Monday, October 29, 2007

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. (at school)

This morning, I was so incredibly angry with the school that I thought I was going to explode.

I imagined storming into F’s classroom, taking his hand, and leading him out of there (‘I WON’T be bringing him back!’) I imagined storming into the Deputy Principal’s office and redirecting all my anger at F’s teacher at her. I imagined telling her just what I think of the school and their shitty response so far to F’s Aspergers. I thought about telling her (at high volume) just how pissed off I am that she personally blocked the tests he was lined up for in Prep, thus delaying his diagnosis by two years. I idly planned to turn up to the school’s open morning tea in a couple of weeks, where parents are encouraged to come along and share their enthusiasm with prospective parents, and tell all those prospective parents just what I really think of this bloody school.

Instead, I turned on my heel and stormed out of the schoolyard. And when I got home, I phoned F’s father to tell him exactly what happened.

Which was ...

I approached F’s teacher to tell her that I wanted to make sure that the meeting between F and W, where they would talk out Thursday’s punching incident, would still happen.
‘But he was away on Friday’ she said.
‘Yes, he was sick. That’s why I want to make sure it happens today.’
A sour look. Pursed lips. Stony eyes.
‘I’ve had some conversations anyway, and it didn’t happen the way you think it did.’
‘Well’ (I felt my tone become cutting, feel the anger rising in my throat, my chest trembling with the effort to keep it under control) ‘That may be true, but my son was still punched in the head and I want something done about it.’
‘That’s not what happened. There was blame on both sides.’
‘Yes, he made a smart comment and he was punched. That’s still not appropriate and I still want it resolved.’
‘I don’t know that that was it. There was blame on both sides. It’s alright, I’m very fair’
‘LOOK, I know that F can exaggerate. But I know when he’s telling the truth. He was very, VERY upset on Thursday. He cried like I haven’t seen him do in months. I want F to feel like he’s been listened to, and he wasn’t on Friday.’
‘He wasn’t here on Friday.’
‘Okay, on Thursday. He was not listened to on Thursday. He wasn’t listened to by the yard duty teacher, who fobbed him off. And nobody was going to tell me about it. I wouldn’t have known that my son was hit in the head if he didn’t tell me. You weren’t going to tell me.’
‘You have to trust me. I’m very fair.’
‘If my son is hit in the head, I want to know about it. He came home with a splitting headache.’
‘I’m very fair.’

She flounced off to the classroom. I flounced off in the other direction. Meanwhile, I have no idea what apparently happened. All I know is that he was, in fact, hit in the head, and that the school want to fob me off about it.

All I want is for them to set up the promised meeting between the two boys so they can talk about it and resolve it and so that F knows he has been heard. If he did do something else wrong, then they are free to punish him, too.

But there is no way in hell that it’s okay to decide that the Asperger’s boy exaggerates and is oversensitive, so his story doesn’t need to be heard. And that if there are two competing voices, his is obviously the wrong one.

AND ... why would I trust someone just because they tell me to? Especially when they have quite obviously shown they are NOT fair. It’s my son we’re talking about. As if I’m going to say ‘okay, it’s not my place to question your ways’. It is my place and it will always be my place to know how his problems are dealt with and to see that they are dealt with to my satisfaction.

My parents were/are teachers. My sister is studying primary teaching. The Husband, his brother and I have all completed part (not all) of teaching degrees. I get that it’s a hard job. I get that they’re not social workers. I get that they have a million kids to deal with at once. I get that parents can’t demand the world. But I can ask that problems at school – especially physical violence – are appropriately dealt with.

And maybe ... just maybe ... that on a week when my son has received some very tough news, that he be treated with some small degree of consideration. Even – and I’m pushing it here – that that same consideration be extended to me. Which means? That we are both listened to with respect.

Fat. Bloody. Chance.

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