Monday, October 29, 2007

Bullshit

I have officially lost my cool. I just yelled at F’s teacher.

Actually, I really screamed at her. LOUD. With everything I had.

I’m still trying to work out if I’ve lost my mind, too. I don’t think I have though. I think that everything I did this afternoon, bar the actual moment where I screamed at the teacher that she was talking BULLSHIT, was fair enough.

I sent F and his friend L to the oval to kick the footy and play while I spoke to the teacher. She didn’t look pleased when I walked in.

**

‘So, how did you go today?’
‘I’ve spoken to the boys involved, and F was at fault, too.’
‘Uh huh.’
‘He snatched the football from the other boy and kicked it.’
‘Yes, he shouldn’t have done that. But W still shouldn’t have hit him.’
‘He hit him with a flat hand.’ She demonstrates, holding up an open palm. ‘Like this.’
‘So? He still shouldn’t have hit him.’
‘Well, maybe F shouldn’t have BULLIED him.’

I am a little shocked. I don’t think a boy snatching the footy from his friend classifies as bullying. I’ve seen those kids on the footy oval (and in my backyard). Yes, F shouldn’t have snatched the footy, but it hardly classifies as bullying.

‘You still don’t hit someone’ I say. ‘You don’t respond with violence no matter what.’
‘He’s a PREP,’ the teacher sneers.
‘So? I don’t care. I don’t want anybody hitting my son, whether they’re a Prep or not.’
She rolls her eyes.
‘I should have been told about this. I spoke to my mother this morning. She’s a teacher. She says that schools are supposed to have policies about what to do when children are hit in the head. That would mean telling the parents.’
She is silent for a moment, obviously taken aback.
‘F and A were interrupting my class, talking about this on Thursday. They were being disruptive. I don’t handle disruption in my class.’ (Freudian slip? I think she meant to say ‘don’t tolerate’.)

‘F has had a very tough week, which is why I’d especially think you should have told me rather than me hear it from him. He’s had a very tough week emotionally.’
She ROLLS HER EYES. I see red.
‘You’re saying he didn’t have an emotionally tough week?’
‘I don’t think so,’ she drawls.

This is where the yelling comes in.

‘You don’t think so?! We have had a tough week! He has just learnt that he has Asperger’s. It has been a very tough week emotionally for both of us. How dare you tell me that MY CHILD has not had an emotional week? What do you know? I have seen him vomit when he got back from the doctor’s, I have seen him cry like I haven’t seen him cry in ages. He has been sick. Don’t you dare tell me ...’
I step backwards towards the doorway.

‘Don’t you yell at me’ she says.
‘You know what? I don’t want to talk to you.’

I turn to leave. At the door, I swing around and scream, really scream:

‘That is BULLSHIT!’

And I storm across the schoolyard, past F’s friend’s mother, talking to a cluster of other parents. I’m not ready to collect the boys. I feel like I am having a nervous breakdown. I still want to yell and scream. I have had enough.

**

My feet take me to the school office, where I pace up and down in front of the empty principal’s office. A few students loll on the new plastic lounge chairs outside the office. The school secretary’s glass window is empty, too. A young male teacher in a tracksuit is talking to a mother. I hear her say she is waiting for the Deputy Principal (also in charge of ‘special needs’). I start to leave, then return. I pace in front of the staff room, then back to the office. I hover. I am literally shaking with anger.

People are eyeing me cautiously.

‘Are you looking for someone?’
‘Oh, um, yes, but I think she might be looking for her too, so I’ll go.’ I wave at the woman who waiting when I arrived.
‘No, I’ll get her,’ he says. ‘Or maybe [Principal]?’
‘Okay.’
I eye the open office as I wait. Maybe I can slip out and wait in there, where no one can see me. Just in case I start crying.

The principal arrives and sweeps me away. She gets me a glass of water. The deputy arrives, too. I explain what has happened over the past couple of days.

I explain what I have just done and, lawyer-like, apologise for having yelled (NOT for what I said) and ask them to pass on my apology for having yelled. I tell them that I am appalled that anyone could say what she said to me, and very concerned if that is F’s teacher’s attitude. I tell them I want F to be listened to and that it is not okay for anyone to hit him, Prep or not. I explain that I was particularly annoyed that this last week, when the teacher KNEW what had happened on Monday, she did not tell me what had happened or even look into it. I told them that all I wanted was for the two boys to talk to each other and to be told what they did that was inappropriate.

The two principals say all the right things. (Almost.) They defend the teacher to a fault:

Of course no one should say that, but she wouldn’t have meant that. Not like that.

She’s had lots of special needs kids and knows exactly what she’s doing.

She must not have known what happened that day or of course she would have told you.


But they do seem very understanding and acknowledge that times are tough, that they want to know all about this and approach it as a team, and that F is a wonderful child.

**

When I leave, F and his friend L are in the corridor, looking for me, football under F’s arm. I walk them to the bikes.

‘Where were you? What were you doing?’

I tell them that I got angry with the teacher, that I lost my temper and yelled at her and that I shouldn’t have done that and I will need to apologise. I figure it’s not a bad lesson – that anyone can lose their temper, but that it’s not right and one should apologise.

‘So, did you sort it out with W?’
‘Yes.’
‘He beat up F. He hurt him,’ says L.
‘I know. And you were the only one who stood up for him and helped him, I hear. Thank you. You’re a very good friend.’
‘W lied at first’ says L. ‘But eventually he had to tell the truth. He stood there and cried.’
‘Oh yeah.’ I am unsympathetic. ‘Did he get told off?’
‘Not really. [Teacher] was pretty nice to him because he was crying. She was very mean to F.’
‘Really?’
‘Yup. She yelled at him.’

‘What happened?’ I ask F.
‘She told W to apologise and he wouldn’t and she didn’t make him. So I said to her “You’re letting him get away with it just because he’s got a sweet and innocent little face”.’
‘Oh dear.’ I do remember saying something of the sort myself last week.
‘Yes,’ says L. ‘Then she said to F ‘GET OUT OF MY SIGHT!’ And he hid under the table.’
‘Oh.’

Anyone with any knowledge of Asperger’s or experience with an Asperger’s child would:

a) Not say something so literal – his response was textbook stuff
b) Not bark orders like that – they don’t do any good
c) Realise that he was, in fact, telling the truth – even if he was doing it somewhat rudely – and take that into account when telling him off.

My thoughts? The teacher is a bitch. The school sucks. And I will have to figure out a way to ingratiate myself again so F doesn’t cop it.

**

Oh, and apparently W and his brother have been banned from playing with F. Which would explain why I ran into their parents on the street yesterday, walked RIGHT PAST THEM, and they pointedly snubbed us – me, F and The Husband. Oh well. That’s a bummer for F, but a blessed relief for me.

It is interesting, though. Why would one ban their child from playing with a boy because their child punched said boy in the face three times and tried to kick him in the stomach?

13 comments:

Jacob said...

Reading that made me go a bit teary!

I wish I had had a mum who would go through all of that to stick up for me. You're a champion mum, Ariel.

Ariel said...

Ah, Jacob, you rock! I feel like a raving nutter, so thanks.

redcap said...

Oh, you poor blossom! You and F certainly have had a lousy week. Want me to come over there and fill that arsehat teacher's letterbox with sauce? It's only 800km. What a horrible, horrible woman. Take care of yourself xx

Ariel said...

Oh, yes PLEASE. Can you also fill The Mother's letterbox with sauce? That would sort me out, I think.

Watershedd said...

The question is, if the F's teacher has dealt with numerous special needs children before, where and from whom did she learn her skills? Has the school taken any action in actively learning about
I'd have done my block, too. Have a bourbon and coke on me.

Asperger's or any of the Spectrum that classes as autism? Are they equipping he teachers to effectively teach and discipline kids like F? The principal saying such and actually providing evidence to you of their genuine efforts to help teach and raise F, to generate tolerance and understanding in his fellow schoolmates is fundamental to everyone feeling good - most of all F. Ask the principal and the teachers what she's doing. I'll bet very few, if any, of the teachers have received and specific training in this area.

Watershedd said...

Not sure what happened when I posted that. the post got jumbled, but you get the gist.

Ariel said...

They say they did receive training, but a long time ago. They reckon they're up for more. Good sign. I'm hoping Bitch Teacher is the big problem, as she will be gone soon.

Nai said...

That was just an appalling series of fuck-ups on the teacher's behalf. Luckily F has L (and you), and now you will never have to deal with The Mother again.

Helen said...

Oh poor you. What a hard time you and F are going through at the moment. I recognise Bitch Teacher (maybe different school, but same breed). Boychild isn't aspergers but he was, let's say, undercooked when he started school and often went head to head with her. And the school NEVER admits it when the teacher is at fault.

I also thought she wasn't behaving at all like someone trained to work with children with special needs and she doesn't seem to realise that things like impulsively grabbing a football might be part of it.

cristy said...

I was thinking about this last night and how much trouble my parents had with our school when my brother was little. Whenever Mum went in to deal with it she would get upset or angry (as I would) and they didn't tend to take her seriously.

In contrast, Dad managed to be less emotional about the issues and they always took him more seriously and followed up on the meetings with constructive action.

I know that this it extremely sexist etc. (and having an emotional response should not be considered in any way problematic) but have you considered getting your husband to speak to the school on F's behalf?

Ariel said...

Nai - yes, pity SHE doesn't see it that way. But thanks.

Helen - YES, you're spot on. And you're right, my mum (a teacher) concedes that the school never admits it when a teacher is at fault.

Cristy - I have thought about that. The problem is that F's dad is my ex and although we cooperate amazingly well for a separated couple, we are still a separated couple, and he does things differently to me and thinks a bit differently to me. He handled the teacher for the week after The Incident and I was immensely frustrated, as he doesn't really go into things at all. So, sadly, the answer is that I have to learn to keep my emotions under control. SIGH.

cristy said...

Yes, fair enough.
My parents were divorced too, but it seemed to work for them. Then again, we went weekly between their houses so my Dad had a lot to do with us.

Ariel said...

You know what, we swap too (one week one, one week off). Wow, that must have been really unheard of when you did it - it seems quite rare now. And F's father does a good job - he's a great father - I guess I'm just obsessive over certain things and F is one of them, so I prefer to know how things are dealt with and how they are going myself.

You have given me food for thought with that addition, though.