It’s the words they don’t say, the euphemisms they use.
“He was very tired today.”
You know that doesn’t mean that he was sweet and snuggly and just wanted to read a book, right? You know they are just trying to tell me that he is a problem child. Or, he was a problem child today.
Except it isn’t just today. And it won’t be just tomorrow.
And my heart goes out to the teachers and caregivers and people who have to work with kids. Really, it does. I get that it is a hard job. Managing a full classroom is challenging enough, but to add kids who are high energy makes it all the more difficult.
Note: This is why I don’t do that job.
I’ve never before had a kid, who, when the teacher wants to pull me aside, I have to worry that it isn’t to sing their praises. Don’t get me wrong, all of my kids can be pills. Whether they are argumentative or too chatty or in their dark place or whatever, every kid has rough days. But my experience with teachers has always been that when they want to tell me about my kid, they are telling me about good things they’ve seen.
But now I’m seeing a whole new level of dread and heartbreak. Now, when teachers want to talk to me, it’s to tell me ways that he isn’t keeping up. It’s to tell me ways he was disruptive to the class. It’s to tell me how much they don’t understand that he says. It’s to remind me, again, that we can love him with all our might and scaffold him and be patient and get all the services that he could possibly use, and he will be able to overcome a lot of the challenges that life handed him… but he may never overcome all of them.
And the teachers like me, and they are very polite, so they tell me he was very tired today and I have to ascertain on my own how that played out in the classroom, and I’m never sure what the right response is. Do I apologize for the ways that he made their jobs harder? Do I thank them for the information, because as much as it breaks my heart, I also need to know so that I can properly advocate for him?
Here’s the thing–I know that he can be a handful. Goodness knows he keeps us on our toes and many nights when we tuck him into bed at night and he falls asleep we can breathe a sigh of relief because we can sit down for a minute without wondering what he is getting into. But he is also just so sweet and funny and loves to laugh and climb and play, and he is so physically gifted that it takes my breath away (literally, because he is a daredevil). He loves to read, he wants to hug every holiday inflatable creature outside and worries about them when they aren’t plugged in. He asks about the picture of the kid crying on the ‘feeling wall’ at school. When his brothers are upset, he gives them hugs. He likes to be tucked in with the monkey blanket so he can say, “ooh ooh ahh ahh” and his favorite lullaby is inexplicably ‘Row Row Row Your Boat.’ He is learning new words all the time, and I just love him so much that it makes my heart hurt. And the ways that he struggles to fit into the ‘typical’ kid behavior in school settings? Those aren’t his fault. He isn’t trying to be difficult.
I know lots of parents who have high energy kids, and I never really thought about what it would be like to get that call, again, about your kid. The “problem” kid.
It sucks. I’ll just put it out there. It sucks.