Ut-oh… my first rant on FtB. I try to keep my thoughts well-organized and triple-revised, but this one came straight from the belly.
I received an email from Finn’s teacher yesterday saying that he’s been sticking his tongue out lately, and she’s been putting him in time-out for this “bad habit,” and wondered if I had any insight as to why he might have started doing this. I sort of brushed it off as a non-issue. It’s a tongue.
She also left a note in his notebook that we send back and forth in his backpack to let us know that she’s putting him in two-minute time-outs to “deter” this behavior. Karin and I sort of laughed at this. She’s kind of old-school, and obviously sees this as rude or disrespectful behavior.
Could we grow some thicker skin, please? How about the concept of redirection over reprimand? I mean, have you met Finn? He’s not really socially appropriate. This is a kid who poops in his pants and doesn’t blink an eye. He hits other kids on the head. He used to scream in church when his grandparents would take him. And we’re talking, all-out, fearful screaming here.
And yet, his teacher acts like she knows him better than I do. Conferences with her are somewhat condescending. She likes to instruct me on how to deal with him at home. I get that we should be working together to reinforce skills between home and school. Generalization and all that. But she’ll tell me things like, “you need to be tough with him,” and, “he’s a manipulator,” essentially implying that I coddle him.
I have to say I’m tired of teachers acting like they know my kid better than I do. Granted, you’ve been teaching longer than I’ve been parenting, but who’s spent more time with Finn?
And here’s the other thing: Finn has oral motor control issues. Hello? I am not going to discourage any new developments regarding the use of his tongue. He can stick his tongue out ’til the cows come home, or until it leads to some other new oral-motor functioning. Maybe his SLP should step in here…
She’s not super condescending, but there seems to be a presupposition that I give my kid too much slack and I’m not tough enough with him, somehow implying that I don’t see his full potential or something. I’m not sure what the implication is, really, but as a parent, I can say that it doesn’t feel good.
Last week, Finn had some diarrhea, so they needed me to pick him up. I used my lunch break plus another hour of personal time to pick him up, take him home to Karin (we only have one car right now), and drive back to work. School “policy” (although I have yet to find any such policy in writing) is that a kid can only return to school after they’ve been free of symptoms for 24 hours. Is that even legal? Access to free and equal education and all that? They want to send him home every time he’s got a little bit of thicker snot coming out of his nose. Don’t you have two paras in that room? Ever hear of hand soap? Hand sanitizer?
Anyway, I picked him up from school last week because he pooped his pants. And when he saw me, per usual, he started to scream and cry. See, Finn has an issue with blending his worlds. When he sees me at his school, it freaks him out a little bit. He doesn’t modulate emotions well. I usually give him a minute to recover (without coddling him) by saying, “It’s OK, Finn. Shake it off.” And we’ll literally do a shake. This usually works for Finn without being harsh or dismissive. It’s a handy way for him to recover from a potential melt-down.
As I do this, a routine that has proven to be effective time and time again, his teacher puts her hand on my arm, gesturing that I should step away from the child. It’s as if to say, “you don’t know what you’re doing. Please don’t coddle this manipulative child.” I didn’t move right away, but I’m not one to immediately react to something like this. I give it a minute then (usually) speak rationally about it. I don’t fly off the handle every time somebody says or does something dumb or inappropriate. If I did, people would look at me like they do Gary Busey. Gives you that sexual feelin’!
Eventually, I do move away because I have to sign him out. She immediately steps in and says, “Finn, cut it out!” I’m thinking, could you give the kid a break? He’s already been chastised, I’m sure, about crapping his drawers. Let me spend 30 seconds with him to help him calm himself down. Instead, you take this as an opportunity to educate me as a parent. Thanks.
This is the only teacher in the district for Finn’s age and type/level of disability. She’s probably close to retirement, but I don’t think she has any plans to retire. That means Finn will have her for at least one more year. I don’t hate her or anything; I just think she’s very old-school.
I hope no one was hurt by the sight of my kid’s tongue.
Ranting from the bungalow,
P.S. Now that I’ve gotten my thoughts out, I’ll be sure to send a carefully and kindly worded email to his teacher about it. But have any of you had to deal with dumb stuff like this?
5/7/11 Update: Here is the note his teacher wrote in his communications notebook:
“I don’t think Finn thinks it’s a game here. He seems to know we are not happy. Even before he gets off the bus he is doing it to Mrs. E******. Making faces is one think [sic], but just sticking out your tongue at adults is another. We have explained this to Finn. I have another child that tries it too and Finn has seen our reaction in the past. :(“