Thursday, May 15, 2008

Two Down, One To Go

You might recall our recent issues with Noah and his anger/sadness/hyperactivity. At home, things with Noah have been going much better since my epiphany that he needs to be innundated with acceptance and to rise to his challenge when he says he doesn't belong in the family. I work hard not to get angry, or dragged into his funk, but to just stay calm and positive and insist he is loved and nothing he can do and nothing he can say to us will ever make us love him any less.

And the challenges and dark moods have been subsiding. He still does it occasionally but sometimes they are faked, or habit and he can easily be steered out of those bad moods. None of them have been severe or long lasting since that night I held him in his bed.

At school is a whole 'nuther story.

At school he has a different problem entirely that we don't really have much of a problem with at home. He seems to be very hyperactive, doesn't follow the rules at times (forgets to raise his hand, etc), and he is constantly making verbal noises as if he were scatting or something and distracts the other students.

On the advice of the school guidance counselor, we filled out the Connors Scale evaluation to see if he has ADHD. We fill out one, his teacher fills one out, and then the school nurse evaluates the scores. Based on the final score, they tell us if we should take him to see the pediatrician for a diagnoses. We filled ours out a week ago and are still waiting for any word back.

Meanwhile, I went in to pick up Noah on Tuesday, who had had a really bad day in class. They come home everyday with "color cards" telling the parents what kind of day they had. A green card means a great day (behavior-wise), and below that are the yellow card and red card (like a stoplight, I guess) and lastly the dreaded blue card.

On Tuesday, he ended up with a yellow card, but his teacher informed me that he would not be going to the Zoo with the rest of the class on Monday if he had anything below a green card for the last three days of the week. He was one of five kids on "parole", as it were.

We had a long talk with Noah.

I knew if he went down from green to yellow early in the day, he was likely to go into his funk and get bitter and sullen about missing the zoo. I convinced him that if he moved down to yellow he had to consider it the start of a game to be the PERFECT STUDENT! If she asked them to sit at their desk, he should get there first and fold his hands. If they were asked to line up, he should get there right away and stand tall and quiet! Not that I expect perfection from him... I just want him to think of yellow as a challenge to move back up to green, not to give up and get bitter and angry.

And so far, it's worked! He has gotten two green cards and his teacher says that he has been "an angel"! Pray that it holds out one more day. I can't even imagine how angry and full of despair he will be in if the whole class gets to go on a field trip and he is left behind. His issues are about acceptance and social esteem.

Leaving him behind will not help that.

But, on the other hand, a good strong lesson in the control of his impulses wouldn't hurt either.


gpc said...

I agonized over this story and I'm likely to ramble on, so I’ll tell you the punch line first: I think you are handling this very well.

Reading this, I was torn between being just so frustrated with the one-size-fits-all concept of education (when all studies show that not all boys Noah’s age are able to sit quietly and still, and that it isn’t bad or hyperactive for perfectly normal kids to need constant motion if it isn’t creating havoc in their ability to think) – and the reality that it is in his best interests to adapt to The System. Because of course we all need to learn special behaviors for special places (I am still working on that at my job), if only to minimize stress.

I had been heartened lately to hear (on npr) about classrooms where boys are allowed to stand up during instruction and to jump or shout out when giving answers in class. Maybe some day we will be able to teach kids without stomping out their spirit and sense of joy, instead of making their main lesson be that elementary and high school are evils that they have to get through before they can go on to a satisfying life. It is horrifying to me to hear that nothing has changed, and that teachers still think that punishment and damage to a child’s self-esteem is the way to help him deal with the confines of a classroom, the best way to convince him that learning is rewarding.

I can tell you that my sister and I both had one bright child who was able to go effortlessly with the flow, and one bright child who who needed something different than the usual classroom. We both resented and fought with the school system for years and years and years. Neither of our situations turned out well, and with the wisdom of retrospect we both feel that we failed out kids. I wish I had found the balance that you are working on, reassuring the child that he is just fine and wonderful, teaching him and his teacher non-pejorative language to describe his behavior so that he doesn’t embrace the ‘bad behavior’ label, and making sure he knows he is loved, loved, loved and smart and good. Just exactly as he is.

You are a good mom. Noah is lucky to have two good and thoughtful parents. Things will work out, quickly, I hope.

Snowbird said...

Wow, Gail has a lot of fantastic comments on the situation. I agree with her.

I am agonizing too. I can't even imagine a teacher--which I was if you remember--keeping a kid home from a field trip unless he is so horrible nothing can be done with him. Sooo, a yellow card deserves staying home from the zoo??? Not in my book. Maybe a week full of blue cards but not one yellow!!!

I'm hoping and praying that Noah gets that green card today. I know he will be devastated if he doesn't get to go to the zoo and so will I.

It was great talking to you yesterday. Tell Noah that Beyuh is pulling for him and no matter what, she is so proud of the green cards he has gotten this week.

Keep up the great work Noah!!

Snowbird said...

Hey Noah, a little bird told me that you got a green card today and will be going to the zoo. I am extremely, extremely, extremely, extremely, extremely PROUD of you. Love Beyuh

gpc said...

Yay Noah! Good job!

Emily said...

i'm so glad you're seeing some improvements with noah at home. that's fantastic news. i hope everything continues to go well for him at school. :)