Teaching Respect Without Respect…?

This is the e-mail that I received from my six year old’s teacher this afternoon… I’m actually livid at the moment, so if my response to her doesn’t say enough, I apologize. But only half-heartedly. Because I stand fully behind what I said.

Hello Denelle,                             October 7th, 2014

I wanted to discuss with you how Braeden is doing and some areas of concern that I have this year. It would be helpful for me to discuss this with you in person but I realize you are very busy too.

Braeden is a very sweet boy and has the ability to do very well in school! Most days he seems very tired and will just lay his head on his desk:( He also likes to play with things and many times is in his own little world. Sometimes it difficult to bring him out of that world.

Now that we have been in school for awhile and I have had the opportunity to get to know Braeden a little better, it seems as though he has a difficult time looking at me when I am teaching, and he has a need to play with things when it is listening time. He is very easily distracted and in the last couple of weeks he has cut his hair and his stuffed animal that he brought to school today. Can you help me understand, so I can find ways to help Braeden at school. We both want the best for him and I haven’t found anything that motivates him. This too is an area where I need your help. I want to work together with you so that Braeden has an awesome year in first grade.

I’m also concerned with the number of sight words he can read. Right now he knows 22 out of 60 words that we have had so far. Is there someone that can work with him each night on these words? Once he learns to read, no one can take that away from him.

Thank you for any insight so that we can help Braeden enjoy school and do well.

Your partner in education,
[Insert teacher name here]

While I appreciate her pre-programmed and seemingly scripted e-mail to help soothe anxious parents, what she neglected to mention is that she took that stuffed animal and threw it away, as well as taking away his scissors.  I’m technically fine with taking away both, but my response explains the rest:

Mary,

I’m not sure why Braeden seems to have such a hard time with his sight words at school. He practices them at home and misses only a handful of 60 at worst. As far as focus, it isn’t the first time the issue has come up for us as two of his older brothers have ADHD (one of whom lives in the same household). I’m hesitant to say that’s what he has or if he is just emulating his big brother’s behavior, because when they are apart from one another at home, he is a completely different person. However, he is around children who can be easily swayed into hyperactivity (as most 6 year olds can with/without an instigator) and that is probably part of the problem if he is seated near anyone he feels he can amuse or entertain or “impress.” His 10 year old brother was the same way. He can be somewhat self-conscious and shy at times because of it, but I’m sure that it leads to episodes of acting out and “over-acting” to compensate. A very valid reason I will not start him on medication just yet.

That being said, I’ve read the episodes about the scissors on all occasions they have come home. He has been talked to quite sternly on all occasions. “Don’t cut your hair. Don’t act like you’re going to cut other people.”, etc., and grounded from video games. Today, however, has me quite upset and I’m surprised that I can actually type this up as calmly as I am and in logical terms, albeit somewhat dry and “medical,” if you will.

My problem is this:

Braeden has explained to us the extent of the damage that he did to this stuffed animal, which was not actually his, but something that his 4 year old brother allowed him to take to school because Braeden was told he was allowed to one day this week and that, being his favorite game and a favorite character, is what he chose to bring. He has impulse-control issues; I understand that. So do many (most) children. He also has issues remembering things he was admonished not to do prior because his mind is constantly going 100mph and, again, his desire to make people laugh, even inappropriately, takes over. Again, so do many (most) children. If not, most parents would not feel like a broken record player, even though most kids these days have no idea what the saying even means when we say it.

What I’m getting to is this: he informed us that the damage he did was a minor snip wherein no damage was truly done. If that is not, indeed, the case, and you can show me otherwise that it was unable to be salvaged with a needle and thread, then I can understand a first instinct to toss it into a garbage can. However, the correct response is to package it in one of the plethora of gallon Ziploc bags that are provided at the start of the school year and return it to the parents so that the parents can decide what to do with the aftermath. It is not your place to throw out anyone’s personal property other than your own and it is our place, as his parents, to decide if he should have it back.

I feel that you owe my son an apology, if not a search through the trash for his brother’s belongings, as I also feel that he owes you an apology for disrupting the classroom. However, he’s 6. I’m certain he isn’t the only one at that age to do so since I just had 15 of his friends in my home for his and his brother’s birthday party this weekend.

Disrupting is part of the territory and part of learning what is and what is not acceptable in class.

Learning that it’s ok for someone to disrespect your property while telling you to respect theirs is not something I think he should be learning.

Sincerely,

Denelle Wolff

—–

First post in 2 years… and it took a first grade teacher to bring it.

Posted in General, My Babies | 1 Comment

Mommy Dearest

I received this letter from my mother when I was 27 and filing for divorce. I was livid and fired off a scathing response first thing, hitting send without any reservation, severing my ties with her for good.

Excerpts from The Letter

Are you ever going to get help for yourself? And why is it that anything you do is supposed to be okay? Everyone else is always wrong, aren’t they? You’ve been a spoiled little girl all your life.

And yes, I know how you’ve told everyone you were so abused as a child. I don’t know whose childhood you relive all the time but it wasn’t yours. Who knows, past is past.

All I know is all you kids were raised with the same principles and morals and you’re the only one that’s always been dishonest. And you know what’s so sad is that you’re dishonest with yourself. A lot of your problems stem from guilt for all the wrong you’ve done to others and yet you hurt yourself the most with it.

I’ve been there for you through an abortion, a miscarriage, the birth of my grandson, your marriage. Anytime you needed me I was there for you. How quickly one forgets.

You need to come to terms with all you’ve done wrong and learn to forgive yourself. Until you do you won’t be happy in any relationship.

Hate me if you must. We know it’s because you know I’m right.

Love, Mom

Excerpts from The Response

‘Anytime you needed me I was there for you.’

That’s the most ludicrous thing I’ve ever heard. You were there with me through an abortion because you had to be in order to force me to have it done, when what I wanted to do was give it up for adoption. You were there with me through a miscarriage because it was mandatory that the hospital have your consent to treat me. You fail to realize that you are not a perfect parent. You fail to realize that when I needed someone on a deeper level than just as a requirement between the ages of 14 and 17, you offered nothing.

What baffles me to no end right now is the fact that in the last 5 years, you have not made a single effort to contact me. You came out for my wedding, have met and spoken to my “husband” only as many times as we have been up there, and yet suddenly you feel you know our entire situation.

I guess what confuses me is how you could have so little interest in my life and suddenly you’re as involved as though it were your own relationship. It’s not and it never was. Your relationships have not all been picture perfect, and never once have I ever heard you take even partial blame for the failure of one of them.

That seems to be the one base difference between me and you: I admit to my shortcomings.

Sorry if you think my leaving for the very valid reasons that I did means I am “playing the victim.” I’m not. He and I both had a part to play in this and apparently I’m the only one admitting any of it.

I will probably hold parts of the conversation you had with [my ex] against you for a very long time because he did tell me what was said. So either you were lying to him, or you were lying to me – again. Whichever one it is, I don’t have it in me to care anymore.

__________________________________________

At 32, seventeen years after the events that changed my life forever, the last letter I received from my biological mother resurfaced. I did the only thing I could do in response to it, despite the response it did get when I’d first received it five years prior:

The Unsent Letter

I’m not bothering to send you this letter because I know that it wouldn’t do any good.

I wish you could see how you have emotionally crippled me to a point that I cannot get anything back.

I wish that after 17 years I could be over this same old bullshit that sideswipes me from out of the blue every now and again.

I wish that my fucking idiot of a sister would just acknowledge everything for once and see what it is that she has contributed to this.. and, perhaps if you hadn’t allowed her to be so fucked in the head as well, she would have had the presence of mind and the feelings of self-worth that could have led to something more than just “settling” for her pedophile husband.

Of course, I am the only one still living in the past, still reliving what you, and everyone else, said and did.

You admitted to me that you thought our stepfather molested us both; that it was the reason you sent her to live with her father.

Your ultimate solution was not to divorce him for the safety of your children, but to “watch him more closely.”

Just as your ultimate solution where the family was concerned was to stand behind my sister’s disbelief to, as you said, protect her from being hurt.

What about my hurt?

You admitted that you had no doubts that I had told you the truth when it came to what your son-in-law did to me two months before my 15th birthday. You even told me that he did it as revenge against my sister for the affair that she had. You told me all of that long after I suffered the damage of growing up in a house being shunned by everyone for my “lies.” For one brief moment, I had a small amount of vindication.

To my detriment, I thought you would stand by those words, but years later you revoked every last one of them behind my back to my (then) soon-to-be ex-husband by telling him that it was all lies; sympathizing with him about how fucked up your daughter was and how sorry you were that I hurt him and how desperately I needed therapy to overcome this need I have to gain attention from everyone by fabricating a life that I never lived.

I cut you from my life after that.

Your apparent response was no response. No attempt at apology, not that I could actually take it seriously anymore, all things considered.

The only thing you have ever been consistent with is finding new ways to open the old wounds and I ran out of bandages long ago.

As long as we ignored every problematic issue between us we were fine… or, rather, as fine as we could ever hope to be. I wish I could be happy with that as a relationship, but I can’t. So instead, I opt for nothing.

I’m not happy with that, either.

I hate hating you, but I don’t see any other way to protect myself from further damage: the damage I know you could inflict if I gave you that opportunity. I hate hating you because I don’t think you do any of these things intentionally, but the fact that you do the majority of these things blindly is even more dangerous. I hate hating you because it means explanations to my children I’d rather avoid.

I hate hating you, but it seems to be my only safe option.

Posted in My Babies | Leave a comment

Too Slow

His face was etched with malice. She cringed. Why was he always so angry? He approached slowly, intently. She backed away with equal intent. Too slow. He lunged.
____________________

This post was written in reponse to a prompt by Write On Edge.

Compose a post in the form of a text – 160 characters.

Your text must elicit or express fear.

Posted in Red Writing Hood, Write on Edge | Leave a comment

The ADHD Puzzle

We have set my 7 year old up with therapy appointments.

I’m pretty sure, at this point, that the ADHD comes from both sides of my family, having had the time to reflect on things.

The woman doing my son’s psychological evaluation called me out on my potential affliction because of the way I speak and the way I jump from subject to subject simply by sidetracking myself with a simple, meaningless, comment.

He explained it to me the other day perfectly: “I hate when I’m trying to listen or think and then my eyes get all blurry and I’m just staring somewhere.”

His focus is gone, no matter how much he wants to (or knows he should) listen (or think). And by the time he gets back to the subject at hand, he has no idea what he was even thinking about that distracted him.

It sucks. Trust me, I know.

And I know how much more frustrating it has to be for a kid.

He wanted to go back on his Focalin about 3 weeks ago after the teacher moved the kids’ seats around and he was placed next to other second graders who were already working on multiplication (!!); he said it would “make him smarter.” I let him because I wanted to see how he would do in a new grade, a new school, with a pill on which his former teacher at his former school had said she noticed no change.

I see some changes. Some good. Some just a badly magnified version of what we were already dealing with simply because of fatigue at the end of the day.

There is no easy answer in this ADHD puzzle, and I wish there was.

There are pieces to it that have the same image as the rest of the pieces around it, but the shape is slightly different.

And I can’t force them in.

All I can do is sit and wait for them to reshape themselves through the proper channels of therapy and medication and pray that, someday, they will fit the way they were meant.

The way that will make him happier than he is. More focused. More self-assured.

We will get there.

We have to.

Posted in My Babies | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Autocorrect Fails: They’re Blazing Tasty

Anyone who has seen my Twitter rants knows that I was less than pleased with the phones that we had purchased last year. coughSamsungAcclaimcough

Finally someone listened and helped us along with a trade-in for two new phones… which are a vast improvement over the old ones, but which also come with the lovely autocorrect feature.

I thought it would be fun to post a collection of all of our massive autocorrect fails here. Enjoy!

____________________

As I’m getting ready to renew my driver’s license:

Jeff: Getting ready for your big test this afternoon?

Me: Test???? There’s a TEST?? Tell me you only mean of the eye variety. And, yes, psychedelic OUT! LOL

Me: Whoa.

Me: Psyched, not psychedelic. That’d probably duck with the vision test.

Me: Dammit. I CALL FOWL!

Me: Haha.. see what I did there?
____________________

After I sent a picture of a pile of plaster chunks on the garage floor that I had dumped out of a vaporizer.

Me: That was all the crap that fell out when I turned it upside down to get one of the kid’s toys out of it.

Jeff: Wow!

Me: The whole inside is just faked in plaster dust. =/

Me: And by faked, I mean caked. Stupid autocorrect.

Jeff: LOL Nut gross.

Jeff: Damnit!

Me: LMAO What was that???

Jeff: Should have been but gross not nut gross.
____________________

Jeff: Spent 45 minister trying to put music on my phone this morning with no luck…..

Me: Minister eh? That’s what you get for always misspelling minutes. =P
____________________

Me: Holy crap. Netflix has a streaming app and it actually works!

Me: I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT THAT!

Jeff: No likking!

Me: Um. Ok.

Jeff: Damnit! That was supposed to be no kidding.
____________________

Me: What the help is GeekBuddy?

Me: Hell, not help.

Me: Stupid phone. Why would hell not be a saved word already??

Jeff: Geek buddy was something that came with cpmpdo.

Me: WHAT…?
____________________

After Jeff had spent 45 minutes (or minister, whatever) fixing all the duplicates in his contacts list:

Jeff: BTW my contacts are all ducked up again. Grrrrr

Me: Quack…

Jeff: Damnit
____________________

Regarding the phone’s speed both on and off the WiFi:

Jeff: Hadn’t really tried it before but these things are blazing tasty even off the wireless.

Me: I can see where this autocorrect feature is going to keep me amused for a long time.

Jeff: Ah fuck.
____________________

Heehee!!

Posted in Autocorrect Fails, General | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: Myth vs. Reality

Posted in My Babies, Wordless Wednesday | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Loud and Clear

I watch as the water runs in a compilation of rapid rivers from the kitchen faucet.

My wrist reveals what I’d already known from the thousand times I had checked it before: not too hot; not too cold.

The tiny bundle in my other arm peers up at me, forehead wrinkled in the questioning calm that running water never fails to bring. His eyes are a deep granite with slivers of blue cutting through to his pupils. I always feel, looking into them, that eyes as deep as his must know something that I do not, especially now.

He simply stares at me, never doubting or questioning me as I remove his diaper and place him gently in the swirling liquid. The sound of water parting as petite baby flesh is placed within captures me and I watch him as he absorbs his new environment, awaiting the cries of angst I had heard from many a previous sibling.

He is, instead, silent. Complacent. Observant.

Tiny toes, skin still peeling from their adjustment to a much less liquid environment, flex and curl above the water as I run a shampoo-covered hand through dark hair, my other placed beneath him to keep him from sliding on the white porcelain. The clean scent of his baby bath reaches my nostrils as I lather him.

I watch as the bubbles form in the water, surrounding and clinging to his skin. He stretches within my hand and I can’t help but marvel at how someone so tiny can still show the telltale signs of cellulite when flexing his thin limbs.

I smile at him while he looks up at me, bubbles etching patterns around him that he won’t begin to notice for many months. His fingers flex and fan in the space between us as his water begins to cool.

Making sure I have his towel ready, I reach beneath him to pull the drain from the bottom of the sink. His fingers grasp at one another, locked together in their exploratory struggle, as the water drains below.

The moment I begin to lift him from the sink, his silence starts to dissipate. There is no longer trust on his face; no longer calm in his eyes.

Anger reddens him as cooler air hits his wet skin and his mouth forms a perfect oval of disdain.

At first, there is still silence.

And then… his opinion is heard.

Loud and clear.
Continue reading

Posted in My Babies, RemembeRED, Write on Edge | Tagged , , , | 32 Comments