My son is a pretty typical 7 year old. He attends a typical elementary school in an upper middle class suburban neighborhood. He is funny, kind, intelligent and cute. He is also well behaved and conscientious. He is one of my only children to escape the effects of drug and alcohol exposure before birth. He is reliable and responsible, most of the time. The hidden part of his character is his frightening past. Bouncing from home to home for the first two years of his life caused him to acquire some inappropriate coping mechanisms. One of the things he struggles with the most is imitating the inappropriate behaviors of others.These defensive and somewhat manipulative behaviors have to be stopped immediately and redirected so that my son can thrive in all types of settings.
As the mom of 8 children from difficult places, I have struggled with inappropriate responses by others toward my special needs children. Here is what this teacher did right.
I was mindlessly wandering through the isles of Best Buy when the phone call came in. I might add that I hate all electronic stores with a passion. I feel like they suck the oxygen out of the air. I had come in for a new landline phone and now my brain was barely working. My purse began to shake and sing with the sound that every mother fears is bad news. I dug my phone out while I motioned for my daughter to tear herself away from a display of mini iPads. One look at the caller id confirmed the truth…it was the elementary school.
As I answered the phone I escaped the confines of the electronics store and gulped the oxygen that had been withheld from my lungs. My brain began working again. It was my 2nd graders’ teacher. He started the conversation cautiously. I allowed him to talk. My end of the conversation consisted of a lot of “I see” and “I understand.” The teacher was describing my son rolling on the floor, smirking at authority, elbowing fellow classmates, falling out of his chair and disrespecting staff and other students during the first week of school.
The pinnacle of this embarrassing story was when the teacher found out that my son had been dumping his home packed lunch and receiving a 2nd lunch at no charge from a sweet lunch lady who pitied him. He explained that he had already called my son’s former 1st grade teacher to see how he might best work with my son. He then opened the door to hear my thoughts.
To say the least, I was impressed. In the past we have struggled with adults who react to our children out of pity or an assumption that they know the whole story. We have had Sunday School teachers afraid to tattle on the preacher’s kid. Coaches who balk at the idea that we would make our child skip a game because of behavior. Teachers who attribute an unusual behavior to poor parenting.
My son’s teacher was doing what I believe to be the most important thing. Communicating! I was able to share a little about my son’s past. We were able to talk about how these inappropriate coping mechanisms were harming my son’s progress. I was able to share that my son does not have any unusual sensory needs and should never be rolling on the floor or falling out of his chair. We were able to compare notes with last year’s teacher and devise a plan to help my son choose appropriate behavior.
I promised 3 things, so here they are:
What are some ways your child’s teachers, coaches or instructors have supported your parenting?