Sunday, March 09, 2008

Pokemon Boy And The Sub - An Update

Back in February, I posted about how Pokemon Boy was having anxiety at school due to a long-term sub. I thought I'd let you know how that went.

After two weeks of almost daily notes home, I spoke to one of my wonderful friends at church who is a teacher. I wanted to talk to the sub but I dread being one of those mothers who acts like her child is entitled to do whatever he wants. I didn't want to come off as one of those in-your-face parents who thinks their precious little prince or princess should get preferential treatment. I didn't want to choose the wrong words, offend her and then let Pokemon Boy reap the results of that kind of confrontation. Gah! I was also going to wait a bit more to see if it corrected itself.

My wonderful and wise teaching friend listened to me, talked with me and ended up giving me great advice. Don't wait. Talk to her tomorrow. Choose my words carefully so I present myself as a partner and not an adversary. I also told her how I don't like waving the Tourette's flag. I don't like to just say, "Well, he has Tourette's..." as if that should excuse any actions on his part. Like I keep saying, his Tourette's is still very mild. I think the obsessive compulsive tendencies manifest in attention problems. At times, he focuses SO intently on things, you can't reach him. I mean, I've seen him read something and then I call his name. He'll look my way but I can tell he's not there - his mind is still on the book. He'll look right at me and I'll talk to him. But no reply. It's a zone-out kind of thing. It's very different from when he purposely tunes me out (as all kids do to their parents). I had a gut feeling that this was the main cause of his problems with the teacher.

Anyway, the next day was the Friday of her second week with Pokemon Boy's class. He cried that morning. He didn't want to go to school. He saw himself as a "bad student" and therefore shouldn't be in school. Can you imagine? At seven, he thinks he's not worthy of attending school with everyone else. It just KILLED me to have to reassure him that things will get better and force him to go to the bus. He left the house all red faced and puffy-eyed. I prayed a lot.

I called the teacher and asked when I could meet with her - phone or in person - her call. She took the time right there to talk to me. She sounded very competent and very much like she cared. That made me feel good. I told her I was concerned because Pokemon Boy had gone a full year with one note home. I told her I wanted to understand why he suddenly had 6 notes home in two weeks. She told me the examples of things that had caused the notes home. They were all things related to her having to tell him things multiple times. I get that. I know how frustrating that is. But in my head, I was thinking, ok...why did the main teacher not have a problem with it? We talked a bit and I told her I have the same problems with him at home. I told her that I have trouble determining when he's tuning me out and when it's just his intense focusing issues. Then I had to ask - "They told you he has Tourette's, right?" Nope. They hadn't. I imagine the teacher left suddenly due to contractions or who knows. It happens. So I told her his diagnosis and how it manifests, etc. She sounded very surprised but I think it made things make sense for her. So she said she would try to assess his actions differently - trying to look at him with this new knowledge. I told her I didn't expect her to excuse all of his actions. I told her that he will be a kid sometimes and will act out or tune her out, etc. I think it really made things make sense for her. When we had started talking, she just seemed to be so confused by the fact that he is such an excellent student, so very eager to please and so well behaved. She just couldn't understand why he would just ignore her so often. Now it made more sense.

Since that talk, he has had smiley faces every day. And he has been happy and not afraid to go to school.

I am so thankful to that woman for taking the time to really talk and listen. I'm so glad she was willing to open her mind to the possibility that Pokemon Boy wasn't doing these things to slight her. I am so thankful to my teacher friend for advising me and giving me the right approach. And I'm thankful to God for listening to my prayers and fixing the situation!

I think all this summer, I will be praying hard for Pokemon Boy's next teacher. The schools here are amazing. But you do get the odd teacher here or there that has just checked out or can't deal with anything other than "normal" students. God has provided three amazing teachers that have gone the extra mile for Pokemon Boy. I will ask for that trend to continue in the next school year.


ellesappelle said...

That is awesome. I am amazed at how good some teachers can be. I'm so glad Pokemon Boy is feeling happier about school!

Moanna said...

That's so great.

Ruthie said...

As a concerned parent, I think you initiated the conference with the right spirit and tone. There IS so much we don't know right off the bat about our students and you helped the sub understand your son better. I'm glad the sub was open-minded and receptive. Kids never fit into cookie cutter molds anyway. I'm glad your son enjoys school again! Yay!!