Insubordination Station

Originally posted on Diary of a Crazed Mommy on January 24, 2006.

Nothing makes a parent feel more “parental” then when your child sidles up to your van and looks as if the apocalypse is upon him and says:

“Mom, you are going to kill me.”

In his defense, he’s probably right, and it warms my heart to know two things:

1. He knows I’m going to be mad about whatever he did; and
2. That what he did was so bad, he had to immediately come out and tell me as to avoid his immediate death.

By God, I’ve raised this kid right, I tell you. (I’m kidding. Once the teen years kick in, I’m in for a world of hurt, I’m well aware.)

So, back to the story:

Apparently, Spiff had, what his teacher later told me was, “a bad day”. He hands me this yellow piece of paper that tells me my son has broken the “behavioral rules of the classroom”. I see in the margin that Spiff was “yelling very loudly” at the teacher. Spiff’s explanation starts to get loud too, thereby giving me a “peek inside” the volume and decibel levels that his teacher has to endure. I tell him to stay in the car while I go have a word with the teacher. She tells me that Spiff was talking out of turn to the guest in the class, not raising his hand, and peppering the discussion with his own insight, sometimes on-topic, but mostly off-topic.

His take on this part: “I was helping the guest”.
The teacher’s (and guest’s) take: Being disruptive and rude.

After this came lunch, and then recess, which Spiff hates. He doesn’t know what to do with himself, so he wanders the recess area, head down, tuning everything out, until it’s time to go in. Since his best (girl) friend moved away, he doesn’t really have anyone to play with (at least in his mind). The teacher tells me that he circled the line of kids when they lined up to go inside; but yet didn’t arrive with the class at the top of the stairs and in the classroom.

Not to worry she says, there are other teachers who’s recess time is longer and the ESE teacher is there, so she knew Spiff would not be unattended.

(SAY WHAT?!?!?!?)

…Let’s pause for a moment so I can quietly freak out. This teacher knows that Spiff needs to have reminders, needs visual and verbal cues, and can’t be expected to “assume” to know what the next step is going to be. Yet nowhere in her telling is there any words about telling Spiff directly (that is really important) that it was time to line up and recess was ending. Holy cow!!!

So just as the teacher gets the rest of the class settled in the room and begins a lesson, she sends a classmate to go find my son. Even before he can get to the door, in walks Spiff. By now the lesson is underway, and about 10 minutes has elapsed since she last saw my son. Spiff, who apologizes for being late, is told that because he was 10 minutes late getting back to the class, he now has been docked the 10 minutes from tomorrow’s recess time. Now, please go take your seat.

(Can you see what’s coming next? I saw it coming a mile away.)

Immediately Spiff begins to explain it was an accident, he didn’t mean to and it’s not fair. I’m fairly sure it was in that order. It’s the order he uses quite a bit at home when he gets in trouble. However, in this case, the teacher doesn’t have time to explain the niceties, and needs to get back to her lesson. I understand that, I really do. She also wants him to “own his mistake” and not blame other people or things when he gets in trouble.

He’s a boy, and they’re wired that way automatically, so I can see a problem here when you compound that with Asperger’s Syndrome. Not a pretty picture.

Spiff, now upset and stressed out he has lost any time for doing something he doesn’t see as his fault; begins to “state his case” (read: argue) with the teacher. Loudly. Then drops to his knees in front of the whole class and pound his fists on either side of his head. These are typical AS behaviors, and the teacher is aware of that; just like she is aware of the reasons why M was late getting back to class. She’s ready to forgive him for that, but just wants him to understand that because he got 10 extra minutes that the other students did not, he has to make up that time tomorrow.

However, she doesn’t explain this to him in that moment, she tells him he’s going to miss 10 minutes of recess tomorrow, and he needs to get in his seat and get to work.

He gets louder in his explanation, feeling that decibel level will change her mind and all will be understood.

Sadly for him, it is not. In the meantime, she has lost him emotionally and mentally. He’s shutting down in front of his classmates, which is never pretty, and if he didn’t have such an understanding teacher and classmates, could be ammo for being picked on mercilessly.

Apparently she had to stop the lesson, calm him down, and gave him the letter to give to me, which sent him off again on a tangent where he repeatedly told her that “my mom is going to kill me.”

She tells me all of this, and lets me know that had this been any other student, he would have gone to the Principal’s Office on a referral. I understand that, and I appreciate her candor. What bothers me though is that I warned her to expect things like this right after the holidays, and that we adjusted his medication, so old behaviors might resurface. She tells me that he came to her last week and said he was hearing voices. That might have been nice to know last week, when I could have asked him about it while it was fresh in his mind instead of a week later when it was nonexistent. I also understand the reasoning that he needs to “own” his mistakes. But without cues and reminders; Spiff doesn’t always remember. Just when you think he’s got it down, he regresses. Or forgets. If he’s stressed out about something, plan on reminding him a lot.

My point (and I do have one), is that bless her heart, but she should have known this.

It would be different if I wasn’t accessible, and she could never chat with me. But I’m at the school all the time. I’m not kidding. Today, I was up there 3 times. Once to drop off the kids, once to drop off juice for Scamp’s classroom snack, and finally to pick them up at school. My cell phone is on at all times. I’m not hard to find. Honest. And yet, after my son’s “bad day”, I now need to know everything? Wouldn’t some of this have helped to know about last week?

Don’t get me wrong. I love Spiff’s teacher. She is (besides me) my strongest advocate in his school. But sometimes I have to pause and wonder what she’s thinking. Or not thinking.

Guess it’s time once again to call another meeting.

I love meetings. (use lots of sarcasm when reading that last sentence. I did.)

Epilogue: Spiff can now control his behavior better, but still struggles with the “bigger picture” most times. And now? I work in the school system. We still struggle with this in varying degrees. We probably always will.

Shari can be found here at 5 Minutes for Special Needs every Wednesday. When she’s not crazy busy, she tries to regularly update at her own site, Diary of a Crazed Mommy.

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