We've chatted before, you and I, about what a challenge Bug is to my ability to be a good parent. I doubt myself constantly when it comes to this kid. In fact, at any given point in time the only thing I've got any degree of certainty about is the fact that I'm failing him in some fundamental way.
We had parent/teacher conferences about a month back, right before the boys went on fall break. Leading up to this, apparently Bug had been having some trouble getting all of his homework both completed and turned in. In our defense, however, the teacher didn't bother to tell us that until we only had 10 days left in the quarter. So I sent off an email to the teacher, explaining ... yet again.... the whole ADHD/Bipolar thing. I suggested that if it would make it easier to work with Bug we'd be happy to coordinate with his doctor and the school in implementing a 504 plan. (Coach, Bug's doctor, and I had all discussed the differences between a 504 plan and an IEP, but in the end decided that if we did need something, we would go with the 504.) I fully expected the teacher to disagree, as it has been our experience that teachers would prefer NOT to have to do anything that requires more effort on their part to work with kids who need a bit.... more. (Please, understand that I mean NO disrespect to any teachers reading this. This has just been the experience with the teachers we've had to work with since Bug was diagnosed. I'm positive there are many wonderful, hardworking and generous teachers who are absolutely willing to give of themselves--their time, their energy, their EFFORT..... we just have not been blessed with many of those.) So I was completely unsurprised when Bug's teacher stated, quite bluntly, that he didn't think that would be necessary. What DID surprise me was hearing THIS come out of that teacher's mouth:
I read your email, and I have to tell you that I disagree with you 100% on your assessment of Bug. I don't think this is anything other than him CHOOSING NOT TO do the things he knows he's supposed to.
What?!? Let me ask that again..... WTH?!?!?!
YOU -- who have only known my child for a mere 9 weeks and in only one setting, are disagreeing with ME -- who has known my child for 10 years and in multiple settings. Not only that, but YOU -- who has only been out of school and practicing your chosen profession for a rather short four years, are disagreeing with THE DOCTOR who has a license, not to mention YEARS of experience who stated this to be true about Bug:
He has ADHD.
He has a mood disorder that is strongly suspected to be Bipolar Disorder.
It is also strongly suspected that he has Oppositional Defiant Disorder.
All of which must first be diagnosed by a licensed medical practitioner, such as a psychiatrist. Which, coincidentally enough, WE HAVE DONE. Second, an individual with all of these lovely conditions is strongly recommended to be on medication that has been prescribed, and is monitored, by said doctor. Which, again by some awesome coincidence, IS WHAT WE ARE DOING.
And? I'll let you in on a secret, Mr. Clueless Teacher. Subjecting my son, who really can only seriously focus on one major mental point at a time, to a continuous punishment of writing sentences each time he doesn't turn in his homework? IS NOT WORKING. And if you're paying attention at all, you'll realize that. After all, you're the genius who has assigned him to write no less than 600 sentences over the last two weeks alone. Stating the same sentence. Over and over and over. And yet, he still continues to NOT turn in the homework. Does the phrase "square peg, round hole" sound familiar at all?
And another thing, Mr. Clueless Teacher. When we last spoke at the conference, you agreed to COMMUNICATE with me, and let me know frequently how Bug is doing in class. You agreed to let me know, quickly this time, when it seemed he was slipping a bit. You and I agreed to become a team, working together for Bug. You didn't like it much when I told you that I felt you were setting him up to fail by your closemindedness when it came to alternative ways to work with this kid. So you and I agreed to work together. You would call me, I would work with Bug more strenuously on my end, and together we would work for Bug's success.
I have not received even one email from you. Not one phone call. Not a single note sent home. Wow, Mr. Clueless Teacher. You are some communicator. It is no longer a mystery why Bug isn't learning anything.
Oh, wait! He's too busy worrying about getting his sentences completed to concentrate on something as silly and inconsequential as homework and schoolwork!
So here is what I'm going to do. Once I calm down (and in all reality, that will probably not actually happen, but tomorrow is my personal deadline for attacking this), I am going to compose an email to you. One filled with links to sites designed to educate you, who apparently still needs educating on how to work with Special Needs students--no matter what those needs might entail--on ADHD, Bipolar Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. An email where I, once again, offer to coordinate a 504 Plan with the school, my son, and yourself. And this time, I'm copying the Principal on it. And depending on how you respond, I am seriously considering escalating this higher up the educational food chain. I'm fairly certain that when the Superintendent is reminded of the additional funding that is available for not only the school but the entire district as well, just for accommodating a Special Needs student, you will be gently encouraged to actively participate in this with us.
I don't want it to go that route, Mr. Clueless Teacher. I just want you to follow through on your promise to work with my son. I want my son to have the same chance to succeed, and the same support system behind him, that the other students in your class have. You know, the ones who require no extra effort on your part.
But mostly, I want my son to go back to believing in himself. You've taken that away from him and I'm just not sure I can forgive that.