This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What Bear has learned this year

OK I was about to hit send on this e-mail, but decided it can wait a day. I could really use some feedback. I was going to send it to one of Bear’s teachers (Ms. S) in response to her e-mail, the assistant principal and Bear’s school casemanager- neither of whom will respond to my messages, the school principal who I contacted today to see if I could get her input on this situation, the school guidance counselor (who mostly deals with class schedules, but I talked her ear off for an hour or so last week about this), the school psychologist and Bear’s ROTC teacher.

I’m probably going to send it (or a version of it) tomorrow with or without advice so if you have a minute to comment fine, but if not, don’t worry about it.


Please forgive me for being blunt, but as I look at Bear’s declining grades and spotty attendance over the last semester, send yet another e-mail and leave yet another message with the AP’s(Assistant Prinicipal) office, talk to yet another counselor or (Behavior Program) Aide, talk to yet another teacher about projects Bear hasn’t even worked on, knowing there is nothing that anyone can/will do, especially now that there’s less than a week of class time left… I’m feeling a little “frustrated.”

I just want to say thank you all for everything (Bear’s High School) has “taught” my son this year.

* Ms. S, Why do you bother to write that late projects will not be accepted? You do realize that Bear has thoroughly learned the lesson that as long as he turns in something, eventually, whether he did the work himself or not, that he will still pass? And even if he doesn’t pass there are no consequences. If we’re not going to hold him accountable, then at what point do we say that Bear is unable to handle long-term projects (he owes one in World History as well that if he fails to turn it in will take him from a 96 to failing)?

* By the way he’s also learned that he can coast on earlier grades and that teachers will not let him fail if he’s “close” (i.e. pretty much anything above a 65).

* This year, ROTC taught him that he can talk someone into giving him extra credit and even go back and change a grade from the previous 6 weeks from a 40 something to passing. He’s apparently about to learn that if he loses his uniform and does nothing about it that his parents will have to pay the $250 and have no way of making him pay it back (he still owes money for the neighbor’s lawnmower that he borrowed and destroyed, not to mention our lawnmower, everyone’s bikes… but that’s not your problem).

* Last Summer he learned the lesson that we can make him go to Summer School, but we can’t make him GO to Summer School (Another High School) didn’t bother to tell us that he wasn’t showing up and even during the session he attended he couldn’t have done much or he would have gotten more than a 30something). Of course he’s also learned that it doesn’t matter if he fails Summer School or the TAKS test (TX Assessment of Knowledge and Skills – standardized testing of core subjects required for all grades – supposed to be required to pass it certain years for promotion)… he still gets promoted to the next grade. You’ll have to share the credit for teaching him that with (his middle school).

* He’s definitely learned that school attendance is not important, tardies are no big deal, and if you don’t like a class, teacher or students you have every right to get up and walk out. If you get caught then you can hang out with and enjoy the full attention of a male person who listens and cares.
* He learned that the worst that can happen to him is detention, and that's not so bad and probably won't happen anyway. I was told several times he would receive some detentions that he never received. I do not appreciate that not only did this make us as his parents look stupid to Bear, but it reinforced his belief that he’d “gotten away” with something. He did get some detentions, but by the time they were given the offense(s) was forgotten (or justified in his head), and it was no longer about his choices, but was “our fault” he was in trouble (because we’d pushed for the consequence). Bear actually enjoys detention (not sure what the rules are, but I suspect that he manages to get around them). We had to pull him early from a couple of detentions because he had therapy, and he was supposed to make up the time at lunch, but he learned how to avoid that too (if he didn’t go in the cafeteria no one could make him stay there. By the way, who knows what he was doing during lunch time?)
* He learned that stealing things and taking drugs and weapons to school, are fine because no one will catch you. Well, except Mom, but that doesn’t count at school.

* He’s also learned that adults are stupid, easily lied to and manipulated, and not to be trusted (that last part he already “knew,” but so glad we could reinforce it). Bear is in total control of his part of the big, bad world. He can even get adults to jump through hoops by accusing teachers of things like sexual harassment, and if they don’t get in trouble then it’s because they are liars who are out to get him.

At what point do we say that Bear is unable to consistently make good choices and that those bad choices he’s making could potentially be fatal? He has very little conscience, and if he thinks he won’t get caught I think he has the potential to make a lethal choice (even if it’s just not reporting that someone else has plans to blow up the school or selling someone his drugs that he doesn’t understand can be lethal in the doses he takes).

If you really think Bear is a “normal” teenage boy with a few issues, then you can keep telling him that.
* He’s hearing at school that not only can he move out at age 17 (less than 2 months people!), but that he can take care of himself in the real world. This is a kid who doesn’t even know what a resume is. He cannot fill out a job application. He is not capable of asking for help. How is he going to support himself at age 17, 18? Think his first priority will be making sure he takes his meds correctly for the “labels” he is convinced he doesn’t have? Go back and look at Bear’s records if you want to know what he was like when he wasn’t on the right meds. Or just multiply the way he is now by like a thousand.
* Who’s going to help him fill those meds? Who’s going to pay for it (over $1000 a month) How about when Medicaid runs out? Not us. He won’t let us. He’s pushing us away so we can’t hurt him. It’s reinforced almost every day that he’s perfectly normal. All teens are separating from their parents at this age, of course Bear never attached to anyone in the first place so he is not practicing what he’s learned from us, he’s falling without a parachute.
* We won’t help him get a driver’s license. When Bear decides he deserves or needs one and can get away with it, he’ll be “borrowing” a car. He already think he “knows how to drive” (I’m thinking Rainman here). All those who think he’s normal can pay the court fees and help him write apology notes to his victims’ families.
* By the way, the case of Poison Oak he got when he skipped class Monday was in some places that are NEVER exposed by my son who wears at least 3 layers at all times (he wouldn’t even let the doctor see the rash on his bellybutton let alone what he claims is under his (jeans, shorts, and boxers). Do you want to tell the mother of the girl he was probably with why my son won’t be the best baby daddy for her child?

Bear won’t graduate high school until he’s almost 19, assuming he doesn’t drop out before then. He was doing pretty well while he had the support of (Special Behavior School). I’d love to hear your suggestions for how to get him back on track. Obviously it’s too late to do anything about it this school year (which is why I’ve been trying to address this all semester). If I’m still able to be involved in his life next year, maybe I can even help, but you’ve obviously got everything under control there so I guess I’ll back off.

Of course I’m still legally liable, and for some reason I love this kid, so please feel free to contact me if you want to address this. ###.###.####.



Sharon said...

I say send it. Can it really hurt any more than they are already hurting him? Shoot, will they even read it?!?

GB's Mom said...

Send it- by mail, return receipt requested to the school superintendent. Keep a copy for yourself. In the event somebody does get hurt because of Bear, it will help hold the school district accountable. Any chance they would give you the Special Behavior School again?

Marty Walden said...

I have no experience with public school but I can say that you make your case, are precise with examples and only an idiot wouldn't address it. But that's why our kids are RAD. They can convince everyone they're okay when we all know they're not. I have no words of wisdom, just encouragement that you have done an amazing job with an incredibly difficult child. And, yeah, he is a child.

Mama Drama Times Two said...

Always best to wait a day before sending something that has big feelings attached to it. It is a heartfelt letter and it is sad to hear how the school has let your kid down. What I would suggest is rereading and sorting out what is the school's responsibility (grades, detentions etc) from what are the family's responsibility (rash, driver's license etc) and what is Bear's Responsibility (baby-daddy, completing school requirements etc)and just send the school stuff to the school. Sending it all dilutes their accountability. Good luck.

marythemom said...

Ok, I've made some changes already. Mostly to the end about what I expect them to do (removing all the sarcastic stuff). I also bolded the important stuff.

Want to address some things y'all have said:

1. School is out so quickly that I don't think mail is a good option, but in addition to e-mailing them, I will print them out and hand deliver copies to the school, plus I'll have copies with me if the principal agrees to meet with me.
2. GB's Mom: I've been told that once a child successfully works his way out of the special behavior school then he cannot go back.
3. MDx2: At Struggling to Stand's suggestion I went back and bolded the parts of the letter that were examples of the school liability. I hope it makes a difference.
4. My mom suggested I break this down into small more digestible parts, but I feel I've already done this to no effect and I'm out of time.


Sharon said...

I second the idea of getting it to the superintendent, and having Bear's school people know about it. How you go about doing that, well... maybe email?