It was the first parent/teacher conference of the school year. Second grade. I came to the conference with no expectations. And I did this on purpose because every year I have the same question. Should we be concerned about anything?
And every year the response is, well, we can’t tell you yes or no, but I really feel it’s just her age. But, if you feel there’s concern somewhere, you will get faster action raising the issue with your pediatrician than relying on the school to notice anything.
My reaction to this two years ago was something to the effect of, “But you’re with her for the majority of her waking hours and you would know if there was something not on par with where she should be for her age.”
Nevertheless, as much as I love my kids’ teachers, and teachers in general, their hands are pretty much tied with what they can and can’t say. And I completely understand why they have to be very careful of their wording.
My personal opinion...if you want it...part of this is because of the administration, but I think a big part (and maybe part of the reason why the administration is the way it is) is because of parents who don’t want to hear any of the bad shit.
Many parents go into these conferences, never having had a conversation with their child’s teacher, and expecting everything to be rainbows and butterflies and unicorn shit.
And when the teachers even vaguely infer that there is an issue somewhere, a lot of parents get defensive & lose their shit.
They say the teacher is picking on their kid. They request a classroom change. They do everything except put their ego aside and figure out how to get their kid the help s/he needs.
I get it, it’s a defense mechanism, we react because we don’t want to look like or feel like the shitty parent. The parent who doesn’t have control over the situation, the parent who doesn’t know there is a situation.
But, let’s be real. Every kid is born with different needs, and not a single one of us is equipped to handle all those needs expertly.
So, back to our conference. At the end of the prior year, we worked with the school on having our daughter sit with the social worker once a week to work on her social-emotional skills. They asked if we wanted to continue this year, and we said yes.
Because we are all over getting both of our kids the help they need when they need it. We only have so many tools in our parenting toolbox and only have so much we’re capable of. So, let’s enlist the experts.
I sat at the table with her teacher and the social worker and the first thing that was said was.
I LOVE her. She keeps me on my toes and she ALWAYS brings a smile to my face.
First thought I had? I love her so much, she’s such a good kid. The second thought? Shit, what’s the problem?
We had a conversation and distraction came up.
She’s not the kid that excuses herself to the bathroom every fifteen minutes. She’s not
even the kid that gets distracted by her seatmates. She’s getting distracted by her own thoughts. You may want to make an appointment with her pediatrician.
I get it.
I think they were shocked that I wasn’t more surprised. I don’t know what kind of response they anticipated, but they definitely weren’t expecting the response I gave them.
Okay, we’ll start with nutrition, I’ll get her in to see the doctor. And I’ll do more research on how we can better structure things at home so that she can perform better here.
I explained that I’ve been asking this question since preschool and everyone said it was just her age. They replied by saying that second grade is so much different that first grade, the expectations are much higher, so now is about the time they see when kids are actually struggling.
Again, I don’t think they expected an upbeat, proactive, understanding response, but that’s what they got.
What I felt, that was entirely different. Even though I thought I was prepared for anything this conversation turned into, it felt like my heart dropped into my stomach. As I walked down the hall to my son’s conference, I told myself this…
We haven’t failed her. We are catching it early, she’s only eight. I already have a ridiculous amount of research and resources for a situation like this, and we’re going to get her back on track.
Once I was done with the second conference, I sat in the car for an extra second, putting my ego in check, again telling myself that we’re good, we live in a time with amazing medical professionals who are readily accessible, research available to the public that’s never been available before, and, well...we have me.
A long time ago a manager described me to someone as “a bulldog”, meaning once I have my mind set in a direction, I go and go and keep going, until I get what I need.
And so started the season of managing ADD/ADHD in our family. There was one thing complicating this season, though. Well, actually two things complicating this season.
That’s where our family is at right now. Mom has anxiety, daughter has some form of ADD (there are 7 forms, did you know that? That’ll be a topic for another post), and we’re navigating our way through it all and helping others do the same.
If you have a child struggling in school whether it’s something diagnosed or just something you suspect, I want to remind you of a few things.
I would love to connect with you over on the socials. I’m most active in our Facebook Community, but you can catch me over on my Facebook page & on Instagram too! Just click the links below.