Yesterday was one of those days. I knew it would be going into it. But guys, it was even more of a slog than I thought it would be. And praise be all that’s good in the world, I did not turn into the Kraken in front of the kiddo’s counselor and send the offender into the abyss. I’m edgy. I admit it. It’s been tough. But by the time startedared using Singapore Math to calculate his absences, I about lost it.
How is it that Tredyffrin Easttown School District can turn a pony-tail sporting, holiday-sweater wearing, chipper and ready for any turn of events mom into a steaming, salivating sea-monster? Oh, they make it easy.
This time, it was the district social worker who came close to meeting the beast at the discharge meeting for the munchkin, who will be back in school at the end of this week.
It was supposed to be a relatively innocuous call to set in place his return to school about which I am anticipating no problems at all. Things were looking good, for a change, and I was feeling relieved. And then there was the fingernails-on-a-chalkboard voice on the other end of the phone.
“Well, I think we need to be looking at an Intensive Outpatient Program for him, for two or three hours a day three or four days a week after school, and a mobile therapist to come to the house at least once a week, and his neuropsychologist needs to be changed, because well, he’s already missed 30 days of school this year. I know he’s got some medical things going on, but seriously? There are going to be repercussions for that. And Mom is hesitating about letting us evaluate him…”
She went on with other crap, but somewhere about there, I stopped hearing her voice because the cacophony of sounds exploding in my head and the fireworks going off in front of my eyes distracted me. I’ve been doing this single mom thing for a decade now, and I almost never think of me first, and if any part of me thought that this kind of intervention was necessary, I’d have been figuring out how to make it work. I’ve done things just as hard when it was required. But this epic know-it-all bitch has never even met my son. She’d never talked to the counselor about him before that moment. She’s never talked to his neurologist or neuropsychologist at CHOP. She referred to Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome as “oh, that joint thing,” in what anyone dealing with it would recognize as the ultimate insensitive brush-off of a complex, systemic set of issues that regularly changes and morphs and complicates.
I could feel the tentacles unfolding. Oh, the things that I wanted to say beyond the obvious, “Are you fucking kidding?” and “Shut the fuck up!” and “I am so ready to sue you to send him to a private school just so I don’t have to listen to this epic bullshit from people like you anymore.” So many things…
”Is this IOP going to happen after he goes to school for a full day? And is the mobile therapist coming after that? Or is that person coming on the days that he’s not doing the IOP? Is there any room for us to, you know, do LIFE or FUN or grocery shop or sleep?”
“So, you’re suggesting that after I fight the battle required to get him to go to school, you want me to pick him up, transport him to somewhere far, far away for this ‘IOP’ he will resist with the force of the Egyptian gods he’s currently studying on his own, then somehow work in dinner, homework and a visit with a mobile therapist he will hate?”
“Is there a bar at this IOP where I can sit and have some drinks and snacks and watch the news while I wait? Or am I gonna sit in the parking lot for ‘two or three hours three or four days a week’ while he does this? Will it have Wi-Fi for me to do some work, on my phone, I guess? Who’s picking up the tab for this shebang?”
“With due respect to the newly minted Master’s in Psychology working on their hours under someone else’s license that Devereux hires, they are the reason that I drive into the city once a week to meet with the Ph.D. at CHOP. And everyone who’s met my kid gets that. The fact that you haven’t and don’t is just more evidence of your unprofessional ineptitude and your willingness to wax on about things about which you know not a thing.”
“I just got his report card, and according to it, he’d missed 6 days by mid-November? Are you using the Singapore Calendar plug-in to the district’s Singapore Math to common core calculate these 30 absences now? “
“The last time I let your fuck-up of a school psychologist evaluate him, his IQ dropped 34 points from when the IU looked at him when he was 4 and 56 from when CHOP did it when he was 6, and both of those evaluators admitted that they’d stopped the testing because he’d stopped cooperating so his IQ is likely higher. She didn’t want to hear from me that he’d been over-tested and would be tough to engage. She didn’t want to hear that he’d blow the testing up if she gave him an opening. So she came back with an IQ of 98 before she admitted that the only way he’d agreed to take the test was if he was allowed to walk around being a robot and answering in robot voice and he stopped when the robot’s battery died. So, no, you’re not getting a second bite at that apple. Don’t mention her to me again, ever.”
I didn’t have to say those things, though. There must have been something on my face that the counselor who has actually met my child saw and interpreted because she smiled at me and put up her hand.
“I don’t think his insurance is going to pay for any of that because we’ve found no mental health issues at all. He’s not being released on medication. We’re recommending that he keep seeing the neuropsychologist to help him manage having a chronic illness and pain, and maybe a social skills group with other kids his age. Nothing else. We won’t support any of that. He’s a ten year-old.”
The woman from the district didn’t seem to know what to do with that. She mumbled something about emailing some information so that we could get a case manager and be assessed for “additional services” and said she’d meet my kiddo when he returned to school and speak with me about those programs she thought would help. Persistent, she thinks she is.
I’m going to call in a few minutes and make sure that doesn’t happen. I might reference “labeling theory” and my in-depth knowledge of “special education funding” and then I’m going to revoke permission for her to speak with anyone who cares for my son. Just one little tentacle there. Parenting a kiddo with any kind of special needs at all involves a loss of the privacy that most families take for granted. You give it up willingly because you want what’s best and often, collaboration among professional is required. But sometimes, it doesn’t hurt to take some of it back. And sometimes, it’s absolutely necessary if you’re able to take the long view of things.
Hopefully, they will get the message that I’m not playing around, and they will back up. If not, I’m ready to go full Kraken on them. Again.