Why Tiger is Happier Here

It has been just over 6 months since we moved from Plano, TX to Odessa, TX.

The timing of the move was a little rough. It was April. So the kids only had about 6 weeks left of their school year. We showed up here not knowing what to expect from this school system.  Husband and I had both come up through Odessa schools but wondered if times had changed. Things in the Plano schools were strict. Silly things like not being able to bring homemade cupcakes to school. Things like having to wait in 30-40 minute line of cars to pick up your child from school because they weren’t allowed to walk out on their own to your vehicle. Things like having to show a picture ID  every time you entered the school.

Anyway, I digress.

I was especially nervous about what Tiger would have to deal with. He was in for a big change. Things were not very good at his school in Plano. He hated school. He had been steadily growing more violent over the last 2 years. ( Before that he had an extremely wonderful teacher. He was learning in leaps and bounds. Then she got a better job in a district two towns away from us. I don’t think he ever warmed up to the new teacher.) )There were a very small amount of kids in his room and yet the teachers seemed to not be able to help him learn anything. He was not only not meeting his educational goals he was going backward! He was picking up bad behaviors that he didn’t have before. He came home everyday bruised and scratched. All from self abuse as far as I know. Yes, he was very self abusive. He even started to hit his siblings and parents. Things were getting very scary. Something was going on but I didn’t know what.

The school was no help at all. What used to be a very open environment now seemed like a lock down situation. We were asked not to show up unannounced for fear that it would be disruptive to class. Then we were told to give a 24 hour notice before showing up in his classroom. Wait, what?

Then we moved. Honestly I think his school was glad. He was for lack of better terms a problem child. Strong willed. Non verbal. Obsessive/compulsive. Strong as an Ox.

So with all of that swirling in my head I went to enroll him in his new school. Gulp. They knew we were coming. I walked into the office and was greeted by several friendly faces. One of the men immediately took Tiger to go play in a different room so the grown ups could talk and do paperwork. I followed the ladies to what would soon be Tiger’s new classroom.

His new class had about 22 students. The room was big and colorful and full of life. The vibe I got from this room was so warm and friendly that all I could feel was a huge sense of relief. I saw other non verbal kids acting just like my son (on his good days.) I really felt he’d like it here.

The next day I dropped him off for school and the inevitable happened. He didn’t want to go in. He laid out on the ground. Three people struggled to get him in the door. I watched helpless. Finally they told me just to leave and they would handle getting him in the class. I drove off, crying.

Later that day they called me. He was not having any of this new school. The only solution they could come up with was to put him in a small windowless room, with gym mats on the wall. They moved a desk in there and a few chairs. They had a room like this in Plano too. A room where the child could go to if they needed to get quiet and calm down. This padded room was going to be his new “classroom” until he could learn to follow the rules.

All that new found relief went flying out the window. What could I do now? I don’t have the resources or the strength to home school him. I could never teach him how to get along as well as a good teacher could. He’d never listen to me. I’d never find a place for him to interact with other kids his age. No one wants to be near him! No one could control him! He couldn’t control himself enough to enjoy school like he used to.  I felt hopeless.

His teachers assured me that they could handle this. Their good attitude was comforting but I still had my doubts. He finished the remainder of the school year in that little room. He went to summer school with the same teacher he had during the school year. He was calming down, settling in. Then she broke the news: She wouldn’t be his teacher the following year.

Summer ended and school started again. I met his new teacher. She seemed very nice and very capable. Dare I say strong willed? (I like that in a person by the way.) I held my breath and said a little prayer and we started out on the same path: little blue room.

His new teacher did not want him in a little blue room. Her main goal was to get him in her classroom with the other 22 kids. Lofty, I thought.  Then about a month into the school year it happened again. I showed up to pick him up after school and they couldn’t get him out to my car. They asked me to come to the room to see if I could get him to come with me. I got there and he was on the floor. He was in the throes of a major fit. Why? He wanted a book that his teacher put in her desk. She told him “no” and he wanted it anyway. He grabbed it from her desk drawer. Again, the answer was “no.”  Now we had entered the battle of wills. If we gave in now he would win this battle. He would know she was a pushover. She wasn’t going to let that happen. I wasn’t either.  20 minutes later we were still on the floor trying to get him to give up the book. I finally called his Dad. By the time Dad got there Tiger was wearing down. He finally gave up and walked to the car with us. The battle was over and Tiger lost.

Later that week there was a Field Trip to the County Fair. I volunteered to go and help with him. I met his class in the parking lot of the Fairgrounds. Tiger rode the bus and had been behaving really well. Then it happened. On the walk through the displays of antiques and collectible things he spotted something he thought he had to have. (Let me preface this by saying that Tiger LOVES M&M’s. Very much an obsession with him. ) He saw a toy M&M car that was exactly the same as the one he got for Christmas the previous year. He went for it and of course we had to stop him. Again the battle raged. He tried everything to get to that little car. He laid out, and there we all were again, trying to get him to calm down and walk right. I tried to give him the real M&M’s I had in my purse. He threw them in anger. But he didn’t win this battle either.

Again I had to call Dad. By the time Dad got there he started to calm down. We left to my car in a hurry. Now I feared the lesson he was learning was that if he wanted to see his Dad all he had to do was lay out and have a huge fit.

Hello Square One, it’s us,  again.

The next week went by with no incident. Then the next one, and the next one. His teacher kept me updated everyday about how he was doing. He was spending little chunks of time in the classroom and out of the little blue room. He was eating lunch in the cafeteria with everyone else. More weeks went by and now he is NOT in the little blue room at all.

She did it! Tiger did it!

These days he can’t wait to get to school. He is happy. He doesn’t injure himself like he used to. He’s learning and he’s being social.

Now about that little blue room. The teachers at the Odessa schools called the Plano teachers back when they were having lots of trouble with his behavior. It turns out that Plano kept my son isolated in their little blue room most every day, for several hours a day, for two years.  THAT is why we couldn’t drop in whenever we wanted. That is why he hated school.

I hope Tiger can forgive me for not being more strong willed and for not being more diligent. I really had no idea his teachers  would or could do such a thing. They made me believe it was his problem.

Thank God we moved here.

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5 Comments »

  1. Jim Said:

    Hi, Echo! A song comes to mind: “Hey, it’s good to be back home again!”
    It seems like you were gone forever, or longer if that is possible. Anyhow, welcome back!
    Boy, after reading your post about starting Tiger in school, I have determined, if I ever get into a jam, I want you on my side!’chuckle’
    I love Odessa. When I first went there and lived on Ada, (I can’t remember if it was East or West) in 1949 one thing I remember was watching raindrops make little puffs in the caliche dust of the road as a rain cloud approached. It looked strange to actually see the raindrops coming down the street!
    Thanks for stopping by. Donna and I will call you and BWH for a cup of coffee if we ever get to Odessa!

  2. Jim Said:

    Oh, by the way, you can put faces to us at our You Tube site. They ain’t professional but they are fun! ‘yuk’
    http://www.youtube.com/user/JCandDonnaLee

  3. Jon Said:

    Hey there… I’ll be back to read more

  4. Jim Said:

    ‘oops’ I just noticed I had been signed in to one of my other blogs when I left the message above. Sorry about that! I’ll bet you wondered who that guy was who was being so familiar with you. It’s me, Jim. Thanks for linking me. I have you with BWH. All above are family.
    Love ‘n stuff, ,Jim

    P.S.

  5. Jim Said:

    “oops’ again… I hope I got this right this time. Too many irons in the fire. If I send you to the wrong place this time, I’ll soak my head in the toilet! Jim


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