Monday, October 24, 2011

"Shufflin', sh-sh-shufflin'..."

For your enjoyment, because Americans aren't crazy enough about our holiday light shows! Now we have to decorate for HALLOWEEN!!!

It's just a bit of surreal to end your day with, WOOO!!!

Because sometimes, they just need you to be there...

So... had a parent-teacher conference with the Impossible Son's primary teacher today. It was interesting, and encouraging.

It was only supposed to be for 15 minutes, but... we ended up talking for 45! We talked about the Impossible Son's math problems at length, and I found that he's been rushing through his math assignments so he can read a book afterwards. While she's pleased to see him reading, she's not so pleased that he's rushing through his math, getting problems wrong, and not asking for help. He says nothing to her. Just finishes as quickly as possible and hands in it, then grabs his book and disappears into it.


Shades of his mother. Meaning me. Which means I know exactly what he's doing.

So, I told her, explaining yet again about the lack of trust in his teachers, and said, "It's not you personally. This started in second grade, with Mrs. Oblivious Teacher, who is now teaching fifth grade." I filled her in on what he had gone through, trotted out several of the math "explanations" she had given me, and followed up with what he had gotten in third and fourth grade, including the outside issues that were causing problems for him.

"Was he as lost as he seems to be now last year, too?" Mrs. S. asked me.

"Oh, yes," I replied. "I had Mrs. H. send home math homework, worksheets, whatever it took, to tutor him through what was stumping him."

We went over what I've found so far that stumps him, showed her what he was doing and what I had done to correct it, and finished with, "I can't help him if I don't know what's going wrong, so please, please, please send home worksheets!"

About this time, a mouse made its presence known.

Not long after that, a second larger mouse made its presence known.

We spent the rest of our time with our feet up off the floor, keeping an eye out for the mice, and talking about the Impossible Son and what we could do to help him.

Somewhere in there, I found myself volunteering to tutor three of her students who are having difficulty with reading comprehension. They read beautifully, but have no memory whatsoever of what they've read. "Apparently, this is a skill they didn't learn back in second grade," she said grimly. "Nor have they been tested or had any sort of intervention recommended, so far as I can find out. And the parents are... not responding to any of my notes."

Oh, goody.

So... this should be fun. I'll start out twice a week, and depending on how things go, I may end up doing it more often, but we'll see. I figure getting them to break the stories down into smaller parts and asking them to tell me what they remember is a good place to start, and I'll expand from there.

The other advantage is that this gets me into the Impossible Son's classroom twice a week, so I can see what's going on and unobtrusively observe him in class.

Lastly, I also need to talk to his Language Arts teacher about why he's making a 75 in a class he normally makes 90's to 100's in. I mean, seriously, this is a kid who is reading at a 7th grade level! I mean, I have my suspicions, but... I'll wait until I talk to the teacher.


Tis a puzzlement!!

Friday, October 21, 2011

People to do, things to see...

So... it's been awhile, hasn't it?

Part of that's been because we had the Stomach Virus from Hell, which was possibly a norovirus. Well, the Husbandly One got it on a Wednesday night, threw up and had... um... well, let's just say he drove the porcelain bus, too. Yay. He had me worried to the point of hovering.

I don't hover. Unless someone is really sick.

He got better Thursday afternoon, which was a good thing, because that's the day the school didn't call me when the Impossible Son had been attacked at school.


By Friday, I had a meeting with the principal, informing her in no uncertain terms that she would be seeing both myself and the Husbandly One for a meeting, it was not going to be postponed to a more convenient time because as far as we were concerned, since she and her staff dropped the ball, her convenience was irrelevant to the situation.

I will say this about the Impossible Son's principal. Confronting her is like bashing yourself into a brick wall surrounded by fluffy pink blondeness. Seriously. First, she tried to blame the lack of calling on the counselor. "I told her to do it immediately," Mrs. K. said. "She knew she was supposed to inform you first thing!"

"Except she was in the office with you, because according to your own words, the student was out of control."

"Well, yes, but she should have called you the minute she left my office, and I reprimanded her for it, telling her that her priority is always to inform the parents..."

"Mrs. L. has always called me when there is a problem," I said firmly. "That has never been a problem for us before."

Yeah, that kind of threw her.

And... she tried to turn the Impossible Son's esteem issues back on us. Ohhhh, don't even go there! Don't... even.

We announced our intention to transfer Mr. Impossible, and THO tried to couch it diplomatically, saying that sometimes, just changing an environment can be good (he's had personal experience with that), and of course, she tried to discourage us because they really, really don't want to lose the Impossible Son from that particular school, which is the "flagship" of the district.

*insert eyeroll here*

And finding out what measures they were taking, in the meantime, to protect our son was like... pulling hen's teeth. She kept citing privacy laws to us and I finally snapped and said, "Look, I just want to know if my son is going to be safe! I want to know what guarantee there is that this won't happen again. I want to know what you are doing to make sure he's safe! Are you moving this kid to another class? Are you separating him out and putting him in in-school suspension? Are you sending him to the alternate school? Are you fitting him with a shock collar? What??"

I mean, she wouldn't even tell me if this kid was bigger than Mr. Impossible!!

I found out later through a friend who works at Mr. Impossible's school that Lug has a "shadow." A teacher who is assigned specifically to him who is with him at all times, and that he isn't allowed to come into contact with the other children.

It was a most unsatisfactory meeting on all sides.

So, THO and I made an appointment to talk to the principal of the school across the street from our backyard. She was pleasant and calm, asking for our son's name and taking notes when we told her why we were there and wanted to transfer him. Then she dropped the bomb.

It seems that the fifth grade class in our district is the largest ever, and the fifth grade classes at all four elementary schools in our town are literally jam-packed to the gills. In fact, the class at the Impossible Son's school is the largest in the district, to the point that they had to hire a fifth teacher just to handle the overload.

I already knew this. It started in second grade, when they had to hire a fifth teacher (there are normally four teachers at each grade level at his school) and let her go at the end of the year, then hired a fifth 3rd grade teacher the next year... and let her go, and so on and so forth. I just didn't realize it was district wide.

Anyhow, the principal, Mrs. O. told us she would give us a call after reviewing the situation with the fifth grade teachers at her school, and as soon as there was an opening.

That was Friday. That night, the Impossible Son got the stomach bug, and threw up continuously for several hours. He wanted his Papa with him, so THO stayed up with him while I went to grab some sleep, only to be shaken awake at 2 a.m. "We need to take Mr. Impossible to ER," THO said. "He's dehydrated."

So, I got up, got dressed, woke up the Impertinent One, grabbed a blanket, a towel, and a bowl, and drove to San Marcos and the ER there. That's when we found out it was possibly norovirus, and that we weren't the only ones. There were a lot of people with the same thing there.

Fun, fun, fun.

The Impertinent One, in the meantime, trying to stay awake and to not starve, raided the vending machines and consumed Dr. Pepper, a slice of carrot cake, a Coke, and Doritos. This... made her incredibly hyper and it was exhausting just to look at her. When we got home, the Impossible Son crashed on one couch, THO passed out in our bed, and I went and curled up in the Impertinent One's bed.

I was too tired to process that my teenage daughter was hyper and had nothing to do!!

When I eventually woke up several hours later, I staggered into the dining room and stopped, frowning. Something was missing. The feeling increased as I moved through the kitchen, and then into the living room.

She had cleaned the dining room, the kitchen, and the living room. She did dishes and several loads of laundry and... and... then she... she...


I am still gobsmacked. Still.

Needless to say, our weekend was pretty mellow after that.

Well, Monday, Mrs. O. called and informed me that she had talked to Mrs. K., who had assured her that measures were in place to protect my son. And Mrs. O. was hesitant to transfer my son, but not because of Mrs. K's assurances. She said, "The thing is, we have a group of boys in our fifth grade classes and there is a lot of... ahem... drama going on with them. Normally, this is a problem with the girls, but this year, for some odd reason, it's the boys. And I'm really concerned that if we transfer your son here, we will be taking him from one ... dramatic environment... and dropping him smack-bang into the middle of another dramatic environment with the added bonus that he would be The New Kid. And Mrs. J.... that would be like tying meat around his neck and dropping him in a shark tank."

"I can see that," I said with a sigh, and I do. Great.

I haven't called the other elementary just down the street because that's the school we transferred Miss Impertinent away from when she was being bullied, and the same woman is still principal. She didn't protect Miss Priss, and I don't have a lot of confidence in her protecting Mr. Impossible.


That night, the Impertinent Daughter had a choir concert at the school, and I... wasn't feeling so good. But I went, leaving THO with the Impossible Son, and sat through the junior high choir's unenthusiastic and uninspired droning (no, you can't possibly call that singing) and was relieved when it was the high school choir's turn, because they actually can and do sing, and... drove home after, hoping the rock in my stomach would go away.

Yeah, I spent the night throwing up and ... driving the porcelain bus. Let's put it this way, THO didn't change out of his work clothes until the next afternoon.

So far, the Impertinent One has avoided it. *knocks frantically on wood* This stomach virus is ripping its way through town, and I just hope it doesn't come back for a second visit because... eurgh!!

And then this week, I had a checkup with the endocrinologist. During my last appointment, there was concern that the Lump on my thyroid seemed to be growing, so I was scheduled for an ultrasound, which ended up being rescheduled several times due to circumstances beyond my control (i.e. sick kids). Well, I finally got it done, and when the doctor saw me, he had a pleased smile on his face. The Lump has apparently been reabsorbed, and while they are going to be keeping close tabs on me (I go back in December), they're pretty certain this is just one more part of having Hashimoto's thyroiditis (anybody know Hashimoto? I'm sure he's missing his thyroiditis, and I really wouldn't mind giving it back...).

So... there we are, all caught up. And now, it's time for me to pick the Impossible Son up from school!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Because the bully blues just go on and on...

Y'all must be getting sooooo tired of me writing about bullies. I know I am.


Okay, so... the Impossible Son comes home and announces that he never, ever wants to go back to "that school" again. And I just knew... I just knew.

"What happened?" I asked.

Oh. My. God.

Okay, first, before I go on, let me assure you all, he's fine. Just some minor scrapes, sore muscles, and shock. And he doesn't want to go back to school. And what little trust he had in the school is... well, shot.

So... they didn't have P.E. today, they had music. So after lunch, they were allowed to go out to the playground. However, the second graders have the lunch period before the fifth graders, so the big kids have to wait in line behind some orange safety cones until the little kids clear the playground, and then they're allowed out. A new kid in the Impossible Son's class, we'll call him "Lug," had been in class long enough to know this rule, but was impatient to get on the playground, I guess.

Now, the Impossible Son's class teacher wasn't out there. Her class was being chaperoned by the school counselor and another teacher, Miss C.

Okay, so Lug decided to run out onto the playground, and the Impossible Son caught his sleeve gently (and this is the counselor's word, not mine) and said, "Hey, you can't go out there yet, Lug."

Lug turned and backhanded Mr. Impossible, then grabbed him by the arms, twisted them, and took him down to the ground. The counselor said she was shouting at them, but they couldn't hear her, and she got there as fast as she could. By the time she and Miss C. got there, Lug was about to stomp Mr. Impossible in the face.


Yeah, I'm still shuddering over that part.

So, they pulled Lug off of my 4' 3", 66 pound son and hauled him to the principal's office. This was around 1 p.m. and the counselor said that she, the principal, and the assistant principal were dealing with him from then until 3:15 p.m.

But they never called me... and they didn't inform his teacher, either.

And guess who Lug's teacher is? I bet y'all can't. Yeah, she's the Impossible Son's former second grade teacher, the one who started us all on this lovely little round-about of bullying and denial. Yay.

So... when the Impossible Son told me about this, I was... livid. Though I managed not to audibly snarl. So, as soon as I sent the Impossible Son on to grab his things, I turned to the phone and put a call in to the school, demanding to know why I wasn't called when my son was attacked on the playground.

Oh, yeah, that took them aback a bit.

I was transferred to Mrs. S., his main teacher, and I left a voicemail, then went back to the main office and asked to speak to the counselor, "since I understand she is a witness."

Yeah, that shook them up, too.

She was on bus duty, though, so, I gave my cell phone number and waited for the call back. And she did call back, within ten minutes, and I got the story from her. At least, the part about the actual attack. What happened to Lug after wasn't so clear, though the counselor hastened to assure me that my son didn't have to worry about Lug again. She said, "There were some other issues, the longer we dealt with him, and the fact of the matter is, he won't be allowed back into this school until his... er... issues have been dealt with."

That didn't sound very encouraging, and the longer she went on, the worse it sounded. Finally, I said, "Okay, so... do the Husbandly One and I need to file charges for assault and battery? Because I have to tell you, I am not liking the sound of this at all, and the fact that you're telling me absolutely nothing isn't exactly inspiring confidence in me."

"Oh, no, no, we are dealing with this, Mrs. J, I assure you!"

"I also have to tell you that what little trust he had in you and the rest of the staff at your school is completely shot. You assured him last year that he would be safe, and he was extremely upset when he got home. He doesn't feel safe and he is begging us to transfer him..."

"OH no, there's no need to do that, Mrs. J.! Really! This boy will not be a problem, and your son will be safe..."

His grades are dropping, and he's having trouble focusing. I know he's been having bully problems again, but he's been telling me he's been dealing with it. I was planning on stopping by after school this week, or waiting for the conference I'll be having with his main teacher on the 20th to sound her out, but... no, I don't think it can wait now.

Oh, and after the call with the counselor, the phone rang again, and it was his main teacher, and that's when I found out that she hadn't been told, either! Nor did the Impossible Son tell her when he got back to class, which really puzzled her. "He didn't seem upset or anything," she said when I told her. "He just came in,grabbed his book, and started reading!"

I sighed, wondering how she could be teaching this long and not know this. "Look, Impossible has been having bully issues since second grade, and that was because Mrs. Oblivious Teacher, who is now teaching fifth grade with you, basically ignored it. She told him to stop trying to get attention for himself. And he's had ongoing bully issues since then. And every single time, it's taken a major effort by myself and his father to get your school to deal with it. He has no trust in the teachers, and no trust in the staff. He doesn't trust you on principle. It has nothing to do with you personally. Let me put it this way, if he ever actually comes to you and tells you someone is picking on him, or hurting him, or making fun of him, you can take it as read that it's bad, because if it wasn't, he wouldn't say anything to you, because he fully expects you to ignore it."

I could tell that shocked her, but... she has been ignoring him over the last week. Which was why I was planning on stopping by after school, so I could ask her why. And find out what she thought was going on (the answers to that are always so illuminating... and depressing).

Mr. Impossible is supposed to talk to the counselor tomorrow morning, but I'm planning on dropping by to talk to the principal myself and ask what the hell's going on, what is going on with Lug, and do whatever is necessary to shake the fog out of their brains. This is RIDICULOUS.

Man, oh, man, do I wish we could afford private school!! Or to transfer him to a better district!!