I am a wife, and stay-at-home mother of 3 boys (with a 4th on the way!) so it goes without saying that my life can be summed up in 2 words - organized chaos. I've always loved to write and being a mom gives me great material. I started my personal blog, More Skees Please, in 2008 when my son Aiden was born with a rare craniofacial condition. Ever since then, writing has been an outlet for me. I love sharing about my family, the challenges of motherhood, raising a special needs child and the everyday ordinary stuff that makes it all worth it. Enjoy!
September 27, 2013 | 09:26 AM
We are a little more than 6 weeks into the school year. For weeks, I was getting good reports from the boys – they were making friends, enjoying their teachers and learning a lot. And then something happened on the bus that broke my heart. Perhaps I got a little too confident that things were going to be smooth sailing all the time.
Before school started, I had a one-on-one meeting with Aiden's teacher so I could discuss his diagnosis, answer any questions, and reinforce that I am always willing to talk about my amazing little guy with students, staff and parents should the need arise. I shared with her the All About Aiden book I made that I've read to Aiden's classmates in previous years at preschool and pre-k. I asked her to let me know how things go the first few days and to report back if she has any concerns.
I introduced myself to the school counselor, the vice-principal and principal. I proactively voiced my concerns and my eagerness to advocate and raise awareness for my son.
At Aiden's initial IEP meeting last week, I was relieved to hear from several school personnel that Aiden is adjusting extremely well. "He has so many friends and is a joy to have in class", his teacher told me. "He is just so smart," the speech therapist gushed. "That is one happy little boy," the school psychologist assured me.
They went on to say they've not witnessed any unkind behavior from his classmates or even heard any questions or remarks about his physical differences.
Wow! Could it really be this easy? Could we really be so blessed to have such accepting kids all around him?
And then, just as my defenses started to go down and I began to tell myself I need to stop waiting for the bad and be thankful, I got some disheartening news.
Ethan, my 1st grader came home from school the other day and told me he was pulled from class to go to the office. Of course I thought, uh oh…not good. He said that he was sent to the school counselor's office where she asked him about the boy on the bus who was calling Aiden names.
"Wait, what boy?" I interrupted. This was the first I was hearing of it.
"The older boy who was nice but then started calling Aiden dinosaur hands and Dracula face," Ethan replied nonchalantly.
"When did this start? Why didn't you tell me?" I said in a panic, heartbroken that I had been putting my 5 year old on the bus with someone everyday who was being mean and I had NO CLUE!
"It started a few days ago," Ethan said. "The 5th grader who Aiden has sat with a couple times, he asked if he could be our friend, then asked our names. I told him our names and he asked if he could call Aiden dinosaur hands instead. So I turned to Aiden and said 'would you like that Aiden?' When he said no, I told him 'no, you can call him Aiden because that's his name'. When he didn't stop, I told the bus driver."
"Why didn't you tell me?"
He went on to tell me that the counselor said the 5th grader told her that Ethan called Aiden that as well so he thought it was okay. Ethan said that wasn't true and the counselor asked him if he was saying the 5th grader was lying.
This is where mama bear really started stirring. You mean to tell me that my 1st grader was basically accused by a 5th grader of calling his own brother a horrible name (one which I've never heard until now) and then the counselor asked Ethan if the older boy was lying? Not to mention that all of this had escalated from the bus to a school staff member, and then my child was called from class…and I HAD NO IDEA ANY OF THIS HAD TAKEN PLACE? Not happy.
I'm not sure why my boys never told me about what was going on. Although I'm proud of Ethan for telling the bus driver. But I feel that I should have been notified the minute the school found out about the situation. And especially before my child was questioned about it by the school counselor.
When I asked my boys about the situation, Aiden seemed to be truly unaffected by it. He wasn't outwardly sad about the boy's hurtful comments. He wasn't scared to get on the bus. For that I am grateful. But I reminded them how important it is to tell mommy if something like this ever happens again.
I sent an email to the counselor that evening and a left a voicemail this morning. I expect to hear back immediately and want to know exactly how it was handled up to this point, and how it is going to be addressed going forward.
Look, I get it, kids can be mean. My expectations are not that Aiden will never encounter these types of situations. That would be naïve. But I do expect for the school to handle these incidents in a proper and timely fashion. And most importantly that I am not kept out of the loop.
The good news is, this has not dampened my boys' spirits. They are still loving school and I am determined to make this a positive learning experience for all of us in the end.