Learning Not to Punch the Teacher

When your mom borned you, she took one look and threw you in the trash.

The classmate who delivered this charming nugget to my son probably had no idea how close he was to the truth. No concept of how deep his words would wound.

Afterward, we had a long talk about how it’s okay to want to punch someone but it’s not okay to actually put hands on someone. I am proud that even in the face of such soul-searing spite, our boy did not retaliate.

I suggested that he find a constructive way to deal with the painful feelings. Punch a pillow. Draw a picture. Write your feelings.

Tonight, I take my own advice.

Our son’s teacher vacillates between understanding and intolerant.

She is personally offended by his need to draw while she talks and doesn’t understand his Aspie idiosyncrasies.

But after Dad died, she gave our boy a lot of grace as he worked through the grief in the way all the articles predicted: a nosedive in school behavior and performance.

My emotions conflict often when dealing with her.

Today, I received a text.

I saw your son violently kick a student from another class. Please encourage him to behave appropriately in school.

The text bothered me.

If he “violently” kicked another child, I should have been picking him up from the principal’s office, not finding out after the fact.

This was followed by,

He didn’t eat his lunch today.

and

During the test today, he took a red pen and drew on his arms.

This last one, I’d already noticed, a fabulous red dragon tattoo. Although I’ve asked him not to draw on himself, I’m not that concerned about impermanent ink decorations. If he sneaks off to get a real tattoo, well, that’s a problem. No tattoos until you’re 25, when your brain has matured fully. That’s the rule. 

I responded, “Yes, I saw. Did he do anything right?”

She didn’t answer.

I added, “He mentioned that his friend showed him new shoes that change color and invited him to hit them with his foot. Was this the kicking incident?”

No response, then,

He asked permission to bring a cannonball and a bullet to school. He said you will help him bring the cannonball to school. Cannonballs and bullets are not allowed in school. Please discourage him from bringing these items to school.

Good grief. A family friend gave our little history buff several artifacts collected over the years. Our guy’s first response:

“We’re learning about this in history! I bet my teacher would love to see these!”

I told him that he couldn’t take them to school but that possibly I could get special permission to bring them in so the kids could see the display. Evidently he was too excited and brought it up to her.

This is the kid who smoked me in the “Jeopardy” category World Wars and corrected his teacher (accurately) when she taught about Pearl Harbor.

He’s really thrilled about history. Instead of encouraging that passion, she’s just annoyed.

My true difficulty with the situation is this:

I get it.

I understand fully that he requires ten times more direction than any other kid in class. He needs someone to help him see the connection between his actions and consequences (good or bad). He is frequently distracted by a buzzing light, a whispered word, a tapping foot or a bug doodling around the room. He doesn’t think through actions or words before he does or speaks.

I want to be on her side. I want to be a team.

Maybe the last two years (with fabulous teachers who recognized the diamond shine under the inches of behavioral coal dust) have spoiled me. We worked together to find solutions and they’ve offered advice for his current teacher. Those two years weren’t perfect and there’s no way to dream they were, no matter how flexible your imagination. But we worked together and tried each others’ ideas.

She discards ideas faster than I can suggest them.

Seriously, I just want us to work together to point this kid to success; the success I KNOW he can have. In a recent IEP meeting, his caseworker shook her head and said, “even with all his focusing struggles, he’s still keeping his grades up. I can’t believe it.”

I CAN believe it.

He’s brilliant. When he barely studies, he still passes (sometimes with 100s). With the right guidance and focus, he’ll be unstoppable.

Right now, though, she’s just telling him (and me) what he’s doing wrong. And that really gets me steamed. I have NO problem with consequences and the Assistant Principal can vouch that I lend full support to every intervention.

However.

He responds to consistent recognition of what he’s doing right. If he knows he’ll be consistently rewarded for doing the right thing, he generally does the right thing. I say generally, because he’s far from perfect (aren’t we all) and it doesn’t always work, but 8 out of 10 times, it does.

She says, “it’s too hard” to catch him doing well. She thinks it’s ridiculous to give him a “good” point for eating lunch (which the psychologist suggested as at least one guaranteed good point for the day). She argued against most of the interventions that everyone else (school counselor, head psychologist, principal, case worker, mother) agreed upon. She has 20+ other kids and doesn’t have time to devote to my kid. Just “thank God” when he’s quiet and ignore him.

I get it.

But this constant “tattling” (because that’s what the texts above felt like) is just wearing me out. Tomorrow I’m taking the conversation to show the principal, then asking what can be done.

The last time I asked, every other class was maxed out and there’s no possibility of moving him to another class.

Maybe there’s no solution other than,

“Hang in there.”

We’re in school for about four and a half more months. Almost an eternity, yet I know the time will dissipate like clouds puffing past a skydiver.

Fifth grade is not the end of the world. No one wants to know, “How were your marks in elementary school?” No one asks, “Were you ever sent to the principal’s office before middle school?” Maybe we just need to make it through.

In the meantime, though, Hubby takes me for walks and I write.

Tonight, as we trudged down the moon-drenched driveway, I said,

“I want to punch her in the face.”

This is not entirely accurate; I don’t actually want to punch her because then I’d have to deal with legal action (this is the forethought I hope to instill in our boy). However, I want to write about it, and thereby feel better. And so, with a tip of my hat to the best rhymer ever, I write.

 

For Teacher

I must not punch her in the face

Though maybe just a spray of mace

Just a smidge, only a sample

No, I must be an example

Must not, must not kick her knee

Shall not, will not put a bee

In her coffee piping hot

Flick her? No.—NO! I cannot.

 

When I am so mad…I’ll write!

Get some extra sleep tonight.

Go for long walks down the drive.

In her car hide a beehive.

Oh, wait, that last one is wrong;

Instead I’ll sing out a song

Whisper a soft little prayer

That she will lose all her hair.

 

Oh, no, there I go again.

Paying vengeance is a sin

I must let it go, be done

Show forgiveness for my son

That boy’s always watching me

And I so want him to see:

 

Great achievement’s possible

Mercy is unstoppable

Even on the hardest day

Grace and faith will make a way.

 

There.  I feel better.

And bonus, I’m not going to jail for punching a teacher. So, there’s that.

When life just isn’t fair, how do you deal with it?

 

 

 

 

 

About Casey

Adoption = my life. I'll give it to you straight. Success, failure, truth.

Posted on February 7, 2017, in Adoption, autism, Education and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. I love, love, LOVE your poem! We have been blessed to have supportive teachers who not only help our daughters but also do support our challenges as parents. I’m sorry you’re going through this with your son’s teacher but he sounds like an amazing kid and you are an amazing mom!

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  2. Oh man, I’ve never been in your situation, but I feel the need to punch her in the face for you. I understand that bullets would be seen as a weapon, and a cannonball is technically a weapon, as well – but what the hell does she think he can do with a CANNONBALL? You just look at them! Unless your son has some Herculean-type-strength or something. She frustrates me.

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  3. I didn’t realize texting parents was a thing. Is this for al students? I loved reading this thanks for sharing!

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  4. I am glad you are going to share the ongoing “tattles” with the principal. Praying as you go in!

    A good friend wrote this the other day, and it has SO blessed me:

    “It’s tiring when everything is broken –
    but I want to be like my husband, who is patient, steady and uncomplaining as he deals with our broken water heater, broken household finance systems, the big broken justice system…At least his heart isn’t broken and he gives me love, courage and good cheer.”

    I am in a place of great weariness, also over the brokenness of everything around me — mostly broken people.

    But at least our hearts aren’t broken. We can still love! 🙂

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  5. That’s crazy! I’ve never heard of teachers texting parents, much less throughout the day for every time your kid does so much as sneeze. I wouldn’t have been so patient. I would have blocked the number. Go you!

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  6. Haha! I love your poem. There are several teachers I’ve wanted to punch – the man who was so inexperienced and ineffectual he let the whole year’s grades slip so I had to send my son for special lessons just to get him back where he should have been; the ex nun teacher who loathed children and was incapable of hiding it from anyone, especially the kids; the man who thought he was working in the 1940s and was one step away from starting a boot camp – with six year olds.
    Teaching is hard – the toughest job – but can’t she see she’d actually be helping herself if she implimented some of the things you’ve said? If your boy feels better about himself and happier, he’ll work all the harder and give her a quiet time. It’s the negativity, isn’t it? So demoralising. She needs to try saying ‘yes’ occasionally.
    As you say, hold on for the end of the year …

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, I guess I should quit complaints while you’re ahead! 😉 That nun comment cracked me up (do you have that phrase?) because my mother in law had similar nun teachers and still talked about it 40 years later!
      Thanks for the encouragement. I am putting a knot in my rope and hanging on…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Fortunately, none inflicted any permanent damage! I was taught partly by nuns too – well a nun – but that’s a different story 🙂 As you say though, fortunately the children move on to the next teacher and the next. Hopefully next year will see an improvement for your boy.
        And ‘cracked me up’? Oh yes, we have that one!

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