Saturday, March 17, 2012

Kapow! Kaboom! Smash! Crash!

Jack's been having a rough year. He has fantastic teachers, but the environment isn't working for him any more. Today was a prime example of that. Maybe the primest.

I have long likened phone calls from the school and notes home to be like little grenades that get lobbed at you when you least expect them—usually when you're coasting along in a good mood. Today was a prime example of that. Maybe the primest.

I had a lovely afternoon. Then Jack got off his bus and I found his recorder in his backpack. I'd never heard him play, so I asked if he knew any songs. He took the recorder and played an excellent, recognizable rendition of Old MacDonald.

I had no idea he could do that.

I was happy, Jack was happy, we had a long Friday afternoon ahead of us to play in the yard and be happy people.

Then Quinn's bus pulled up. Quinn got off, along with several neighborhood kids, including Jack's friend E. E told me about a fifth grader at recess who was mean to Jack. E was outraged about the whole situation. I am so grateful for her. Jack wants to marry her. *I* want him to marry her. I filed this information about the fifth grader away so I could talk to Jack about it later. I didn't yet realize all the other things I was going to have to add to that list.

Just as we walked into the house, the phone rang. It was the school counselor. Right at the end of the day Jack had gotten in trouble because another kid told him to do something, which he did, and which is against the rules. Later, when we were talking about it, I told Jack that sometimes kids tell other kids to do things to get them in trouble because they're being mean. Tears welled up in Jack's eyes and he said, "I didn't know they were being mean."

Then I opened Jack's communication log and there was a note from one of his teachers about something Jack had done.

Then I checked my email and there was an email from one of his teachers about something that Jack was suspected of doing.

Four grenades, all in a row. Ouch. They knocked me down and they knocked me down hard. I'm sure it super sucked for Jack too. I've been waiting for bullying, subtle or otherwise. I guess I just didn't expect it to all start in one day. I also didn't expect it to all start on the day Jack also did unrelated, undesirable stuff.

I was so emotionally trashed, I almost canceled plans I had to go see friends for dinner. I'm glad I didn't. These four lovely ladies helped me forget temporarily about mean kids and inappropriate behavior.

Susan, Vickie, Algernon, Elaine, Ellen

Algernon was just happy to see something other than the inside of my bag. He hasn't been out since Disney World.

Now we just move onward as always. When you fight the good fight, it makes sense that you get hit with some grenades now and again. I just wish there were a way that I could take them instead of Jack.

69 comments:

  1. "My heart is breaking."

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  2. I am so sorry. Give Jack (and you) a hug.

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  3. I have a friend who, at times like this, says "Medic! Medic!" in agonized tones. It came to mind.

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  4. Our eldest (with Asperger's) got into trouble at school years ago for doing something another child told him to do. (He actually wee'd up against a wall!) He had no idea this was inappropriate, being a literal and totally trusting soul. He also got bullied and didn't realise it. Thought the boy was his friend and the bullying must be what normally happens in a friendship. I SO feel for you.  

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  5. Poor Jack. Poor you.

    Here is what I firmly believe: We mamas who ache take some of the burden off our kids. Years past our Very Bad School Year, I still bear the scars... but my kiddo claims not to remember. It's cold comfort when you're still wading through the shrapnel, I know, but just remember that he is resilient, and so are you.

    Sending love and hugs and possibly ice cream.

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  6. Oh, how quickly a great day can be blown to smithereens because of the "grenades". I can feel like a minefield refugee some days, too. I worry about all of the same things. I know how I feel...and it isn't terrific.

    I am glad that despite your shellshocked state, you were able to get away. You need that. Way to don your "oxygen mask" last night! Hope today is better...

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  7. Suckfest, especially the bullying. Don't know what to say except -- been there, and I'm sorry. xo

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  8. Cyndi Soter O'NeilMarch 17, 2012 at 8:37 AM

    Ugh. Makes my heart hurt for both of you. I worry about my J, too -- that he'll be a follower of the wrong "friends" instead of a leader with the right ones. 

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  9. Suckitude. I'm sorry, friend.

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  10. I am so, so sorry. It's why I'm so glad Jake is in a SN school. Because any time he's in the yard at his twin brother's school, SOMETHING happens. It's like he's a magnet for mean.

    And that taking the hits for our kids? Yeah, wish I could do that too.

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  11. Don't let the school get away with blaming Jack for doing something another kid told him to do. It is VERY common with autistic kids, and a very dangerous way of bullying them- one that was so prominent here, we had an IEP goal about dealing with it in Joey's IEP. 

    Inappropriate behavior should be constructively and quickly addressed, not just noted. Call a team meeting. Now. Don't let it continue, even while you are searching for a better environment for our awesome Jack. 

    ***HUGS***

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  12. That is so heartbreaking. I worry so much about that happening with my daughter when her classmates get old enough to be mean, because she just does whatever they direct her to do.

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  13. I grew up with in diagnosed aspergers. Looking back, I can see that the days I got the worst of the bullying were also the days I got in the worst trouble (usually for acting out at home, though sometimes at school). So maybe it's not so surprising that all these things happened on the same day, even though it sucks for both of you. I think jack was acttually bullied twice - making someone else do something you know is wrong is bullying too, imo. I think you are awesome, for knowing that not all of it was him and trying to work through it with him.

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  14.  I feel that way too. And bonus! it fits in perfectly with my grenade metaphor.

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  15.  Shit like that makes me hate kids. Like, I know they can be capable of so much good, but I don't understand that mindset of getting other kids into trouble because they can. I just don't get it. And our innocent, literal kids? I'm so sad for them.

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  16.  I will take all of those things, including hope that I can take those scars instead of him. Thank you.

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  17.  I'll take your :( and raise you a >:-[

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  18.  It all seems so precarious, doesn't it? Hopefully they'll both make it through with minimal damage.

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  19.  Yep. Yesterday wanted me to eliminate any option of mainstreaming from Jack's life immediately. And I know that's not really the answer, but it seems so much safer.

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  20.  Thanks, Amanda. Don't worry. I'm composing my thoughts over the weekend. I'm all over it.

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  21.  I know. I hate that kids are like that. It breaks my heart.

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  22. Aww! Poor Jack, and you!!!  Sounds like a lot of what my daughter and I dealt with last year...I swear I lived in fear of her getting home and me hearing what happened every day. She had bullying, people getting her to do things she shouldn't, meltdowns, everything. Then we had other parents yelling at us in our own home because of things. It was a nightmare.  I think you have more supports around, so I hope it won't ever get that bad for you! But trust me...
    IT WILL GET BETTER!!!!
    If it got better for us, it will for you! And our year this year has been wonderful, knock on wood!!!
    (hug)

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  23. 5th grade - fantastic teachers - wonderful combination of programs (solid IEP, progressive principal, great young understanding teachers in GATE program, wonderful RSP professional). Everything melted down. Hideous, awful, scary.

    Began homeschooling through school's medical program. First three years used school's curriculum, imagining he'd one day go back. Each month life got happier and more learning was done.  He'd finish the traditional studies and then study things he loved. Younger ADD daughter joined us in third year. 

    Our house became filled with laughter and a love of learning. For us it was easier to take on the extra education work than fight the system and the other kids.

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  24. Aren't teachers taught how to effectively communicate with parents in a way that conveys collaboration and not judgement? Frankly, in my experience, it's a very rare teacher who conveys those skills.

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  25. My heart is breaking too. It shouldn't be this hard.

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  26. What a day. I would hug you if I could. I've missed a lot as I try to come out of my own abyss! Thinking of you and hugging you anyways. Hope you can feel it.

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  27. Hugs to you all.   Hang in there, lady.   Even though you can't take all the grenades for him, you do such an awesome job of helping him absorb the shocks.  Hugs, Hugs, Hugs!

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  28. This stuff was partly what drove us as a last resort into the world of home education. Most scary thing we've ever done and turned out to be best decision ever. Three years on...two happy AS boys, no homework fights, no bullying, no miserable sports lessons, no long distressing parent/teacher meetings...Not for everyone certainly, but working for us. 

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  29. So OK, while not a Mom, I still empathize with Jack and with you.  And, I can offer some off-the-wall ideas ... offering NO excuse for bullies; just hoping that maybe this isn't a permanent situation.  [I hate that I just said that, even while hoping it is true.]  
    First, fabulous that E is aware and looking out for Jack - just as you, and the rest of your family are, constantly.  There's a new movie about bullying.  Haven't seen it yet.  Hope it raises awareness - especially among the families whose children are abusive / bullies.  Except that they might not see the movie, b/c they don't understand the issue.  There I go again.  Anyway, I hope things improve for Jack.  

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  30. It's just so hard. isn't it?  I am so tired of all this type of stuff and I fear we are only just starting to deal with it.  So, so hard.  That's all I got today.  Sorry.

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  31. I'm sorry Jean!  I'm sending loads of hugs.  Hooray for great friends like E.  And hooray for learning the recorder! I hope Jack & I can play a duet one day :-)

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  32. While I'm not a Mom, I can definitely empathize.  It's good to hear that Jack's friends and family are looking out for him.
    fyi, WAMU is discussing bullying at 6PM Sunday [replay will be at wamu.org], and there is at least one new movie on the topic.  I'm just now listening to a replay of Diane Rehm's program on the topic.Let's hope that the media coverage will help to raise awareness, and to counter whatever cultural factors support this behavior.[btw, this might be a double-post.  I really like your new commenting system; however I did go back to edit an earlier commment.  For conciseness, ironically.]

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  33. Also, the Diane Rehm show is very distressing.  They did warn at the beginning of the show that this would be the case.  

    Diane Rehm's show is one of my favorites, btw.  

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  34. I"m so sorry Friday was so awful, but so glad you came out and (I hope) were able to forget about it for at least a few minutes.  and PS, I feel so honored to have met (and had my picture taken with!) Algernon! 

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  35. Oh that sucks!  But I hope you get to use this as ammunition and you win and get the better placement for Jack.  I had actually meant to ask you if you watch Parenthood and if you cry at Max's storyline.  (In my case, I cry at all the story lines, even when the character annoys me.)

    Glad to see you, and I hope it's not too long before I see you again!

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  36. That all sucks. This bullying crap breaks my heart. Jack deserves better from his peers.

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  37. This breaks my heart into a million pieces. It was hard enough being a kid WITHOUT special needs and having to deal with bullies...

    Sending you and Jack so much love....

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  38.  Oh, jeez, that sounds so terrible. Thank you for the encouragement and for you, I am so glad that you can say that it gets better, that you came through the other side. Your poor girl. I hate that she went through that.

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  39.  Homeschooling is definitely an option that I have in the back of my mind. It's definitely not my first choice, but if/when it seems to be the best option for Jack, I will...come to you for your curriculum. :)

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  40.  We've actually been very lucky with our teachers. On Friday it was mostly a matter of getting hit with it all one right after the other.

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  41.  Abyss, shabyss. We're fine. We're totally fine! No problems here!

    Love you.

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  42.  Thank you so much, Michal.

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  43.  That sounds kind of awesome, actually. That is definitely on my list of things to try, but for my sake, it might be at the end of the list. :)

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  44.  I know. I hate that this is something that all of our kids have to deal with. Hopefully our kids will get by without too many bruises, physical or otherwise. :(

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  45.  Jack would love that. Maybe Sam could join you.

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  46.  I missed the Diane Rehm show, but I am aware of that movie. I am both looking forward to and not so much looking forward to seeing it, but am eager to see if it has an impact. Something has to change.

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  47. I'm so glad I came out too, and it was so great to finally meet you in person!!

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  48.  I'm up and down on Parenthood, but I always watch. I was so happy to see you! Thank you for including me!

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  49. He totally does. Thank you so much.

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  50.  I know, right? I see Sam dealing with kids' behaviors and it is challenging for him too, but these special needs kids of ours feel so vulnerable.

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  51. I SO understand. It wasn't even ON our list!!  But the up side (and it's a biggy) is losing all those moments when you feel like you're being expected to apologise for your innocent child. I SO HATED that. From what I've read though, I have to say, (in my humble opinion) you sound like a natural home edd'er. You're pretty much doing it already! Jack is so lucky to have you and, home ed or not, you're such a fantastic advocate for him, and all our gorgeous AS sprogs. Good on ya, and thanks, all the way from sunny Scotland!!!

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  52. aimee @ smilingmamaMarch 19, 2012 at 9:54 AM

    1. UGH! KIDS SUCK! (other kids, that is!!!)

    2. Get Quinn a wind instrument stat! You still have time to put together a band for 4th of July parades :)

    3. Hugs.

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  53. I guess it's going around. Our kids really do have targets on their backs. Makes me so MAD.

    http://blogs.twincities.com/dailyjuggle/2012/03/16/bullied/ 

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  54. My third grader also ran into some issues early this year with inappropriate behavior based on things others told him to do.  For K-2 he had a wonderful girl in his class who used to shield him from some of this stuff, but she was not in his class this year.  (Still hopeful he will marry her though : ) )   

    Rather than try to explain the other kids motives because 1) he is a sweet boy and the concept would just be beyond him and 2) wanted him to worry more about his own beahvior than others--we just asked him to try and imagine how Mom and Dad would react if he did what those other kids were asking at home or out at a restaurant.  If we would not be happy then he should not do it.  While our kids cannot always put themselves in other people's shoes and predict feelings and reactions, like all kids they still have a pretty good barometer for what kind of behavior mom and dad are OK with.

    Good luck! My third grader plays a mean recorder, as well.

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  55.  Yeah, I could stand to avoid those moments. And I appreciate the encouragement in case I end up going that route!

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  56.  1. Totally.
    2. You're so right. Although I think he'd look cute with a tuba.
    3. Thank you.

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  57.  That's a good approach. Although it's hard enough sometimes to get him to behave appropriately when we're there, let alone when we're not! :)

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  58. i'm so, so sorry.  i often wish i could hire bodyguards for my kids.  wouldn't it be awesome to have someone like vin diesel beat up the kids who try to beat up yours (even if only verbally or emotionally)?

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  59. So hurtful.  I'm glad you at least had a good time with your friends.  It's hard being a mom.

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  60.  Thank you. And, yes, I'd take Vin Diesel to stand intimidatingly next to my kid. For sure.

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  61. I'm so glad you didn't cancel.

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  62. Stuff like that happens to Joseph too.  And sometimes I'm thankful that he doesn't realize kids are being mean but sometimes I'm PISSED that kids are being mean and he doesn't have the ability to recognize it.  (Mostly though Joseph has a wonderful school environment and I shouldn't complain about it but damn, I really hate kids sometimes.) Raising a kid with special needs comes it a particular joy/pain that you cannot understand unless you've been there. 

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