Thursday, October 1, 2009

Options in October


First of all, I want to say thank you for the outpouring of support that followed my mental breakdown. Your comments were comforting and in some cases a lot more constructive than those of my colleagues' ("I'll pray for you" and "I'm going to throw some holy water at your room" were two I heard today...OK, I'm glad I'm not the only one who notices that my class is a 3-ring circus, but throw me a bone, people), and I'm touched to know that so many people out there were thinking of me and trying to help.

Now, the plan. We've put both William and Julio on a token economy system, where they can earn little cards that give them the privilege of going to the gym, the computer room, or art. And for William, at least, the last two days have been -- cautiously -- great.

Holy effing moly, did I really just say that? Knock on wood and cross your fingers, people. He raised his hand during Word Work. He sat up straight and flashed the quiet signal. And...this is the kicker...he successfully navigated a science experiment that involved using a sharpened pencil, clothespins, and a sharp, poky wire.

Last period.

After gym class.

OK, I just got chills down my spine, so I need to type that again slowly. I gave him sharp objects...last period...after gym class...and he was fine. He was better than fine; I started calling him "Professor William, the scientist."

That's the thing about William: He drives me to tears, and Xanax (oh yes, I said it), but every day I give him another chance. Today, during Word Work, he sat at his seat (the separate desk I set up just for him, with a little clipboard propped up next to him that says "William's Goals") and hollered, "I NEED HELP! I NEED HELLLLLPPPP!" And I thought: Ooooh, what an improvement! Because last week, he would have been tossing his Word Work book up at the ceiling and doing backflips on the carpet.

Of course, classrooms are full of yin and yang, and as William has been improving, his sidekick Julio has not. Today I had a long talk with Julio's first grade teacher after school. Our conversation revealed all sorts of interesting tidbits; the juiciest was that Julio has, in fact, been diagnosed with ADHD, but his mother doesn't want him on medication. Dear Julio's mother: For the love of God, give your son some Ritalin. I mean, I would respect her right to explore options other than medication if I actually thought she would, you know, explore options other than medication, instead of living in the gigantic bubble of denial she's created. Like, failing to show up for a meeting with me two mornings in a row because you bring him to school late every day? Doesn't really give me the impression that you're all that invested in how he's doing. And while we're at it, let's ask some other questions, like: Why does your son constantly draw pictures of people shooting and stabbing each other? Why does he shout curse words when he's angry? Why does he tell me he's going to kill himself? OK, seriously: Your seven-year-old threatens suicide when he's angry.

And he's angry a lot. This kid is not stupid. He knows he can't sit still, he knows he doesn't behave when all the other kids can. He's like an alcoholic who doesn't know how to quit because -- oh, right -- he's seven years old and needs more help than I can give him. Especially with 26 other kids in the class. One of whom is effing William! (Dear administration: What a fantastic idea it was putting these two kids together. Seriously, am I being punished or something? No love, Miss Brave.)

I would like to close with the unexpected, and much-needed, laugh I got last week when this happened:

Scene: Our classroom, dismissal. Chaos reigns. Papers fly. Schoolbags hit desks. A sweet little girl walks up to me and hands me a box of wipes.

"Miss Brave, my mom said to bring these in for the class."

I take the box. I say thank you. It is only when the day is over, and all the kids have gone home, that I retrieve the box to add to our collection. It is then I notice: They are not baby wipes. Or Clorox wipes. They are Preparation H medicated hemorrhoid wipes...and the box is half empty.



Ms. Peace said...

Love the preparation H tidbit! I found a kid putting vagisil on their lips once. Not kidding either.

Michelle said...

OMG on the 'wipes'!

Sounds like the mngmt system has started out well. Good luck from a fellow teacher!!