The School Called

Yesterday afternoon I woke up from my nap about half an hour before Tyler gets home from school. Grant was just sitting on the couch.  “You better sit down”, he said.  I didn’t get my disability, someone has died, are the thoughts running through my head.  “Tyler’s teacher called”, Grant said slowly.  She said that Tyler has been disruptive to the class, taking the form of him making explosive type noises and movements throughout the day, and not being able to stand in a line.  She said she was unable to tell if this was his OCD or Tourette’s as he was not being destructive towards others, it was all directed to himself.  She also said he was delayed in his fine and gross motor skills.  Grant said she was very nice and that she really liked Tyler.

“We meet with the school on Wednesday”, he told me.  I was in shock and I said, “For what?” “To see how we can help Tyler.”

I felt angry at the teacher.  We had been having problems with Tyler at home, mostly with anger, but when I met face to face with her two weeks ago on Back to School Night, she assured me that Tyler was doing well in school!  We had been so relieved.  To everyone who would ask I would say, “Knock on wood and thank God, there has been no trouble at school.”  We were thanking whatever lucky stars we had that Tyler seemed to be able to handle a “normal” education.  Just yesterday I had made an appointment with a child psychologist.

I told her, “Tyler is an angel about 90% of the time, the other 10% is a big problem.”

And now I feel like a walking zombie knowing that what I told her yesterday was not the truth.

I know my anger is misguided but I want to yell at the teacher, “How did you look at me two weeks ago and tell me there were no problems with my child?  Why did you let me think that??”

I realize that this teacher is one who has been teaching kindergarten for over 35 years and that her approach was to try to diffuse the situation herself, and her calling us yesterday was her saying “I cannot do this alone.”  But I can’t help feeling angry!  She let us think there were NO PROBLEMS at school with Tyler!  She allowed us to breathe false sighs of relief, to live in a state of ignorance!

Gross and fine motor skills??  Yes, I knew that Tyler was behind but I have been seeing improvements that she could never see, not knowing him for that long.  I see the way his writing has improved and how his artwork is getting better.  I watch him use the grownup scissors when we do his homework and am amazed at how well he cuts with them!  For godsakes, this is just kindergarten, and he has only turned five a month ago, just how advanced is he supposed to be??

Doesn’t she know how smart Tyler is?  All I have ever heard from teachers and ordinary people was that Tyler was an extremely smart child, a special person.  How funny he is? How empathic?  How strangers’ mouths drop open or how they laugh when they hear my son speak?

Where is that boy in all of this???

Grant and I had no time to grieve.  It was time to go to the bus stop.  We both want to shut down, or at the very least, call our friends and family, but we are up against a three day weekend and how are we going to talk about Tyler when he will be with us all weekend long?

I feel so thankful that I have this blog, this outlet for me.  Where I can get it out and let the tears fall as I write these words.

Last night we questioned Tyler about the explosive noises.  We gave him very little explanation and he knew exactly what we were talking about.  We stressed that we were not mad at him, for him to just tell us the truth.  “Tyler”, Grant asked, “Can you stop doing those things at school or do you feel you have to do them?”  “I can’t stop it.  I have to do it, daddy.”

Maybe this is strange but I felt a bit of relief at that statement.  Tyler is not being “bad”.  It is either a tic or his OCD.  We can help him, this is not a new diagnosis, he is not a “bad kid”.

A large part of me wants to scream at God Why?? Isn’t it enough that Grant and I are disabled? Why did you have to saddle my child with a whole other set of disabilities that for the most part are very different from our own?  How are we supposed to deal with this when we are already so taxed with our own sicknesses and the poverty and stress that come with them? How can you throw this at us too?

One thing we do have going for us is that Grant used to be a Consumer Advocate for children with disabilities, and we have that knowledge going into this meeting what the school is obligated to do for us.

Until then, and especially this weekend, I need to put this news behind me and concentrate as always on giving Tyler the unconditional love he needs and making my head rule my body as I must keep on going, keep on doing the normal weekend stuff and going forward with the plans we had this weekend, like going to our local farm’s annual Fall Festival.

There is nothing I can do this weekend, nothing I can do until Wednesday, except to continue to strive to give Tyler the childhood and life he so very much deserves, as much as my disabilities or money will allow.

And this weekend, keeping it all together is the most important thing I have to do…for my son.


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About mamasick

Emily Cullen is a pen-name. I suffer from chronic illnesses and diseases which include Bipolar Disorder, Asthma, Diabetes and Fibromyalgia. I had battled Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis but there is no longer evidence of me having these diseases and my Rheumatologist has declared them to be "burnt out" of my system. I am separated from my husband, “Grant”. Our son, “Tyler” was born in September of 2006 and suffers from tics and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and is delayed in fine and gross motor skills. In my blog I seek to let sick moms know that they are not the only ones going through this, and to educate people about what can happens when one becomes catastrophically ill. I also strive to break down stereotypes of what a “Welfare Mom” is like. Anything that I have gone through due to being sick, is written on the pages of Mama Sick.
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7 Responses to The School Called

  1. Aw Emily … I’m sorry! I hope this means that he will get the help that he needs and deserves! And that you will get answers that bring you peace. I know it doesn’t help a lot when you are IN the struggle … but these battles that God allows in our lives make us better, stronger, more compassionate people. I really truly believe that!
    Beth Zimmerman´s last blog post ..Missing My Boy

  2. Tendai says:

    Being in Kindergarten places a huge demand upon the child and sometimes they erupt when it gets to be too much. Plus they really need to observe a child for awhile to see for sure if there are fine motor delays before talking to parents and not just the stress of starting Kindergarten. Believe me, a teacher would not say a child has fine motor skills delay willy-nilly because then the school would HAVE to provide services. It doesn’t mean the teacher thinks he is bad or is not smart or not special. She said it because she wants to help and sees his potential and doesn’t want anything to stop him.

    You know my son has autism but he also has limited verbal skills and lots of delays in certain skills. However, he is still a clever little bugger. Too clever sometimes. He is also smart education-wise and very affectionate. His teacher loves him and he loves his teacher and I couldn’t ask for a better advocate in conjunction with us as parents.

    We just had a call yesterday from her to let us know that she was sending progress reports home and didn’t want us to be surprised by it. He had regressed in the report and we instantly knew why. He had screamed half the afternoon class he attends almost the entire month of September! He acts out when I’ve been in the hospital and I was in the hospital longer than ever this time and it was huge life event change for everyone. So naturally it is not unexpected he would regress but with kids with autism, regression allows for more services.

    For the longest time I felt guilty over every preemie illness, developmental delay, diagnosis, or self injurious behavior because I didn’t recognize the signs of early labor. He was born at 27 weeks 6 days and I believed it was My contractions never hurt and I didn’t know I was in active labor. The only reason I went to the ER because I was spotting and then I was too far gone for the medications to stop labor to even work. My doctor tried hard to stop my labor and he was born at 27 weeks 6 days and for years I felt it was all my fault.

  3. Tendai says:

    Sorry that last paragraph made no sense at all! I had a little help from a little someone. But I was trying to say that I felt it was my fault for years whenever something went wrong with my son. It was a heavy weight upon me for years and then when he turned one and I had serious back problems but he had serious delays, I struggled to care for him. I struggle now. If I wasn’t limited by my disabilites, I could work with him on his disabilities. As it is, my whole household, the school and any other services that my insurance will cover works with him. I’ve had to rely on other people which as it should be because we cannot do it all by ourselves. Plus, my son is being provided services by experts and I am not an expert in those areas. But I am expert in my little boy and I know how to love him, which is the best medicine.

    My guilt motivated me but it also kept me trapped in a cycle of grief and was unhealthy and unrealistic. You and your husband are grieving about your son having OCD & Tourette’s as well as your own disabilites so what you are feeling is normal. Allow yourself to feel what you feel and it is ok. Talk to a counselor about it if is overwhelming. Rely on your team of experts. Your son will be ok because you love him enough to take the steps to help him. So many people don’t do that because they live in denial. Above all, this is not your fault. Your little boy is fearfully and wonderfully made in the Image of God and so are you.

  4. Elliot says:

    If I had to do kindergarten again I would probably lash out and be disruptive too. It is probably somewhat to do with his adjusting to school.

  5. mamasick says:

    Thanks for stopping by, Elliot. I don’t know how old you are but the new saying is “Kindergarten is the new first grade”. Some of the kids are reading and the teacher has informed us that this is the first year they will be teaching the class math. Math?! My son has homework every day! He went to pre-school. I really feel for the children who stayed at home with their mothers. Are they going to be labeled disabled because they can’t compete? More and more adults are holding their children who were born in the summer and fall and who just make the cutoff back a year. At first I thought it was crazy but now I can see the sense in it if the standards are this rigorous!

  6. Caroline says:

    Oh, Emily, my heart broke with you as I read this post. I am praying with you, I feel confident that you and your husband will be able to help Tyler through this. And, I look forward to reading all about it.
    Caroline´s last blog post ..Another Weekend, Another Fall Festival

  7. Mrs4444 says:

    Every child is honeymooning the first month or so of school; maybe he _was_ doing fine (and controlling his tics/noises) until he became more comfortable. Or maybe his meds need adjusting. Teachers who’ve been in the classroom that long have often worn out their levels of patience for non-compliance. I hope that’s not the case for Tyler, or it’s going to be a very long year.

    Another thought I have is this; avoid thinking in black-or-white terms about what the teacher (or anyone) tells you. If she says your child is having problems in school, it doesn’t mean she’s also saying that he has no good qualities. As parents, I think it’s natural to be defensive, but try to remember the big picture, and you will feel better. I hope the meeting went well. Thanks for sharing this link.

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