So, Thursday I had the meeting with Caleb's Mother's Day Out director. Let me just preface this by saying that while I talk a good game, I am one to avoid confrontation at all costs. Just the thought of having to have this discussion with her made me break out into a cold sweat, but I knew that I had to be the grown up and do it. I got some much needed advice and a fabulous pep talk from my good friend Courtney. She never fails to boost my confidence!
The director and I sat in her office and had a rather nice conversation. We talked for around an hour about all the ins and outs of what she has seen in Caleb over the past nearly 3 years that he has been at the school. Come to find out, she has a son who has severe ADD and had a terrible time in school over the years. He turned out to be a great boy and is about to graduate from college, so most of her experiences with teachers have been far and away worse than what we have gone through in the past couple of years. The conversation just really cemented in my mind that we know Caleb best and that most of the time, the teachers really don't know the child, and frankly don't care to.
Sorry to fall back on bullets, but that is the best way for me to organize what we discussed. Here goes:
- We both agreed that we did not feel there was anything wrong with Caleb. She has seen the gamut of issues with kids through the years, not to mention living with one with a learning issue and one without, and I trust her judgement when she says that what was implied by Caleb's teachers is just not the case. So let's do a quick count here, 2 parents, 3 doctors, 1 speech pathologist and 1 diagnostician all say he's got nothing wrong. 2 Mother's Day Out teachers who don't really know my kid (coming later) say that he's ill. Hm. You do the math.
- The director totally supported our decision to take Caleb out and homeschool him on the days he would normally be in school. She even told me that she still lives with massive amounts of guilt over not doing that for her son, as he apparently needed it. To be perfectly honest, when I talk with friends and family who are educators themselves about our decision to homeschool, they become particularly silent. Not the silent where they are listening, but I can see them biting their tongues. This used to bother me, but I've learned to have confidence in our choices as parents. We know that Caleb is just excelling in this setting right now and he's not a bad kid, he just needs me and one on one time, so he'll get it.
- She was very open to listen to me about Caleb's health issues from the past and actually took into account the fact that those same health issues could be part of the problems here. One such example, Caleb was quite a severe aspirator until he was nearly 2. The muscles that are used for swallowing are also somewhat used for other things, um like speech (!). He also has issues with severe allergies and asthma and this time of the year is very difficult, healthwise, for him as he is on at least 6 medications daily. No one, and I mean no one, else at that school would listen to me when I tried to explain that to them. They just wanted to write him off as "that" kid. He's gotten somewhat of a label through all this and I'm working on ways to remedy that situation, or at least get him away from those teachers. In fact, one day I went to pick him up and they mentioned that he was coughing a lot while running around. I asked if they had given him his inhaler and, I kid you not, they asked if his had asthma. Um, what is that mountain of health information paperwork we filled out for? Did you even listen to me when I told you his inhaler is in the bag? Do you not talk to the other teacher, whom I told this to as well that morning? Needless to say, I medicate him BEFORE he goes now.
- We both feel like some of this is also coming from the fact that our Caleb is still having quite a difficult time acclimating to life with his sister. He seems to be doing better, but Jes and I are trying to make more of an effort to make sure he feel included and gets enough one on one attention. It is getting easier, as Piper is getting older and is a little less needy. When Piper was born, Caleb essentially lost his father, as he is just in love with her, and I was so caught up in the feeding/pumping/diapering/recovering from surgery game that it was almost impossible to give him the attention he had before she came along. I am not blaming Jes for any of this, he does blame himself though (one of his first comments after this all started happening was that he felt like he did this to him and that he caused this. We are working through this.), which is one of the worst things about parenting, thinking you did this to your kid. We have had to really talk our way through all this and are finally coming out on the other side.
The last part of this is that the teachers had to fill out a very abbreviated set of paperwork, similar to what we had to fill out on the skills that Caleb may or may not have. I didn't look at my copy until today, and I was furious after I read it. I had Jes read it too and he felt the same way. It is very apparent to me that these teachers, who have been with him for months now, don't even know our son. I'm not sure how they came to the conclusions that they did when they filled out the paperwork, but most of what they said he could not do, he in fact does do well with us. I know it's a very short time period of the week and I know that he's not cooperating, but my fear is that the diagnostician and speech therapist will put more stock into what they say than what we say. I'll be calling on Monday.
I think that's all about that meeting that was decided/talked about. Caleb will be having his tubes put in on the 15th of this month. The one issue that we are coming up against is that he HAS to pass a hearing test before they can do his complete speech evaluation on the 8th of January. We are hoping and praying that these tubes will help him do just that. After he has his tubes put in, we go back just about 2 weeks after the procedure and have another hearing test done. That's the one he needs to pass. If he doesn't, we reschedule the speech evaluation and try to figure out what our next step is. I hate the unknown!