Is it just me, or does anyone else feel like just when you think things are finally going well the sh!t hits the fan? My husband and I just had a conversation last month about how things with my son had finally settled down and we had his ADHD well managed. It had been 2 long years getting him diagnosed, medicated, and transitioned to middle school. We weren't walking on eggshells each morning trying to avoid meltdowns. The afternoons weren't terrible--most were actually enjoyable. My son would have an occasional outburst, but we have been successful in navigating the situation and getting him calmed before he exploded. There were no calls/emails from the school. Everything was fine... until it wasn't.
He made the soccer team a couple of weeks ago. Then within a week I got 3-4 phone calls from my son crying hysterically for me to come to get him. Some boys on the team would only let the "cool kids" in the locker room and my son wasn't cool enough. They picked him up, carried him around, and put him under the bleachers! They put him in headlocks. They would jump over top of him. (My son is a lot smaller than most of the other boys. I'm only 5'1" and as of now he is taking after me for height.) The coach doesn't have a lot of patience and my son can be very hyper and honestly, he can be annoying when he gets fixated on right/wrong. We tried to help him manage the situation without running and telling the coach every little thing. Well on Friday things went south at practice. My son hit a couple of the boys with a water bottle in retaliation. They ganged up and told the coach. The coach said he was on thin ice and my son lost his cool and quit. I explained to the coach that the boys had been bullying him and even though their stories matched each other, they were omitting things they did to instigate it. My son overreacted and shouldn't have spoken to the coach the way he did. He shouldn't have spoken to me the way he did when I picked him up. I'm okay with him not being on the team because of those two things, so we are going to use this as a teachable moment.
Fast forward to Monday during his last class. One of his old teammates is in his class and told him the team had a party when he quit! No one on the team likes him. They're thrilled he is not on the team anymore. My son starts cutting up paper. This is a technique his old therapist taught him to self-soothe. The student teacher told him to quit and he wouldn't. He was disrespectful, made faces at her, etc. He got two days of in-school suspension. I'm still waiting to hear from the teacher. This is the same class last week that my son got in trouble with a different teacher. (I'm still trying to figure out why there are so many teachers in this class.) She told him not another word and he said "okay". He thinks he was acknowledging that he heard her. She took that as him being a smartass. It was probably a little bit of both.
I need suggestions on how to handle this. Unlike being on a soccer team, he does need to go to class. Being disrespectful to the teacher is inexcusable and I want him to do better. But, what is an 11-year-old supposed to do when he is being bullied; is using what I believe is a common self-soothing technique; and, the teacher tells him to stop? I'm lost. By the time a kid is cutting or tearing paper, he is past the point of calm conversations at that moment.
I've requested another 504 meeting.
Omg yes. I say that to my wife all the time. That it's like a bad relationship: you just keep hoping for "a few good days," so you can get back to normal. We have 2/3 ADHDers here (really 3/5, if you count my wife, too), so I often feel like I am just trying to tiptoe across a spider web.
As for the teacher, that's tough. It shouldn't be the best response but, also, also I'm sure sure the teacher is worried about safety above all. Not trying to be annoying. I'm a teacher, so take my reaction with a grain of salt. But suspension? Or "smart-ass"? No way! Wtf is wrong there? My son just had to ask for scissors every time he needed them last year because he kept cutting up his own clothing in a self-stimming way! That is some school culture your son has to deal with that needs adjusting.
Oh man, the bullying. Can you believe this shit in 2023? I have been shocked by it on our end, although it has actually been more with "mean girls" and our older daughter than our son. (Out youngest is blissfully not in "real school" yet.)
With my son, I walk a really fine line that is so gendered, I know. I'm like, if someone tries to hurt you, you fight back as hard as you can, and I will take the hit from the school, not you. But, if it's not that, just ignore it and get away. Tbh, I was horribly physically bullied at school until I was 12, so my "hit back" response is likely not in line with current thinking. I think your son did a good job sticking up for himself, and those kids sound awful. The coach, too. Cromag. No joke, I quit soccer over mistreatment 10 million years ago.
I would go to the school meeting armed with a letter or direct quotes from his psychiatrist and therapist re allowable in-class activities, as well as a printed out recent scholarly article, and I would threaten to bring holy legal hell down on the school for the bullying in the meeting. My wife might do that part because she can be scarier than me in an official situation.
That's just me, though. Not saying I'm right. But you have all my sympathy, as does your son. I learned my practical American male life lesson about size at the end of grade school. (Obviously, I'm the dad here.) After 7th grade, I grew to my current height (6' 2") with big shoulders, and, suddenly, everyone who used to bully me loved me. Sigh. Still meeses with my head at 44 years old!
(Hope this all makes sense. I'm having an insomniac night, so I logged on here, and I'm probably being way too direct or honest.)
I don’t think the teacher was worried about safety & scissors. The discipline note was focused on tiny pieces of paper; making faces at the teacher; and general disrespect. Only the student teacher was in the classroom. I don’t know what kind of faces my son was making, but his typical MO is a mean scowl. I don’t like it, but I ignore it at home because there is no way to make him stop in the heat of the moment. These are things I discuss with him the next day when everyone is calm. I think the best piece of parenting advice I ever got was a lesson I learned from our dog trainer. LOL! He said, “never give a command if you can’t follow through and make her do it.” If I tell the dog to sit and she doesn’t, I don’t leave the interaction until she does. Even if it takes 15 minutes, I work with her until she sits. Otherwise, she learns that following the sit command is optional. If I don’t think she is going to obey and I don’t have 15 minutes to work with her, I avoid all commands & kennel/leash her. I try to use a similar approach to my kids--minus the kennel/leash of course!
My rule is if they throw the first punch, they will be in big trouble. But if someone hits them, they better fight back. Their only worry should be protecting themselves. I’ll deal with the school administration. My kids are too little (10-15%tile) to not fight back. They can be seriously injured waiting on an adult to intervene, especially at this age when only some of the kids have gone through puberty! There are so many fights at their school, the boys aren’t allowed to use the restrooms between classes. They must ask for permission during class and get a hall pass. I think this coupled with the size difference really scares my son. The only fight he has been in was with his older brother (12 months difference in age).
We have a meeting scheduled with the principal tomorrow to discuss the situation and his 504 Plan. I kept my son home for the 3rd day. I’m not sending him back until something is done. I spoke with the soccer coach yesterday after practice. (My older son is still on the team.) He has assured me he will speak with boys today. He also asked me to let him know if it happens again. Fingers crossed!
Totally. And I didn't mean to get lost in the details of my own story there! I was functioning on very little sleep, multiple kiddo psych visits in a few days, and visiting family + in-laws so, rereading what I wrote, it was too raw.
I mainly meant to convey that, oh man, I get what you are saying. I spent a summer after the pandemic year working with one kiddo, then the whole next year with another and, in September 2022, it seemed like everyone was on track and I could focus on my new job after 2 years not working. But that was like two weeks max, and the sh*t hadn't stopped hitting the fan since.
That was all I really meant; I totally get that sinking feeling when you suddenly realize things aren't as OK as they seemed! I apologize if the original response was rough; I was at my own limit! I've had some sleep and food since then, lol.