going to Kindergarten

21 01 2010

So, remember the whole purple handprint on Chickpea’s face thing I talked about last week?

Well, all week we’ve been “following up” on that. It turns out it was the kid who sits across from her in class (who all sit right next to alleged broken computer) was the one that slapped her.  Now, did she start the fight or get in her own hits?  Probably.  I know my child and she’s a ninja.

I’ve talked to the vice principal, emailed back and forth with the teacher, cc’d the entire crew (teachers, vp, principal, Shaun) and finally the teacher said that maybe I should come visit the classroom.  The time she picked was the EXACT time that the bell rings at LJ’s school to let out and wouldn’t I like to help with the pinata party?

Let’s take a time out right here.

1.  Ms. Teacher Lady knows I have 3 kids in 2 different schools because the school A goes to can’t support LJ’s special needs.

2.  Even though A does not need the same therapeutic needs as LJ, she’s still classified as handicapped and we have a dietary order in place as well as a safety plan just in case she has a flashback.

3.  Dietary needs = very low sugar because something in the sugar seems to trigger the part of her brain that thinks she’s starving.  Seriously, 1 bite of cake triggers hoarding and stealing so we have to be sure that if she gets sweets, she’s supervised and monitored very, very closely.  Since snack time is literally 10 minutes before they get out of school, I asked that I just be allowed to feed her at home and that they give her computer time or library time.

4.  The teacher and I do respect each other but we have a few problems with communication.  I don’t speak a lot of Spanish and she doesn’t speak a lot of English.  Secondary to that, we have cultural and generational… challenges.

5.  I’m special needs myself.  I pretty much can’t plan when I’m either going to have a bad pain day or a bad OCD day.

OK, time back in.

I have QUESTIONS.

1.  What’s in that pinata?  I know how this works – kids smack something with a stick and candy rains down on them.

2.  How does this sound like a good idea?  Let’s put 30 kindergartners in a small room with a paper mache animal, a stick, and tons of candy.  Then, let’s put my daughter in the middle of it.  I know how this story ends – the pinata breaks, kids rush in, my daughter grabs the stick and starts smacking kids to stuff the pockets of her uniform full of candy.

3.  How are we going to talk while all this is going on?

It turned out not to matter because I ended up hitting a 10 on the pain scale that day and I laid in the bed and tried to breathe very slowly.  So, Shaun went.

He said it went well – that the teacher had apple slices for Chickpea laid out next to the snacks and that the pinata had toys in it as well so he was able to confiscate the sugar.  Afterwards, they talked and when I was finally able to understand what they had talked about, I decided I probably did need to go in and talk to her myself because I had questions and apparently she doesn’t like email.  (That’s fine, I don’t like people so we’re even.)

The first thing I caught upon was that I wonder if they really think parents LOOK at their children’s report cards.  I know that when I sat behind a desk for a living that we pretty much assumed no one read their email, so I’m guessing they were really surprised that Chickpea HAD gotten in trouble over her report card.

The main point I wanted to address was not so much that she had gotten into a fight but that her response was to automatically accuse me of it.  We’ve been thinking for a while that there’s some sort of attachment disorder going on and she has been bringing up lately that I’m her 8th Mommy.  So, while I understand kids scuffle at school and really don’t care – I do need to know if she’s saying stuff like this so we can address it with her psychiatrist and therapist.

I still haven’t recovered from sitting in the lobby of a “mental health hospital” with a suicidal 4 year old after a very under-trained caseworker set off a series of flashbacks which ended up in her being sedated (because the hospital was full) and an investigation into our home.  It finally ended when I broke the chain of command within the system and wrote to the Governor himself.

You want to talk about the worst few weeks of my life?  I’d rather have an epic migraine.  So when I talk to the school about needing to report stuff like this, I’m not over-reacting.  I’m taking preventative measures. Besides, they say they’re very well versed in how to deal with children from foster care (such as incident reports, etc…) so not reporting this kind of bruise to me or Shaun is startling.  We’re finalized, so while we don’t need the form filled out, a phone call would be nice.  Ya know?

Anyways, back on track – yesterday was a fairly good day as far as my pain level goes so I figure I’ll drop in and help out with snack time and talk to the teacher.  I take time to look semi-grown up – I have on jeans and a t-shirt that has a cute cartoon on it.  I’m wearing make-up and jewelry and my hair is up in barrettes.  I give the boys both a sucker so their hands and mouths will be occupied.

The teacher is out sick, lo and behold, gone for her pre-op appt and the class have a very young substitute and a male volunteer, also very young.  Chickpea has a bag of animal crackers and is stuffing them in her face so fast the first glimpse I see of her she looks like a chipmunk.

I force the smiles even though the back of my head is going WTFWTFWTFWTF like a choo choo train and we sat in the back of the classroom while they wrapped up their day.

I sat in the back of the classroom and had an epiphany.

My child is not the problem child in her classroom.  There are about 8 other kids in there who were actively being bad as fuck while the rest of the kids were somewhere between doing what they were supposed to do and wandering aimlessly.

One of the kids is at the whiteboard pounding on it yelling “I want to watch the pirate video!”  One says to another “holy shit, that lady has tattoos and that means she’s dangerous.”  The other says “nuh uh, stupid.”  Three are spazzing out like crackheads in the middle of the room.

Then the bell rang and everyone started lining up in the hallways to go to the buses, after school, or car rider lanes and the scene is exactly like the fire drill scene in Kindergarten Cop.

Actually, it was a lot like Kindergarten Cop.

This may explain our communication differences quite well.  I tend to not like movies where kids act like little shits (Parenthood, Home Alone, That Rotten Little Fuck that Vomitted on the Carnival Ride) so I’m totally expecting too much from my personal little shits.

In comparison, mine are qualifying for sainthood.

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IEPs, EKGs, pre-ops and pre-school

12 08 2009

I finally figured out how to use RSS feeds and it’s great stuff!  My brain is so off right now. Thank God for Google making everything easier.

The pre-op appt with my primary care doctor went fine yesterday.  My pulse was high (105) which is normal for me.  My BP was so low the machine couldn’t read it, which is normal for me.  I weighed in at 129 lbs which is NOT NORMAL for me.  That’s about 10 lbs heavier than normal.  My EKG was fine and just showed the high pulse – which was normal for me.  So, the only thing that was worrisome is my weight and that’s probably from the endo and the fibroma that the ultrasound tech inflamed.  Dr. H said she’d send all her recommendations to the surgeon and said that I may need to spend some extra time on IV antibiotics just so we don’t have to worry about endocarditis.   My mom had endocarditis last year and that was SCARY.

This morning I walked out of the bedroom – in freaking huge amounts of pain – in search of coffee before the kids got up.  All the kids were up though – and both boys immediately said “Alyssa is stealing food and it’s all under the couch.”  She had eaten 3 peanut and granola bars, a box of raisins, and hidden several other granola bars and snacks under the couch.  She not only had the evidence all over her and caked in her teeth, but told me that she did not do it – that it was Ethan who did it all.  LJ said “that’s a lie.  She was trying to force Ethan to eat some raisins.”  I checked E out and he had minty fresh toothpaste breath and so did LJ.  Grrrrr….

None of us got much sleep last night due to the storms and power outages so everyone was cranky this morning.  E just got sent back to bed for throwing the mother of all tantrums, of all things, so I’m thinking I’m going to take a nap too.  It was so adorable last night.  I walked in with the flashlight to check on the babies and Alyssa had shot straight up out of bed.  She says in her little pumpkin voice “Mommy, I’m scared of lightning.”  She came out to the couch and laid down in between me and Shaun and went right to sleep.  She had her head on Daddy’s lap and her feet snuggled up to Mommy and apparently that’s all it takes to make lightning irrelevant.  I held the flashlight in between my knees and kept crocheting.  I finished another washcloth and have been working on some dish towels to match.  When the power came back on, we were able to get A back to bed and I was able to go to bed too.

So, this morning I had to go meet with the school because they were offering food as rewards in her classroom and had basically told me I couldn’t regulate what she ate there.  I was going to let it go yesterday, but she’s not acting with her brain right now.  This is pure instinct.  I spoke with the school vice principal and it went so well.  Not only can I regulate her diet, I can VERY specifically regulate it.  We have an IEP (individual education plan) set up for Monday so that the school psychologist, the counselor, the principal and vice principal and her teachers all agree – in writing – to meet certain goals.  I also let the vp know that I didn’t think the teachers and lunch room manager had taken me seriously when I talked to them last week.  She HAS to be watched at all times.  We are under a 24/7 safety plan with her because she self-harms.  If she can’t stuff her face, she pulls out hair and cuts herself.  She lies like she breathes and people fall all over themselves to give her things.

They see an adorable little 5 year old.  They don’t see how scared she is that she’s going to be rejected, hurt, beaten, sexually abused, and starved.  They don’t see that she’s had to build up these defenses just to survive and that we’re working every single day to build trust and reassurance that she’s safe.  So, the vice principal understood and I told her that I have all the documentation they need to keep the school covered to follow what I’m asking for.  That we need to make sure that she knows that school isn’t a different “life” than home – that school and home co-exist and the rules don’t change.  They need to make sure that every word and action she sees (she is hyper-vigilant about observing people) reinforces the therapy plan that’s in place.  Right now, they’re thinking we’re way too strict.  Most people do.    They don’t realize the safety the kids get from knowing the steadfast rules and routines.  I have letters from therapists and psychologists, letters from doctors from Emory, years of reports and information, safety plans… we’re trained to be strict because that’s what the kids need.

We weren’t able to get E into a public pre-K (that I approved of) this year so he’s on a waiting list at the same school Alyssa is going to.  Until then, I’m the pre-k teacher!  It’s a good thing I bought the curriculum last year when A was having so many troubles in pre-K that we had to take her out.  He’s so angry that he’s not going to school this year so it may be hit and miss with getting him to sit down for a structured “class time. ”  I have yet to be successful at it but I’ll keep trying.  He already knows all the stuff anyways, he just plays dumb to see if people are paying attention.

Oh well, in 8 days, it will be Mom’s problem to play pre-K teacher and taxi driver.  She raised me and my siblings successfully so she’ll fit right in to the role.  She told me last time she watched the kids “they don’t listen very well.”  That’s crazily funny because they listen 100x better than normal kids – even better than my nephew who lives in her house.  It’s just they aren’t military brats like we were.  From the moment of birth, we knew you not only accepted the routine and chain of command, but thought it was the most natural thing on earth.

It will be interesting and fun to watch.  I’ll have to charge up the video camera and see how she handles it.  She still thinks I’m nuts for adopting three kids – but then again, if you mention her 3 kids, she gets this terrified look on her face and says “I never planned that.”   It’s great fun because she’s so incredibly good at being a mom – she just has no patience for being challenged as alpha female and she’s probably the most stubborn woman on the planet.  I was informed (yes, informed) yesterday that I was going to bring the kids to church after Amber’s birthday party because they were having a puppet show.  I asked if it was going to be one of those creepy “sin and you go to HELL” puppet shows and she said she didn’t know, she just wanted her grandbabies there.  She wants to show them off but she’s too stubborn to admit that she’s super-proud of them.  It’s so damn cute!