October 20, 2002

Why I Hate the Phone

When you're a mother of a child with ADHD everything about being their mom becomes that much more complicated and magnified. It's barely into the school year already and I'm being stalked by the teachers. They love to jot down little notes that say things like, "It's a pleasure to have Snoo in the class this year. I'd like to get to know her better as she'll be the featured student of the week soon. Does she have any other interests besides chasing her neighbor with scissors and dumping plant water down the radiator?"All of this is written down on adorable note cards with apple border and friendly looking cartoon children. It's a nice touch. I've been working every night this week at the service desk and missed the conferences. Normally I would have the familiar twinge of mommy guilt; however, I try to make a point to miss her conferences. I prefer to go for conferences when the school is empty and I’m under the cover of dark and big hats. It cuts down on embarrassing and awkward meetings with other parents. Like the time I volunteered for a parent’s potluck and ended up chopping onions with a woman whose son rode Snoo's bus. She was one of those psycho PTA moms.

After chopping onions and getting brats ready for the potluck she finally asked me who my child was. Her child was in the 5th grade and Snoo was in 1st. (She was held back at the end of the year.) Her face got strangely grim and she began to give me the third degree.

“Your daughter was the one who stabbed my son!!!!!!!!!!?”

Oh dear God. Please, make me a bird so I can fly, far far away. Run, Melissa, Run.

“She's always annoying him on the bus. She bothers him. She makes up stupid songs about him and tells the kids she's going to marry him when she grows up. She pokes him. I've complained to the driver all year. When he finally told her to get lost she stabbed him in the p*nis with her pencil!”

Trying to compose myself, I respond with, “Oh. That was your son? I am so sorry. I don't know what to say. I have no idea why in the world she did that. I never advocate violence or poking another’s private with pencils. (Did I just say that?) I have no idea what possessed her to do such a thing.”

I suppose for integrity purposes, I need to back up a minute to a time during my own childhood. I haven't shared this with Snoo because I have to maintain the illusion that I was a perfect child. What I didn't tell this mom is that back in the 5th grade the class clown was seated in the back all by his lonesome where the pencil sharpener was. He was always getting in trouble and he was the typical loud, bossy trouble-maker who knocked you into walls and took your Twinkie. One day after he had bumped my arm one too many times while I tried to sharpen my pencil I used my kung-fu moves and stabbed him in the arm. He had to get a tetanus shot and his parent’s threatened to sue my mom for the medical bills. My mom told him he got what he deserved and after that the boy thought I was a rock star. It wouldn’t have mattered anyhow, they would have gotten nothing since I don’t think we even had any furniture at the time and the contents of the fridge amounted to one jar of pickle juice.

Back to this irate woman, “Did you know that he had to go get a tetanus shot for that? He was so embarrassed. She stabbed him in the penis for Christ sakes! What kind of little girl does that?”Well, a very angry one. Like duh. But I didn’t say that. She was literally holding a knife.

(Gulp) “She said your son was always mean to her and called her names.”“Your daughter is a brat and I can't believe a little girl could do such a thing. How are you raising that child? And I never heard anything from you. You don't have the decency to contact me to apologize.”“I don't know what to say, I am so sorry.

I’m thinking, what was supposed to do to do, call you up and ask how are your son’s crotch is feeling? They don't make hallmark cards for, “I’m sorry my child is prone to impulsive fits of anger and stabbed your mouthy son in the crotch.”

Our Snoo is as pretty and sweet as the next girl. Sometime she just acts like the terminator. I don’t understand it. I don’t condone it. I have taught her differently. We’re as confused as every one else. At least we know our girl can kick some butt if she has to. We just need to keep her away from sharp objects.

I wanted to go hide in the janitor’s closet and cry and it wasn't because of the onions.

Now, it's that time again for parent socials, open houses and conferences. This year’s teacher is very big on being organized, checking schoolwork and assignment notebooks which are all things an ADHD child needs. The problem is, she’s cold. My kid needs a teacher that can be warm and affectionate.

Her resource teacher picked this teacher for Snoo thinking she'd be good for her. Snoo doesn't like her at all and declared the teacher was mean before she ever met her. But anyone who tells her no or makes her do something she doesn’t want to is mean. This is a child that when sticking her head out the window, will bite the blinds because she’s mad at them for poking her in face.

The teacher didn't bother to read Snoo's IEP before school started. Now, I have a word of advice to teachers. If you have a student with an IEP there's probably a reason why. You might want to check the forms beforehand. It's especially helpful when you have a child whose butt is allergic to chairs and has in the past been known to wrap jump ropes around other children’s necks. That's something you might want to be prepared for. I’m just saying.

If the teacher had read the IEP, she would have known that she can't put a distractible child with unpredictable behavior and poor impulse control in the back of the class. Not a good thing. No, in fact, that’s actually quite stupid.

The teacher jotted down the following:

I'm making Snoo stay in during recess to complete unfinished class work since she works slow and gets off task. Snoo's missing details, not paying attention to directions, working too slow, forgetting things she's learned, forgetting her folder, books, assignment notebooks and so forth. An early intervention is desired.

That's a short list considering her extreme range of ADHD. She's lucky she's not sitting upside flinging her feet into the air while simultaneously spitting apple skins at people. She did this in first grade. I've always taught my children it's polite to share. I always work closely to manage the symptoms and undesirable behaviors of her ADHD, but work with me here. The teacher needs to follow the IEP or it doesn't work. Snoo will always need resource help no doubt, not only for weak subjects but for life management. The child would spend three hours on homework and then forget to turn it in because she forgot she even had a folder.

( No, I did not do drugs while I was pregnant. But if you're offering...)

The most asinine part is that she's holding her in during recess. Keeping a child indoors who has hyperactivity indicates a person has a poor common sense processor. I heard they sell those at drugstores these days. Next to the aspirin. If the constant notes and calls aren't fun enough, Snoo's been a little snot lately. It's difficult to tell sometimes how much of a connection you make with her. After seeing a lot of pediatricians they diagnosed her with three kinds of PMS. Psychotic Mood Shift, Pissy Mood Syndrome and Pardon My Sobbing. They're working on a genetic screening as we speak.

She’s often behaves erratically and then cries she's lonely and has no friends. It breaks my heart as a mom, but she doesn’t seem to be able listen. She's got a whole different world going on in her mind and it's not in this galaxy. I just love her anyways and stay on birth control. I think this is why God made most children adorable. Otherwise when we realize everything that’s involved with parenting, and feel totally unequipped, we might try and drop them off on someone else which would make them nothing more than pets.

Instead, we dig out their baby pictures and pretend days like this never happen.

I'm armed with a plan of action this year though. It's called Concerta. Thank God for medication re-checks. Both hers and mind.

No matter what, she’s my girl and I love her and instead of dwelling on the fact that she almot burnt the house down, I instead focus on her hearty giggle and contagious smile. She’s come a long way from the days when she didn’t even speak clearly. Now, we can’t get her to stop talking which is an understable complaint of her teachers. I don’t blame them, but what’s a mom to do? I do my best and spend a lot of time praying I don’t put them into therapy for the rest of their lives.

That’s all a mom can do. That and I get an answering machine.