He Just Wants To Dance.
But It's Tradition, Dammit

The Worst Thing Ever That Actually Really Wasn't

I have been writing posts nonstop in my head since Friday -- nothing I ever intended to commit to the keyboard and publish, just a endless series of disjointed paragraphs that bounced from topic to topic and argued with straw men and imaginary bureaucrats. On and on, my brain kept going and talking and spinning. It kept me awake and anxious at night and distracted and disconnected during the day -- all the signs of an obviously superior coping mechanism.

Those of you who follow my sporadic dispatches over at Twitter probably Know Of What I Speak.

Here, like a Band-Aid: On Friday, Noah's teacher unleashed a long litany of behavior complaints at me, many of which I was hearing for the first time, others which I thought were already being addressed, all of which together painted a very bleak picture of an overwhelmed, uncontrollable child with no attention span who simply could not function in the classroom. A child whose continued enrollment in the school was in serious jeopardy and was on a one-way track to being dismissed from the school.

Here, like a bottle of alcohol emptied on the open wound underneath the Band-Aid: Expelled. From preschool. Merry fucking Christmas! Epic parenting FAIL1!!1

Of course, I did exactly what any capable parent would do in that situation: I burst into tears, and then came home and spent the next 60 hours of my life freaking the royal fuck out.

I called the school district and formerly requested a new evaluation. I called the private speech center that I'd contacted several weeks ago and got a little screechy about how long I've been waiting for a therapist to call me and schedule THAT evaluation. I called some smaller, more specialized preschools and nearly threw up when I heard the tuition rates. We talked about moving. I emailed everybody I ever talked to at Early Intervention to see if there was any way they could help speed up the process of getting back into our current county's system. We purged our house of extra cluttered toys and distractions and outlined a plan for improving his attention span and adding more structure at home. I called my mom and whimpered that I just wanted someone to tell me what I should do-o-o, I'm not smart enough for th-i-i-i-s, why can't I figure out how to fix my ba-a-a-by.

On Sunday, we attended a preschool classmate's birthday party at one of those kiddie gym places. Despite giving Noah a pre-party briefing that rivaled most military operations, it did not go well. He was indeed, as usual, overwhelmed by the group, terrified of the organized games and activities, melted down at every single transition or whenever something happened that he had not been prepared for. (I spent a lot of time talking about how he would be asked to leave the play area and eat birthday cake, since that caused a lot of woe at the LAST birthday party we attended, but forgot to mention the possibility that someone might dare put a slice of PIZZA in front of him BEFORE the birthday cake was served, and Oh. My. Fucking. God.)

Jason and I were exhausted and heartsick by the end of the party -- Jason mumbled something about taking equity out of our house to pay for one of those special preschools, and since I could no longer even attempt to keep up a happy social party face, I broke down and shared what the teacher had said to me with a couple other mothers. Who then shared a few anecdotes of their own and stories they'd learned from previous years' families that painted a picture of a teacher who maaaaaybe gets a little crazy by December and maaaaaaybe a little dramatic about things and maaaaaybe I should go talk to the principal myself before, you know, losing my shit too spectacularly.

So...long story short, I saw the school's principal today, whose jaw dropped to the floor when I repeated what had been said to me, because: no. Not even. Noah is most definitely not at all in danger of expulsion. Never has been. The whole thing was a case of a preschool teacher gone rogue, off the rails, whatever. The principal has observed Noah many times, and she's never seen anything remotely close to the kind of behavior his teacher was describing or at the level where they'd start considering dismissal. He wanders away from the group when he is bored. He prefers one-on-one direction to large group free-for-all projects. He is easily agitated by transitions and easily distracted by everything in the world. Also, you know, he is THREE. 

There IS a child in his class who is causing the teachers and the school a lot of problems (pushing, hitting, using not-so-very-nice words), and Noah and I may have simply gotten caught up in a teacher's Terrible Horrible Not So Good Very Bad Day, and maybe she just really needs her holiday break.  And then the principal and I had a long talk about Sensory Processing Disorder and brainstormed some additional strategies that could be used to keep Noah with the group and help him through transitions.

Of course...I'm not an idiot. The behavior at Sunday's birthday party alone is enough for us to realize that yes, Noah most definitely needs some help. The truth, as usual, lies somewhere in between Early Intervention assuring us that Everything Is Just Fine!! and his teacher telling us that Everything Is Just Terrible!! I am still anxious to get him re-evaluated. I am still exploring other preschool options, because GODDAMN.

But at least now I can go back to making up imaginary conversations between my deodorants in the middle of the night instead. So...back to normal! Hooray!

Comments

baseballmom

That sucks that the teacher is taking her frustrations out on Noah. I worked in a preschool for 12 years, and we were always told to leave our problems at the door when we came to work, and let the director handle any serious problems/parent contact. I'd wonder if she was the best teacher for him, maybe they have another one?

Deb

Oh, Amy -

Hugs to you, Jason, Noah and Ez.

Hang in there. You are a great mom. The boys are SO lucky to have you.

Merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years to the Storch family.

Megan

Wait. Isn't this the teacher who was like "Yeah, my kid had the same thing, so I know what you're going through"? If so...I just might implode on your behalf.

Kari

Yeah, I've been there. Except my kid actually did get expelled: from preschool and from kindergarten. But - whew! - I survived, and so did he.

(It was your support during the kindergarten expulsion that made me blush with happiness since so many people came to support me during my freakout after you posted about my son.)

You're on top of it. So even if "the worst" happens, you'll be fine. (And of course I'll be available for pow-wow if it comes to that. Which it won't.)

I am glad to hear that it might be the teacher that has the Overstimulation and Impulse-Control Issues, a concept which makes me laugh because those folks should try looking in a mirror. Indeed, I'd be a rich lady if I got a penny for every time some (adult) person lost their shit because my (not an adult)son was unable to contain his.

Still, it is the hardest place to be between the "obviously qualifies for EI" versus "totally, awesomely fine."

It is tough to have a child who is so incredibly great like Noah, and yet who needs a little help in coping with his surroundings.

Environment is everything. But it is also important to remember what you and the commenters have pointed out repeatedly: he is THREE. He isn't going to be some perfect person all the time because he is a kid working out how to react to his environment. I wish schools would realize this.

XOXOXOXOXOXOXO.

Scott

Forgive me for prying, but Noah's behavior at the party is similar to mine, at his age. I'm 42, and I've had mental illness all my life (it's inherent). As a child, I was always in my own world, and did not know how to relate to other children. I was very intelligent, but spent most of my time in my head. I could relate very well with adults, and was quite mature, in that sense. But my schoolmates just thought I was weird; whenever I did try to interact with them, I said or did inappropriate or unusual things.

I didn't know I had mental illness until I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital, at age 19. Since then I've been diagnosed with almost everything. But my current psychiatrist suspects that I have autistic spectrum disorder.
My primary illness is--and always has been--obsessive compulsive disorder. But it is clear to me that my secondary disorder is autistic spectrum disorder. This disorder is NOT autism, though it's related to it.


Tina C.

you guys aren't that far from Kennedy Kreiger, where they, like, invented dealing with this stuff. why don't you come up here for an evaluation, and hear it from the source once and for all? http://www.kennedykrieger.org/

Minjenah

Amy,

I am so sorry that the teacher said that to you. She really needs to be spoken to by the principal. Noah is three years old. Three year olds have the attention span of three year olds. I am sending you awesome thoughts for the holiday.

Minjenah

Katie

My jaw dropped when I read what the teacher was saying about Noah because he has NEVER come across that way in any of your posts. I'm so glad that my first reaction of "no way!" was right and that it is just a stupid teacher. You do what you have to do with evals and therapy--and we'll all be here to listen and support!

Kristren

I read your blog all the time but rarely comment. I had to delurk on this one. Your son sounds so much like my own. A quirky smattering of sensory issues, along with a short attention span. I know just what you mean about trying to find the balance between aging out of Early Intervention, but not quite being ready for regular preschool. We attended my son's preschool holiday concernt the other day and, holy shit, my kid was THAT KID. Squirming all over the risers, nearly knocking over other children, and requiring an aide to redirect him through the whole ordeal. I was mortified.

Sorry you are going through this too. At least you have the principal to be the voice of reason here.

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