I pick D. up at school for speech therapy and his teacher pulls me aside. "D kicked me today," she tells me, raising her skirt to show me her bruise. "And he ran away from Miss Betty, and so he had to miss snack. I always make them miss the next activity, and it was snack. I wanted to tell you."
I am in the grocery store, buying cupcakes for D's class. My cell phone rings. I answer. It is D's teacher, who tells me that D has kicked the assistant and hurt her, and she would like me to talk to him on the phone.
I am too surprised to react properly, and so right there, in the grocery store, I am on my cell phone, admonishing my developmentally delayed 5-year-old. Who clearly, so clearly HAS NO CLUE what is going on. "Did you kick Miss Betty?" I ask him. "Yeah." "We don't kick," I tell him. "Tell me. Say, 'We don't kick.'"
"We don't kick," he repeats." We do this for several minutes until the teacher finally, mercifully takes the phone back and asks him, "Are you going to kick?" "Yeah," he says. And she makes him repeat it for me to hear. I tell her that he doesn't understand the question, the future-ness of it, and she asks what to do.
I don't know, aren't you the special ed teacher? I want to say. But I come up with something about keeping it simple and in the present. "We don't kick."
I'm so flustered by the conversation that the cupcakes are smushed, which makes me cry.
D's birthday, with all the mixed feelings that brings. The note in his folder doesn't mention any behavior problems.
The nurse calls to tell me that D. is in her office with a runny nose. I point out that I sent in a note stating that his allergies are acting up. He returns to class.
D. comes home from school and asks about going to social group therapy. We head out to the park for a bit, and it's only when we come back in that I check his backpack. I find his folder, plus those of two other students, which violates about six laws. D's folder says that he grabbed a teacher's breast and smacked another one's bottom. On the way to therapy, I call the teacher and leave a message about the extra folders.
D. walks into therapy without any problems--a first for this therapist. At the end of the hour, they tell me that he was amazing, incredible, fantastic. On the way home he sings to me.
After dinner, Mr. WG leaves for a basketball game, and I sit down to watch TV. The phone rings. It is D's teacher, calling to tell me that the reason we got three folders is because the kids were so crazy today. She doesn't know what to do. There are 10 children in the class in the morning, and they are so many, and all with issues. And she can tell D. misses the aide who used to be there. "Oh, she's not there anymore?" "No, she was temporary. Now we have the permanent aide." Oh. So, yet another change in the classroom. OK. "And, Mrs. WG, I have to tell you, I worry about D. Because sometimes, you know, it's like he's not there in the classroom with us."
She tells me that he missed another activity today, a pumpkin carving, for misbehaving. He had to sit on the other side of the room, with the other bad kids.
She tells me that they have to do some testing in the classroom. They'll see letters of the alphabet for three seconds, and then they have to identify the letter. And then she'll say two words, and if the words are the same, the student must say "yes." If the words are different, the student must say, "no."
This seems a waste of time. D. cannot possibly pass either of these two tests, and the time spent preparing and taking them could, in my opinion, be put to much better use.
Also, I am not happy at the thought of D. constantly missing activities in response to misbehavior. I hang up the phone and cry. This is not helpful.
I call my friend, a psychologist, and I ask her what to do. Together, we come up with an idea that might work: we can give D. a small toy -- a helicopter or a car -- that he can have and hold when he is good. When he misbehaves, it gets taken away for a few minutes. I schedule a meeting with the teacher for Monday.
I cry in the car on the way to lunch. I cry at lunch with my best friend when I ask her if I'll ever get to the point when I can just love D. and not be sad.
And here we are.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008