that outside eval.