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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