It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… but mainly it was the most frustrating of times.
If you have read past blog posts you know that we had an unfortunate incident with a lunchbox a month or so ago that involved someone taking his lunchbox, shoving it in the toilet, & trying to flush it down. Don’t worry… the school assured me it wasn’t bullying, it was an isolated incident that was a crime of opportunity not targeting my son. Okay, I’ll buy that. You can read that post here. I ordered him a metal Dr. Who lunchbox to smooth life out & all was kosher.
A few weeks ago I got a call from the school counselor letting me know that while he was using the restroom he sat his bag & new ($30) Dr Who lunchbox down in the breeze way only to find that it had been stomped in when he came back out. They school bent it back as best they could & he was okay. When I got the call from the counselor letting me know I was so relived to hear that the school is sure that this was an isolated incident that was a crime of opportunity not targeting my son.
Flash forward a week or so. I picked him up from school right before Thanksgiving break & on the ride home he told me about his horrible day. He was headed to the restroom & put his lunchbox on a desk by one of his teachers room that is next to the rest room. This is what the school had told him to do instead of leaving it where all the kids leave theirs to make sure no other “Crimes of opportunity” happened. So this time someone went to the teachers door, got the Dr Who lunchbox & gave it another good stomping. I didn’t get a call this time because I’m not even sure if he bothered telling anyone because they have proved that nothing will happen. So as I kept my cool while hearing him tell me about how his most prized possession would no longer hardly latch I realized that, much like my respect for the public school system, advocacy at Shawnee Middle School is dead & gone. I calmly called the school that day to speak with his principal to see what was going on & why this was happening without anyone stepping up to help. I got his voicemail, I left a voicemail, &…. yeah that’s about it & this was before thanksgiving break. I have called two other times with no luck of talking to anyone & I’m starting to feel like I’m the crazy girlfriend in this situation! Is the staff at the school trying to tell me they don’t want to be in a relationship anymore? I want it to work, we’ve had some great times together! I remember that time we all had an IEP meeting in the library & everyone told my wife & I that they just LOVED my son! I remember everyone saying they would look out for him since he is vulnerable & I said thanks & that I was so appreciative! Remember that public school system? Remember? I chaperoned the trip to the zoo & when someone didn’t load the lunches I raced 50 miles back to pick them up only to make it back just in time for them to eat & you were so appreciative of me? Remember that, public school system? Oh, & remember that time we were laying on the beach & I brushed your hair…wait that was my wife… you get what I’m saying’? In the words of Theodore Roosevelt: Why ya gotta do me like that boo?
I guess my issue is… they kinda suck. Isolated incidents, crimes of opportunity, & security cameras that are seemingly never pointed in the right direction all make for a bully friendly environment. I mentioned in my previous blog that the local news did a story about a girl bing bullied by several other kids while filming it on a cell phone & posting it on the internet. That was at my sons school & when they interviewed the parents of that girl you know what they said the school told them… wait for it… wait for it… we are confident it was an isolated incident & not a situation where your child was bing targeted. It’s like they have a deck of cards with crappy excuses to tell parents. When a new one comes in with a problem they just draw a card from the deck!
The next move? Not sure! First move was ask nicely, second move was vent my frustrations to thousands of blog readers, third is to I guess go back to the drawing board. It’s just such a fine line because he says there is no one person bullying him but at the same time he is so oblivious to things like that we have seen situations like this before when someone is mean to him & he doesn’t even realize it. In rural Oklahoma there are not a lot of private school options (Ones that aren’t crazy religious or super expensive) & it upsets the hell out of me that we would even have to look at that option because he can’t get a fair shake at public school!
Yeah, I’m pretty sure there are camera’s in this house after watching parenthood & seeing that the character Max is having an interest in girls because this is my life right now! I picked him up from school the other day & right off the bat, just looking at him wait for me to pick him up I could see a spring in his step. He jumped in the car & I knew something was up when I got an Adventure Time style ‘Heeeeeeyyy what uuuuuppppp” When I asked how his day was going he gave me a wink….that’s right a wink & told me it was the best day so here is the run down.
- Classes were good – All work got done in class & Organizational Skills period
- Band had a substitute so it was a movie day – How was the movie? It “Did not suck.”
- Both previous statements equal no homework at all
- “I have a crush on a girl, she’s a goddess”
- I talked with a kid about Dr. Who at lunch
Wait wait wait…Crush? Goddess? Holy crap. My first questions were of course who, how, & why. She’s a girl in a couple of classes, he just noticed her? & why? Listen closely guys because this one is going to melt your face off! “She’s just always really nice, not just to me but to everyone. She is always willing to help other kids. I like her personality & it just makes me smile to be around her” Yep! that’s right, my son skipped right over the ‘She’s so freakin hot’ & went all Mark Darcy on her ass! That’s how it’s done gentlemen, take notes. (In my best pirate voice) We are now officially in uncharted teenaged territory folks. The waters be rough & ever changing here, tread lightly.
This last week has shaken us all to the core. We have a very close family, my parents live on the same block as my grandparents. Everyone sees each other almost daily, thats just small town life. On Wednesday of last week my wife & I headed to Oklahoma City, about 30 or 40 minutes west of us, to hang out for the day (she has an addiction to the scones at sprouts). When we realized we were getting close to having to leave so we could be back in time to pick up the kids I called my granddad to see if he could pick them up from school. (While its out of routine the kids love this & always want to go over to their house) Things went normal & after getting home we headed over to pick them up. My youngest was so excited because grandma (in reality his great-grandma) paid him $3 to get under the table and dust the legs off. 9AM the next morning I got a call from my granddad asking me to come over and give grandmother a breathing treatment because she was having trouble, she has had a bit of a croup. By the time we arrived at their house an ambulance was pulling down their street. I went into the house to find her unresponsive & not breathing on the kitchen floor. I did CPR while the medics got in & while they started IV’s, pushed drugs, & did their best but after working so many years in EMS myself I knew there was a slim to none chance of her coming back to us. After being with the family for a while at the hospital we decided it was time to head to school to pick up the kids a bit early to break the news. The two youngest boys (6 & 8) really took it like champs but I had a feeling it was going to be rough on Jayden. How do you break that kind of news easy? I explained that she wasn’t feeling well & reminded him of how she said she was a bit sick yesterday. From there I just tried to explain & tell him about her passing away. An instant breakdown and his breakdown caused my breakdown & then my wife as well. The three of us just sat in the parking lot of the middle school & cried together for a while.
Flash forward to yesterday, our first day back at school. We took monday as a mulligan day. About 1 or so Jayden’s counselor called to let me know that after eating his lunch he went to pick up his lunchbox & couldn’t find it. He knows to check the lost & found as well as the office but had no luck. Someone told him that there was a lunchbox in the boys bathroom that someone has stuffed down a toilet. Yep, that was his! I was proud that he made the decision to go back to class after he had calmed down because he wanted to finish the day but as I pulled into the car line I could see him walking in circles. With any luck they will find who did this by review the security footage at the school but who knows. We don’t even know if someone did it because it was him or because they just saw a lunch box sitting there. Either way, its been a rough go these last few days. This morning he played the tummy ache card & I could tell he really didn’t want to go to school but we talked about it & with any luck it will go better today.
*UPDATE*: Today things went a lot better at school & while he was there we visited Amazon to pick up a special lunch box that is sure to make everything awesome! Check this thing out!!
Yes, My mother was a bad person & dress my brother & I alike despite our 4 year age difference! Thats me with the missing tooth.
Our run in mainstreamed public middle school up until now hasn’t been what you would call… how you say… good. First it was overstimulated and overwhelmed then it was home work getting the best of us with a little bit of ‘I don’t wanna do this work because it’s eating into my free time’. We have supported, punished, stayed on top of, & more. Nothing has really solved our problems. I’m not saying I thought it would all be smooth sailing but I am saying I had a false sense of how good I was at dealing with all this.
When I worked in EMS on an ambulance and we would have what was affectionately called a ‘Come To Jesus Meeting’. These aren’t religious talks at all. Kids from the south know what I’m talking about, if mom says she’s going to give you a come to Jesus meeting it is a lot like an attitude adjustment. They could range from a sympathetic ear to a confrontational soapbox speech depending on what the person needed. After realizing my bag of parenting tricks was not only empty but it was inside out with a hole in it we figured we would try something new. Trust.
One type of homework he never minds doing is band homework
When I picked him up from school, just the two of us, we talked about responsibilities & what they mean. We have these talks all the time but this time I tried to concentrate on my responsibilities & what the cause & effect was of me living up to them. Decide to work today like I’m supposed to equals money equals more income for the family equals the ability to vacation, buy video games, etc. After that I spun it in his situation as school work is done on time & turned in equals trust equals more adult like treatment. He was very receptive to this & after explaining that if I could trust that he did the right thing, the appropriate thing, the expected thing then that would equal adult treatment such as a cell phone & having a cell phone would equal the ability to venture on his own at times when the family is at the store & he wants to go look at electronics or something to that effect. (I’ve been fighting this thought in my head but I’ve also been encouraged by the fact that he at least wants to get out of the house & go places – small victories!) Just thought I would mention that since we are so close & sometimes he, I think, even blurs the line between us being best friends & father son (until something goes wrong & discipline is delved out anyway) I also put it out there to him that I wasn’t upset or mad at him but I was disappointed in the way he was letting me down by not trying harder to do what was expected of him. How he was being selfish & not thinking of how his actions at school effected his whole family. I wasn’t sure if that was in vain or not but I threw it in none the less.
This went really well but I’ve thought that before & have been slapped in the face by reality. A couple of days ago he brought home his progress report & much to my surprise from the day we talked he had turned in all of his assignments & got great grades on them. While talking to my wife she said something to the effect of ‘It seems like you have been doing a lot better lately’ & he replied ‘I’ve been doing what we talked about & I’m in a much better place at school’ (heart swelling… ego growing… Parenting LEVEL UP!)
Needless to say:
We started him off with a pre-paid Trecfone to be safe & leave room for improvement. Not only is it an instant gratification because it wasn’t a situation where, like in the past, he has had to stay golden for an extended period of time but now that he has it he is excited about it. Excited not just about the phone but we talked about how this phone just does talk & text so if the good behavior continues, the expectations are continually met, & get even been then so does his adult like responsibilities. Translation in to dad terms: keep doing good & we can maybe upgrade to a smart phone or do bad & I have something to take away as a punishment.
We will see! I’m sure all of you with kids on the high functioning end of the spectrum have been in this same place; feeling great about a parenting win like your on fire & then here in a week it will all come crashing down but HEY! If I’ve learned anything from autism parenting it’s that I’m gonna sure as heck enjoy the first week of that parenting win feeling for now & we will cross that sky is falling bridge when we get there!
Just a quick note to say thanks for all the support I have had over the years with Adventures In Aspergers! With the new chapters we have started, i.e. pre teen & middle school years, I thought I would give the blog a face lift as well as update some things. A new platform, yep I’m switching to wordpress for all you bloggers out there. Also updating the name keeping Adventures In Aspergers but adding the new ‘Adventures With Autism’ as well. I’m not only adding it because it accurate but also because it will improve the sites reach. I started this blog as an outlet & it has been a great one but even more than an outlet it has been a help to so many people that I’ve been inspired to widen my reach & put out as much helpful content as possible. Everything should be integrated from the old site. If you find a link that doesn’t work or a problem or maybe even have a suggestion please as always just drop me a message! I love hearing from readers & I am going to be working on making this blog even more of a recourse spot for families dealing with autism.. All the old articles are still here, even your old links that you have ever shared are still live & work. I’m working to make this transition as smooth as can be but again, if you find something missing or a link broken feel free to drop me a line!
Just in case you wanna drop me a note: