19 March 2013

Sigh. Here We Go Again.

The Captain and I make beautiful babies. Our sparkling, freshwater springs of DNA have blessed the boys with strong features, quick wits, kind hearts, and height possessed by neither of their progenitors. On occasion, however, some recessive, murky backwater seeps in and contaminates those pristine pools, producing a brackish blend of what I call "addict genes."

Thankfully, thus far the "addict genes" have yet to produce an actual addict. Time will tell. But the genes are diverse multi-taskers. They've conspired to place One and Four on the autism spectrum, which comes with its own subset of anxiety and depression. Three skipped the spectrum but kept the anxiety, with a side of ADHD. Two managed to elude the genes altogether; my guess is they're quick and crafty and, therefore, had no patience for his supremely chill demeanor. The Captain and I had our fingers crossed for Five, who always seemed a little nervous but was managing to hold it together these past nine years.

Our digits are undone.

Five is in third grade, which has been the academic year that breaks my boys. The workload increases dramatically, the standardized testing begins, and social awareness blossoms. Throw in a mean lunch aide, an unresponsive school nurse, and a  ridiculous punitive behavior modification tool and even the strongest sink under the pressure. Even Two missed twenty Mondays his third grade year because it took three days for him to recover from each school week.

Five finally lost his grip on mental stability while I was away in Arizona. He forgot to bring back his "Friday Folder," which is a communication tool between the school and home. This resulted in his third "check" for the month, which qualified him for M.A.P--Modified Activity Playtime. Every child over the age of seven knows this really means detention, because its practical application is loss of recess.

Let me break it down, as the rappers would say: If my nine year-old forgets his homework or a folder three times in one month, he has to spend the twenty minutes of free time he gets in a seven hour day, the twenty minutes when he can run and play and yell with his friends, inside in detention. I'm sorry--inside in Modified Activity Playtime.

This exercise in bullshit is explained by the school as skill-building, to help the children learn responsibility. Clearly, no one involved in creating this crap is a parent to a teenage boy or they would realize the futility of their endeavor.

So, my Five has spent several days with me at home in the past two weeks, unable to overcome his anxiety and make his way into school. I know where this path leads.  One missed four months of seventh grade and Three was home for more than that in fifth.

I'm tired of this district crushing the souls of my children. Five spent most of yesterday crying about how he can't take it anymore, he's so angry he never wants to go back, and if things don't get better he's going to die. This is the quote I will share with the principal when the Captain and I meet with him on Thursday.

The whole thing makes me mad enough to consider home-schooling, which I know stems from a place of love but is insane, because I'm not exactly in my right head these days, either. But that's a post for another day. There is a glimmer of hope, though, because Five is very articulate and willing to speak with someone who might be able to help him. We see the therapist next week.

The Captain and I have re-crossed our fingers.

25 comments:

  1. The "logic" behind that policy astounds me. Don't these people read any of the current research on education? It's becoming abundantly clear that kids need more recess to learn more efficiently, not less and certainly not none.

    Sending good thoughts for your meeting on Thursday and hugs for you, the Captain, and especially Five.

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    1. Thanks, Michelle. In my kinder, gentler moments I understand the pressure teachers are under to keep their students up to date with the curriculum, and how their day might not allow for a lot of downtime. Most of the time, however, I just can't believe they don't see the damage they're doing.

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  2. My "One" got in trouble for fighting in middle school. (You know him to be an athletic but gentle-hearted person). It seemed like boys wrestling to me. Boys who at that age are about to crawl out their skin with energy and who, thanks to block scheduling, were expected to spend entire school days without any physical activity. Lunch was 20 minutes for eating followed by 20 minutes of DEAR (drop everything and read). And when I explained the lunacy of this to the (highly paid) assistant principal, she seemed startled by the suggestion that children need to move!

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    1. I am at the point where, if you cannot prove you are the mother or father of a boy, your opinion doesn't count. Girl and boy brains are different. Teaching is a matriarchal profession, which I think creates an anti-boy bias.

      Years ago I had a meeting with the superintendent and principal about Four. I quoted research that said children need to move every fifteen minutes. They said, "We can't do that. We'd never get anything done." Why can't they be more creative?

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  3. The longer my experience with education, both as a mother and as a school employee, the more I think the system is broken. Also our current mode of education was developed to churn out factory workers - not many of those around these days.

    What the world needs now is creative thinkers who are able to solve problems and create things in non-traditional ways, but we are still churning out factory workers. Grrr.

    Most schools aren't even teaching coding - the one skill they are almost certain to need in our brave new world of online EVERYTHING!

    Both my boys are very unhappy in our school, and didn't get into the private school they applied to. I'm not sure what we'll do with them now. I'm not looking forward to four more years of the same old same old.

    My heart goes out to you and five. I've been witnessing these breakdowns in my own home for years now. (My boys are in 9th grade.) I'm ashamed to say they are still in the same school simply because I don't know what else to do with them.

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    1. It's really hard when you don't have options. Or, there are options but you don't have the resources. Maybe your boys don't have to stay there another four years if you find another school or maybe they can reapply? Or perhaps when they get older they can take classes at a college? We have that option here for our high schoolers because we have a nearby county college. Hugs for you all.

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  4. It just sucks. I'm sorry. Sending FGBVs for all of you.

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    1. Thanks, Karen. It's just so heart-wrenching to see Five in so much pain. I've promised him there won't be any more M.A.P in his life, so I'm hoping that will relieve some of it.

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  5. Move next door to me NOW. Lilo's teacher requires them to write their name on the board if they miss homework. To lose a recess they have to do something ACTUALLY bad like hit or call names. If they get busted in a lie they have to take home a sentence that says, "I got caught fibbing today." So far, Imma love my kids school with a great strong love. There is a house in my neighborhood for sale ...

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    1. I feel this way about Four's private school. They do a few things differently than I would, but to see the kids happy and successful outweighs that. The teachers seem to really understand and care about the kids, which is not always the case in the public school.

      I would move if I could, but the Captain's job doesn't allow for telecommuting. Yet.

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  6. There are no words strong enough to describe how I detest the breaking of children's will and turning them off to learning. Just no words...
    Sent from your special education school administrator cousin. XXOO

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    1. I have words, but they're unprintable in a family publication such as this.

      Can't we clone you and make you the administrator for all the schools?

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  7. Yeah these kinds of things are why I'm so glad my daughter homeschools.

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    1. I wish I could figure it out, JJJ, but I haven't been able to justify it yet. So, we'll fight instead to make his school better, not just for him but all the other kids affected as well.

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  8. Oh honey can I please just have him moved to my classroom? We laid on the floor and army crawled in the middle of a worksheet today. We do jumps and squats when we guess our number of the day. We sit on our desks with clipboards. We clap and stomp. And we sure as hell do not miss recess unless there is a huge mother of a problem. If we "miss" it's because we have to walk laps during recess. Depriving them of activity? Como se dice counterproductive?

    I've gotten shit from more than one parent for NOT taking his/her child's recess because I think the kids need a break from me and from those four walls. You know, fresh air is a good thing and Betty and I are famous for taking the kids outside unless icicles actively form on our faces because a cold kid is better than a stifled one.

    Good on you for the therapist. Boo on the school.

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    1. Right? I can only speak about my boys, who need to move even as teenagers. Incidentally, when you get to high school here there is no recess or real break in the block scheduling (88 minutes in each class). And Three's teachers wonder why he can't focus.

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  9. PS I quit taking away anything based on homework or notes that weren't turned in because (and don't take this like I'm judging you)...my kiddos aren't in charge of that stuff. They don't have a lot of control about that so it's more a parent thing than a student thing.

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    1. Exactly! I don't know how they can hold the nine year-old responsible! Or even the Captain who was doing my job while I was in Arizona and forgot to slip the damn folder back in his bookbag. Sheesh.

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  10. What Bobbi said. Except for the admin and cousin part.

    Also, I know. We went through so VERY much with our beautiful and empathic Empress. You know how well she's turning out, so.....
    there's your HOPE for today.

    (Hug him for me, please. And the Captain, too.)

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    1. I know it will get better, because One and Three are doing great. One's in county college, and Three didn't miss a day of school last year. I'm just fucking pissed I have to talk to fight with these idiots AGAIN.

      Hugs have been distributed. Now I'll go give another, for good luck.

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  11. OK, this is one thing that's better in montana. :-) hope you kicked their asses on Thursday-- let us know what happened (sorry for delayed comment I was out of internet range several days last week and am still catching up)

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    1. O, Montana! I hear you calling my name!

      The conference went well. We told the principal and teacher they couldn't give him checks any more. I dare them to defy me. He's still struggling, but I'll write a proper follow-up soon.

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  12. Poor Five. Fingers crossed for him. :(

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    1. Thanks, Delia. Mine, too.

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  13. Hugs to you. The shit hit the fan here in third grade, too. What's up with that?

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