Thursday, November 5, 2015

Some of the worst weeks of my life: a school story

You know how Facebook kicks up memories in "On This Day" last year, two years ago, etc.? Well, in case you don't know, they do. I know they don't bring up everything. They don't even seem to bring up the things that got the most Likes and Comments. I don't know how the metric works. My favorite dog in the world died a year ago and it didn't mention it, though I know I posted about it and got a lot of condolences (and it wasn't even my dog).

So anyway, this morning, it decided that I really wanted to remember how three years ago, my middle child, then in fifth grade, refused to go to school.

He's never liked going to school, but he had become more and more difficult about it. We went through a period of him locking himself in his room or the bathroom, us dragging him out. Finally, in November 2012, he completely freaked out. It was like wrestling a wild animal, including incoherent howling and him escaping from the car.

"Epically shitty morning here today. It's 11 am and unless I physically hold him in the car and hold his seat belt on him, DS2 isn't going to make it to school."

Within a week or so, I realized we were never going to get him back to school. I never EVER wanted to homeschool ANYONE. And to end up homeschooling the one who was the biggest behavior problem? Oh joy.

He also refused to go to soccer practice or games unless he felt like it. We dragged him to the doctor, who suggested we check him into a psych ward. Boy, that was helpful. We tried counseling; I had to hold him still so he would stay in the car on the way there, but he wouldn't get out to meet with the the woman. So we only tried a few times, because $100 an hour for her to talk to a completely non-responsive child in our car? Uh, no thanks.

And since the school would do exactly nothing to help talk him into class, or find out what was wrong (I'd been pushing for dyslexia testing for YEARS), or send home work so we could do it until the situation cooled...Well, that was the end of that.

It was one of the worst periods of my life.

I registered him with a homeschool charter, but it didn't officially start until January semester. Half the time, he would freak out and lie on the couch with his back to the room. I read to him a lot that year. We were mostly feeling our way around the curriculum. Some was totally stupid (for anyone, in my opinion, but especially for someone with trouble memorizing), some was just not interesting, and some he just didn't like. Other stuff went OK.

Do you have any idea how hard it is as an author, as someone who has always loved writing down stories, to have a kid who hates hate hates writing anything

I eventually had to quit the part time proofreading work I was doing because I couldn't keep up. I didn't get any writing done for months.

And that was the first year I lost at NaNoWriMo, after winning for several years in a row. I still haven't finished that book. I'm not sure I want to. It's a gloomy YA with a weather mage who's a maladjusted juvenile delinquent who deliberately causes a storm at his high school and some people are injured, including the girl he has a crush on. I'm not sure I even want to read it, even though my goal was to make him try to redeem himself.


I finally got him this year in for an assessment and yes: dyslexia, ADD, auditory processing issues. And he's smart. I knew all that, but it's nice to have someone present it in language that maybe schools will pay attention to.

These days, we're looking at high schools. Like regular, mainstream high schools. In a way, I'm really worried about it. MY BABY. He had so much failure, even in the alternative-ish school he went to through half of fifth grade. I don't think he could cope with failing again now. We have to work up all the plans and accommodations and even then, I'm going to worry about him so much.

But he has gone from hitting and keening to a shy but mostly cheerful guy. He's gone from a stack of trouble to the kid I'm closest to because I spend the most time with him.

(He's not my favorite, because I don't play favorites. I would love to have the opportunity to spend as much time with my other kids one on one. There just aren't enough hours in a day and my oldest has gone all sphinx-like teenager. He'll talk to me if I press him, but what's really in his head? It's a secret.)

He's gone from being stuck in math and slipping lower because they wouldn't let him move on until he memorized his times tables to a guy who can keep up (with tutoring from his mom and using a calculator) in Algebra class. Memorizing something as intangible as a times table is really hard and even useless for some people. Heck, it was useless for me. It was through using the numbers to solve actual math problems that I learned them.

He's gone from having to do a spelling book with really stupid exercises as homework every week and still failing the tests to doing a thing called Sequential Spelling, which is more about learning the patterns for spelling and phonics by doing a list of closely related word for several days in a row. Unscrambling the spelling words in the stupid spelling book was just about the worst possible way to teach a dyslexic how to spell.

Now I look at him and instead of seeing fear of failure, I see hope.

That sounds cheesy.

But damn, I'm a great teacher.

Lately, my third child, who's only in second grade, has been begging to be homeschooled. I keep saying that NO, I don't want to have to try to juggle the two of them. The way they interact with each other, too, either silly together or making each other mad, would be 100% not conducive to learning anything at all. I know that after a period of time, they would settle in. Maybe. But JUST NO. She has a really good teacher and is learning so much stuff that there is no way I would pull her out.

It's not completely off the table of course, but it is way down my list of things I want to do, especially as I'm trying to write and develop a career, no matter how small.

So that's my long, rambling thing about November. I've already done my fictional words for the day, so decided to blog. I didn't realize I had this much to say.

1 comment:

  1. And OF COURSE my homeschool boy is being slow/wandering off/whining about Algebra today. We're going to be doing homework over the weekend. WHEE!