Wednesday, January 7, 2015

...and then there's his teacher (UPDATE at the bottom)

    Nixon's teacher has a "vibe" about him. She's made comments before, along the lines of him "getting his way" at home or him "not used to sharing attention", and there was a "an only child, mmmhmm" when we first met. 
    I've grit my teeth and ignored them. I smiled when she said to to me "He's a totally different kid around you", on a day I was called in to help Nixon for a kindergarten-wide event. I don't know how to respond to that. Aren't most kids different around their parents? Maybe not always for the best, but most kids behave differently when their parents are around. 

    Today, while discussing Nixon's school behavior with the IEP board members his teacher made a comment about Nixon not acting out at home like at school. I told the board, it's difficult to hear Nixon being described as he's been since school started because it felt as though it was someone else's child. It felt as though Nixon had a "Dr Jeckyl and Mr Hyde" situation, except that I'd never seen the bad personality. His teacher said something along the lines of  Nixon "gets to do what he wants at home". It's not the first time she's made a comment like this, but I'm damned sure making sure it will be the last time I don't respond. 
   Instead of going off on her in front of the group and taking the focus off of Nixon's needs, I decided to write an email when I got home. I didn't send it right away, I let it sit while I took Nixon to a play group.

    Here's what I ultimately sent:

Dear Mrs C, 
    First, let me say I realize Nixon is not an "ideal" student. And I appreciate the patience you've shown with him and techniques you've implemented in the classroom to accommodate him.

   However, I was offended by a comment you made in today's meeting and rather than addressing it in the group setting, I felt I'd come to you one-on-one about it.
    I'm not sure how or why you've got the impression that Nixon "gets his way" at home, but that was the comment you made in the meeting today and I feel I have to defend not only myself but my family. 
    Your exact comment was along the lines of "...and he gets his way" regarding Nixon at home. Yes, Nixon is an only child but he does not run things. Have I made accommodations for him? Of course, but you as a mother yourself can't say you don't do the same for your own children.

    If I was a parent that allowed my child to "run things", I wouldn't be reaching out to all resources to get him help. I wouldn't be making doctors appointments and setting up meetings at the school for testing. I wouldn't even admit my child had issues. But I do and have accepted that Nixon is "that kid" for you this school year. 
    What hurts me, as a mother, is that I feel you've unfairly judged Nixon (and my family as a whole) because he is an only child. This is not the first time I've gotten that impression from you, but I'd like it to be the last. Nixon is a child with multiple disabilities but he is far from spoiled.

    I do realize this message maybe seen as confrontational and I apologize for that. But I felt it needed to be addressed and I'd prefer not to do it in a group setting, as I previously mentioned. 

Thank you for your time.

   We'll see if she responds. I've sent emails before and it's hit or miss for response times. I sent one in late October....I'm still waiting for a response. 
   I just couldn't ignore the comments anymore. I needed to say something and I had to be able to control my temper. Email was the perfect solution. 

   There was a (surprising) response in m inbox this morning.

Mrs. B,
I am so glad that you reached out to me to share your thoughts.  My intent was never to judge or offend you or your family.  In no way did I mean to question your parenting skills or to imply that Nixon is a spoiled child.  When I shared that Nixon gets to do what he wants at  home, I was just trying to point out the difference between a home setting and a scheduled, structured school setting with high demands.

I do realize how much you work with and for Nixon and really appreciate your involvement and support.  I am glad to be part of the team that is helping him.  He is truly a sweet child, and I do enjoy having him in my class.
Thank you,


  1. Wow, his teacher is starting to sound more and more like a complete twat... I've had Nixon for the night, I didn't cater to him and he didn't make demands or freak out over not getting what he wanted (in some instances, I just didn't have what he was requesting, and he and I just "improvised"). Nixon is a very smart young man. I'm more concerned that the teacher is labeling him rather than dealing with the fact that he may be getting bored because the work isn't that challenging. I mean, he has already stated that he notices when they are doing repeated work and activities. That's not something I would expect from a student with disabilities. And I work with kids with special needs every day. Nixon's special needs are that he is not being properly challenged and you, like my parents, speak to him like he's an adult. My guess, the bitch is down right condescending rather than patient. I really am on the fence about writing to her myself... That said, she's lucky I don't know who she is. <3

  2. And even autistic children are known to have very high IQ's. (And yes, I get I may be biased, but fuck, I want to slap that woman! these kids need PATIENT Adults).

  3. That teacher needs to learn to word her thoughts better. I think it was meant to poke at you because in the past she has talked about suspending him and now she can't. I really wish Nixon could have a different, better teacher. Yes, school is more structured than home, but it should also have SOME leeway...not all kids are the same. hell, most kids are not the same.