Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Not quite the way we planned it; but is it ever the way you plan it? This is gonna be a long post friends...

Today was the first day of school. Katie Starr was going back to her half day preschool program that she attended for half of last year. It is an awesome program. They love Katie and we love the director and the teachers.

Ethan is beginning a program that he has transitioned into from the early intervention program into the school board of our county since he is now 3 years old. I had heard great things about this program but as of day one I am less than impressed. My negative feelings began with the fact that even though the entire elementary school where the preschool program is housed has a meet and greet day before school starts, they did not have one for the Preschool program. This program is for children like Ethan, who are speech and developmentally delayed. Does that make any sense??? It doesn't make any to me at all!! I was told by the county that the teacher would meet with me to discuss Ethan and his challenges before the year was to begin. We did not even so much as get a phone call until we called the school ourselves. The teacher told us where to go once we got there, etc. It was us that tried to turn the conversation to Ethan. Even then she basically said that she would meet with us at the open house two weeks after school started. Now call me crazy, but should I feel comfortable with the fact that my 3 year old who is more like a 2 year old (that is why he is in the program for goodness sake) has not laid eyes on his teachers before and I am supposed to leave him there? I have been upset about this for days but at all of my friends and families urging, I decided to see how it all played out and not project too much. OK, I can do that...breathe in...breathe out.....oooohhhhmmmmmm....

The big day arrives and we get the DD up and out of their beds. Here you can see how pleased they look about getting up early after their leisurely summer (snicker)

We get them ready to go and I take Ethan to school.

I find a place to park (that's another story for another day) and I walk into the cafeteria where I have been told to drop him off and I find a table full of preschool children and teachers. I have been told to drop him off for breakfast since eating breakfast and lunch as well as snack is part of the developmental facet of the program. Since Ethan has eating issues, you can imagine how comfortable that makes me feel. I ask how he gets his breakfast and one of the aides tells me that I should sign up for a credit account so that the children are not carrying money. Since no one told me that BEFORE school starts I hand over the cash to the aid and tell her I will set that up as soon as someone tells me where to do that. At this point Ethan has that "deer in the headlights" look that I have seen many times before and always when he is feeling vulnerable. I try to speak to the teacher about Ethan and she listens with half an ear. I realize that this is probably not the right moment as there is always controlled chaos on the first day of school. I tell her that Ethan's snack is in his lunchbox and it is labeled. I ask if I can sit with them while they eat and she urges me to leave as it will be easier on him and they make the eating a very social event and it would not be a good idea for me to stay. I turn to Ethan who is staring off into the distance and I give him a hug and tell him "mommy is going to go now but I will be back very soon; I love you baby" and he does not even look at me. I kiss him and walk towards the door with tears blinding my eyes. As I look back to wave at him he is completely gone; vacant. He has taken his mind to that safe place that he goes to when he is overwhelmed. He learned that coping mechanism well while he was in the orphanage. He just blocks out the world and he retreats into a place that he feels insulated from fear and vulnerability. As I pull out of the parking lot I realize that he is unsure as to whether I am coming back!! This upsets me to no end. I know that this is something that he needs to do and that logically even though I am not comfortable yet it will all be fine. Not a great feeling; let me tell you.

I drive home and prepare to take Katie to school as Marc is leaving for work.

Katie went to bed with a slight cough the evening before and she still has it. It does not seem like anything to worry about and there is no fever. I take her in and tell the teacher to keep an eye on it. If she spikes a fever I will come back and get her as I am working from home today. Katie is not pleased to be in a new room with new teachers. Miss Starr is VERY capable of telling me she is not happy, which she then does. She did not cry but she was not a happy camper. This is such a very different reaction that Ethan's. His is one that is carried over from his abandonment, illness, pain and neglect. Hers is the typical three year old reaction of I would rather be with mommy than at school on the first day. I give her a hug and she refuses to kiss me. I tell her "I love you sweet girl; I will see you soon" as I walk to the door. She runs after me telling me that she wants a kiss as she giggles. We kiss and I leave feeling very satisfied that all is OK with my girl.

I try to work all morning but my mind keeps drifting back to our children; especially Ethan.

At 1:15 I head over to Katie's school to get in the car line. I pick Katie up and she is happy as a clam. Unfortunately, her cough has worsened. We drive over to Ethan's school before the 2:00 dismissal and head into the cafeteria to pick him up. We wait in the designated spot and we both search the sea of children and teachers for Ethan and his teacher. Finally, we see them. He runs to me with a happy and relieved look on his face. I laugh because his face is full of chocolate. I ask the teacher if he had just eaten the chocolate pudding that I packed for lunch and she says "No, he ate that at 10:15 which is when they eat lunch" She goes on to tell me that he ate very well. All I could focus on was that he face was covered in chocolate and had been for almost 4 hours. It seems weird to me that they would not have cleaned him up or had him clean himself since part of the program has to do with health and sanitary habits. I take him home and see that his snack was never touched and he was ravenous; he was crying for food. I know I sound petty and ridiculous but this is my baby. He is such a little guy and he cannot fend for himself. These people are supposed to be top notch in their field and I am just not feelin it!! I even started to think that maybe they never even bought him breakfast at all and that was why he scarfed down lunch at 10 am. Needless to say there will be further discussion on all of this tomorrow.

Sea of children and adults
Katie wanted me to take her pic while we waited for Ethan
Here he comes with his teacher
Chocolate face
Katie not feeling well after school

I settled them down for a nap and kept hearing Katie coughing over and over. Marc came home and I decided to call her pediatrician as my trained mama ear knew that this cough was a bad one. They told me to bring her in right away so off Marc went with her while I took Ethan to his swimming lesson.

She has bronchitis and is on nebulizer treatments. That all escalated from no symptoms to full out bronchitis in 12 hours....lovely. We meet at home, Marc runs to the store to fill the prescriptions and get us dinner. After dinner was breathing treatments and bed. Both of us will try to get to bed early as we were up until 2:30 am last night because Marc performed at a wedding and I was pretty much up until her got home....we are pooped! Hopefully, Katie will have a restful evening.

Thanks for listening to my vent. Believe me when I say that I am not "that mother" you know the one that is never happy about her child's teacher. I just aways need to be that little guy's advocate. Who else cares the way we do? We need to make sure that he gets the help that he needs to make it in school and in life. Things need to improve quickly.


Angel said...

I'm so sorry! That must have been awful for you and even more for Ethan. Definitely talk to the teacher and get things worked out. I know you aren't being "that mother" at all.


Candy said...

Oh My! I'm so sorry with your experience with Ethan's school. I would speak with the teacher immediately, and find out why Ethan's face was not washed. There's no excuse for that. If we don't make a fuss, nobody else will. I was a bit upset that Rachel had pee'd in her pants today right before I picked her up. Hopefully things will get straightened out real soon. I love the pictures of Ethan & Katie in bed and all ready for school.

Kate said...

Stick with those Mama instincts!
I hope that Katie is well again very soon and that Ethan's teacher listens and responds.
Good luck,
Kate (another AP and a teacher!)

We5Chois said...

Lori - my sweet friend.
Trust your gut on this one. I know I told you that public school is completely different from private, but it sounds like Ethan needs your help here.
I cannot imagine how you felt. You poor thing. As for Ethan, I hope today goes better for him. It is going to take a while for him to get comfortable, but he will. I have every faith in him, even if the school leave me speechless.

I cannot believe they made you leave so soon on his first day - he is 3 years old for goodness-sake.
Definitely make a point of advocating for him and keeping track of all this nonsense. It is unacceptable, even given that is public school. Write it ALL down. It may all work out in teh coming days, but if it doesn't you need to keep records for any meetings with the school.
I hope my little Starr feels better soon. Our little social butterfly needs to be out and about brightening people's lives, not stuck with a nebulizer.

And as for you & Marc, take care of each other. I am so glad that you are such wonderful parents and friends to each other. I know it makes all the difference knowing you are not alone in all this.

Fingers-crossed for a better day. Bigs hugs from Shanghai. I wish I was there, I would come and give you a big old hug and a Diet Coke ;-)
Love ya,. Kim

Julie said...

You stick to your guns it is scary enough to leave our sweethearts with strangers but strangers who don't wipe little faces are even more yucky. I know he is in school already again today and I hope that it went better for him and you.
P.S. I have to work hard not be one of "those mothers" I think I might have it in me:):):)

Michelle said...

Oh my, I am really shocked about Ethan's school. I am not a teacher or a mom but I have common sense. If a parent wants to talk prior to the first day of school you do it, especially if you teach early intervention. My mom is an elementary teacher and she makes all sorts of arrangements to make the child and parent feel more comfortable.

Having Ethan with chocolate on his face for 4 hour is not acceptable, you have every right to be upset. This poor child has been through so much and is learning to trust...he now most certainly has learned that trust from the one day with the "specialist".

I hope you and Mark had a glass of wine (or vodka) after the kiddos went to bed. You needed it.

Hope Katie is feeling better. This commentary brought to you by the letter L for long winded!

Beverly said...

I am so sorry that was such a rough day for all of you guys. I hope you can get Ethan's school straightened out soon!! BTW, Glenys has the same lady bug blanket. Do you know where you found the material? I am needing to get another for just in case and can't find it or don't know where to look. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks Beverly (my email should appear with this comment)

tumbleintodreams said...

Yikes Lori.... I am sorry the school year started out this way for you guys. I have no doubt you will know what you need to do to make things work well for Ethan. You may just need to talk to the teachers. But they sound less than available. Anyway, please hang in there. Thinking of you always.

Carol and Taylor said...

Wow. As an unbiased party, I find all of this inexcusable...totally and incredibly inexcusable. Are these the same teachers that earned the sterling reputation you spoke of regarding the school or new teachers? Is it the same administration or new principle? If nothing has changed, perhaps I'd give them the benefit of the doubt due to the first day. But then, you'd think that experienced teachers would know how to deal with the first day chaos.

Whoever they are, I'd be scheduling a conference with them asap (and attempt not to scratch their eyes out in the process for failing my baby...good luck with that, btw)

Your words of Ethan "checking out" are heartwrenching...I can't imagine your pain. I hope it all works out for you soon.

We'll be thinking of you all.

Kind regards from Miami,

Carol and Taylor

Tamara said...

I am so sorry Lori! Logan was in a pre-school program up here and the teachers were nothing like that. I walked Logan to his class each morning- left him in his room at the school. I would have been a basket case leaving him in the cafeteria. I hope Katie Starr is feeling better soon.
Your a great Mommy and you will whip those teachers into shape in no time!

Tammie said...


I wanted to wait a few days after reading this to post. Why? I knew I needed to reread your post & try to see it from a different angle. Now that I have reread your post, I can say that as both a parent & a teacher, I am horrified that you & Ethan have been treated this way.

Follow your instincts. As I have told Sandra many times, YOU (& Marc too of course) are your children's own best advocate. At 3 years of age, Ethan doesn't have his own voice yet.

I would suggest that, if you haven't already, approach his teacher & tell her that you want to talk with her & not wait until the open house where you will be with a gazillion other parents. If she declines, immediately walk over to the principal's office & do your thing.

Please know that we are all here for you. If you need to chat/vent, you know where to find me.


Sandra said...

Wow, what a terrible situation; I am so sorry! Our kids need to be handled a little differently and Ethan's teacher needs to understand that.

Thinking of you...