On a good day, parenting will test the integrity of your character. On a bad day, parenting will test your will to live. Parenting children with trauma histories will cause you to test the integrity of everything and everyone you thought you knew, for the rest of your life.
~J. Skrobisz

Monday, September 16, 2013

Die Frau

This past weekend I bumped into a former student.  I taught her and her two younger siblings.  She has a PhD in Biology and her siblings each have Master's degrees in their various fields.  She inquired about me and I just shrugged and chuckled.  "Eh. You know. Still teaching.  It's what I do."  I walked away feeling proud of my students for achieving so much and to have been one small stepping stone on their journey to success. But I also felt sullen that I haven't accomplished more in my lifetime.

39 is a month away which means I'm 13 months from 40.  I understand that midlife crises can be tough and I don't think I'm dodging that bullet but great scott, I really thought I'd be on a different life path at this stage in my life.  All of those "What do you want to be when you grow up" essays in grade school and beyond have been nothing more than fairy tales.

I am certain that most adults get to this point in life and feel roughly the same as I do now.  Things happen. Kids arrive, economies falter, countries go to war, disease filters in, loved ones die, relationships end, jobs are lost, new jobs are found, investments fail, houses burn, lakes flood, cars crash.  I listen to the clock and it just keeps ticking.  I look in the mirror and my wrinkles get deeper.  I have pictures on the walls of tiny babies but the bedrooms are filled with adolescents.  I keep teaching science to high school students in the same grades but somehow the children behind the desks get younger every year.

Some days, I feel so old.  Other days I feel so young.  What a weird place to be in life.

Duol!ngo is an app that will teach you many languages.  I've decided I want to learn German.  Actually, learning my father's native tongue - a Ukranian dialect - was on my bucket list but since he was born in Germany when Poland was occupied, I have dual citizenship there.   So I downloaded that app and I'm slowly working my way through the German lessons.  Today, during some downtime in the lesson plan, one of my students was on his device...practicing his German with the same app, just one lesson behind me.  I felt excited to have someone to share my journey with.

My bucket list also includes:
Learn Polish German
Get a PhD in education
Buy a truck, a horse trailer, a farm and my own horses
Run an organic food co-op that is employed by special needs adults
Write a book that is published
Take a cross country tour
Own a boat and an RV
Take a cruise
Visit all the continents
Get a hunting license and kill my own meat
Leave an indelible mark on humanity
Be scrapped for spare parts, the remains burned and tossed to the wind

Maybe I'll find love along the way.  Maybe not.  I don't particularly like being alone but being single sure beats being in an abusive marriage.  One way or another, I'm certain to make great friends along the way that have one or two of the same items on their bucket list.  I can revel in the fact that I have assisted some students toward achieving their goals and I know that in everything I set my mind to, I'll be teaching others along the way.  It's what I do, It's who I am.

Die Frau hat eine Pferd.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

One week Later

At the meeting, I was told that my daughter's referral for the EBD program was unusual and atypical because she didn't have all of the necessary elements.

What elements? I asked.

Well, she didn't have a behavior plan or a functional assessment.


Is it MY fault the school never did a behavior plan? And hello?!  How many functional assessments does she need?  I could have provided about five from private sources. It was right there in her IEP - she thinks like a five year old.  *rolls eyes*

Then they told me how she would have to enter at the highest level of restriction and the class only had boys and the teacher is male and she would only be there to stabilize with the goal to reintegrate her to the general education setting again and all of her behaviors are RAD (uh... duh) and and and

When they mentioned that they wanted her to work towards transitioning back to the general classroom the assistant principal interjected with "That better be a SLOW process"  *enter my cheeky grin here*

Here's how this monkey game works:
The school knew my daughter needed to be moved out
The bus driver knew it (the asst. principal was late for the meeting because bus driver was writing a D.R. on Sissy)
The resource team knew it.
The EBD teacher that had Sissy in grade school knew it.
The EBD teacher that evaluated her for the middle school program knew it.
The EBD referral specialist knew it.
The catch?  No one could out and out say, "uh. yeah.  This kid is a mess.  A liability.  We can't handle this.  But we have to cover our butts and not actually say that because then mom could sue us."

So they paint the picture as though MOM is the bad guy, demanding a referral and placement into a program that on paper, my daughter isn't qualified for.  And then they ask, "So is this what you want for your child?"


Are you prepared to sign and accept the restrictions this entails?


Is your daughter aware of this change?


Then they called Sissy into the meeting.  (She had been outside the school office door at 7 am pacing and demanding to be allowed to attend).  And my daughter sat next to me and began to talk.  In five minutes every adult was hiding their giggles and biting their lips so Sissy wouldn't think she was being picked on.  At one point Sissy got angry and started shouting that we needed to stop laughing at her and several adults chimed in and said it was how she said it that was funny, not what she was saying and in all of those giggles, papers were passed around and signed without further ado and badda boom badda bing, she was enrolled as an EBD student.

She started the new class last Monday.  She was stealing and pushing limits with the EBD teacher by Wednesday.

When I spoke with the bus driver about her DR later, I told him that she could be back later this year because the school said it was a stabilization placement with the plan to reintegrate her.  Bus driver laughed.  "She won't be back!"

OK.  So if the BUS DRIVER knows my daughter can't handle general education, what's the big to do all about then?

It's a liability thing.  Bottom line.  School doesn't want to get sued.  Because I COULD be the mom that says that her poor little child darling needs the same privileges as every other student and that she shouldn't be discriminated against because of her disability.  Because I COULD be a chameleon that says one thing and then turns around and slaps them with a lawsuit that would render the county penniless.

I'm not that kind of mom.
I know what my daughter needs.
My daughter knows what she needs.

Her home behaviors were still rough this past week, due in large part to transition issues but right now she's happy as a lark, being compliant and sweet and tomorrow is another school week.  Hang in there mommas.  Don't let the system win.  Don't let them make you back down. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Happy Hump Day

The battle continues.

While Sissy comes unglued at home because she is back in school and being asked to do things she doesn't want to do (in other words, education = no coloring and listening to Michael Jackson ad nauseum), I suit up and prepare to do battle on her behalf, again.

OK, so it is a bit of a joke that it only took her 17 days to get ISS.  But the reality is that it's the school's fault.  Yes, my daughter should be held responsible for her choice to cut PE by going to the bathroom for 45 minutes and not telling any adult where she was going or what she was doing.  But I've told the school and the county time and time again, she can't have that much freedom.

Look, if I have to make my daughter sit in a lawn chair in the driveway while I mow my front yard, a job that takes only 20 minutes, because she gets into too much trouble if she is unattended in the house while I use the toilet for 5 minutes, then clearly my child can not be expected to walk from one wing of a middle school building to another with the other 900 students all moving at the same time AND be expected to GO TO THE CLASS SHE HATES.

In short, she's a liability.  A walking lawsuit waiting to happen.  A flight risk.  Vulnerable prey to a predatory hormonal male student that sees her wandering the halls alone, unsupervised.

At home, it's clear to me.  With that much freedom, she panics.  For Sissy, that means be bad, be very bad so you get restrictions that limit your freedom!  Of course, if you ask my daughter if she's doing it on purpose she'll deny it flat out.  But if you ask her, "So... why do you think you keep making poor decisions?"  She'll answer quickly.

"I can't take it!  I just can't take it!!! It's too much for me!!!"

Because it is.  And if my mentally ill and developmentally impaired child knows that it's too much and can SAY SO, then why is it such a hassle to get the county to agree that a more restrictive learning environment is what she needs?  Why does it come to a battle every single time?  Why does it require that I call the state so THEY can call the county and tell the county to call me back because the county WON'T call me back unless I play hard ball?  All it does is make me look like a brute of a helicopter parent that enjoys fighting and tantruming like my daughter does.    When in reality, I'm a mother fighting for what is right, fair and appropriate for my child.

When asked about ISS, my precious daughter said with excitement, "It was cool ! We got our own special toilet time and lunch time, separate from the rest of the students!"

This is NOT the voice of  a child that is remorseful for her actions.  It is the voice of an emotionally disabled child that is functioning at age 5 on a good day but who also has the uncanny ability to speak the truth about herself without saying it outright - she needs a learning environment in which she is separate from the rest of the general population and then she will be happier than a camel on hump day.