Facing life – work, school and the truth about Colt’s world
Well, it’s Monday again. I left early on Friday because of a new crisis moment at the school and had to make up the hours on Saturday…plus, the managers aren’t happy with me so putting in a little extra time wasn’t about to hurt. I am exhausted though and in tremendous pain. The pain has been building for weeks…I guess I should start at the beginning though, and catch you up.
So, last week one of my managers spoke with me about the way I was prioritizing tasks. She was okay about it…I think I wrote something about it last week (might have been in the deleted ones…not sure – can barely remember my name today!) She was annoyed to discover I’ve been meeting with the other manager weekly and hoped that I was not prioritizing the other manager’s needs before hers. (sigh. I asked her several times if she wanted the same sort of meetings weekly and she said no, every time. Now she’s changed her mind). The other one, after being spun in circles by the crazy one who thinks I’m not being fair with my time, is now pissed at me for much the same reason. It’s so tiring, this crap. Basically, the deal is this: I am paid 50% by one department and 50% by the other so, in theory, I should be spending an equal amount of time on each. Trouble is, the crazy one eats up so much of my time on stupid, wasteful, irrelevant things that I run out of time to get BOTH of their stuff done. This isn’t fair to the not-too-crazy manager at all and I can tell she’s been on the look out for this sort of thing since I started. It’s a fine balance, supporting two people, and it’s very difficult to keep everyone happy. I’ve spent some time working on an action plan that will allow them both an equal share of my time. The tricky part is that the crazy one will be difficult to control. I have to come up with a way of showing her clearly, how she is spending my time….so, if she wants to call me and talk for 45 minutes about nothing, it will be 45 of HER minutes she’s spending. Then, when I don’t get her other questions answered, the reason why will be obvious. The other manager will likely get a ton more support out of me because she’s organized, diligent, and keeps her cool while juggling all the balls these managers have to juggle. Efficiency works on so many levels here. I’m a little bit scared of what it will look like to keep this woman in line. I know, full well, I’ll have to push back and let her down more than once but must keep in mind that it’s her and not me who is wasting time. Gah. Just what I needed…confrontation at work. I was just looking around thinking, Wow, I have so little stress in life! HA!
So, I wrote an apology letter to manager two, letting her know that I recognized the need for me to better manage my time to effectively balance the workload between the two departments. I said I wasn’t holding the tasks in my head as separate, which I should have been doing all along. I also said I’d work out a plan to do this and would present it to them both next Monday, when crazy is back from her week off. I’m going to use this week (and this past weekend) to catch up on things that are behind)…she was receptive, but still annoyed.
Then my phone rang and it was the school. Every time I see that number come up on my call display my heart stops for a second. I answered. Apparently, Colt was playing with a group of three girls at recess and was trying to grab their boobs. Ahem. Chests…they don’t even have boobs yet (omgomgomg puberty. NOT looking forward to this phase). Of course, he was sent to the office and was reprimanded. I talked to him for almost 30 minutes on the phone, explaining and trying to get him to understand. Eventually, I told him that if he could just get through the next two hours I’d come pick him up early, before the buses left the school but no matter what I said, the child would not and could not calm down.
After the principal asked for her phone back (in the snottiest tone ever) Colt went back to class and she stayed on to talk to me about something that’s been going on. She said she had been investigating an incident on the playground that occurred just before the last incident where Colt went off at someone outside – swearing, threatening….that sort of nonsense. The tone in her voice was anger as she explained that a group of older students had been picking on Colt. They were sneaking up behind him and poking him in the back, one distracted him while the other snuck up behind. One would call him a ‘retard’ while another told him that he didn’t belong there and how nobody liked him. The kids would hide around corners while one would lure Colt into chasing or following, then they would jump out and start poking him and touching him until he exploded with anger and a cacophony of curse words…..apparently, they found it hilarious.
“These are OLDER students!” The principal cried, outraged. “That’s BULLYING!” she added, emphatically.
I just sat there on the other end of the phone with my jaw hanging open. They have been telling us for years that there is nothing of that sort going on. Colt would tell us that someone was being mean to him, we’d investigate, the outcome would be that Colt made the story up….or so we were told. They assured us dozens of times…more than that really…and they all agreed every time they said it. No, there weren’t any students picking on Colt, no, the outbursts were never provoked… (blood boiled a bit here….) I mean, we’ve been beaten down so much by them we eventually just trusted what they were telling us (to some extent) and as incidents occurred, we attributed them to things that Colt was going through, not as a response to a stimulus in his environment.
“I am going to come down on these boys SO hard!” Said the Principal who has had 15 years experience working with kids on the ADS spectrum (?!?) “I’m making them write apology letters and I’ll be following it up with a call to their parents.
I was happy to hear that. Happy to be able to show Colt that they were being punished for bullying him just like he was punished in the past.
I did leave early and did get to him before the day was out and the kids got ready to get on their buses. When I arrived he was worried I would be angry with him. He did break the rules by swearing, trying to touch the girls in a private area, and said a whole bunch of angry, mean things to me on the phone when we had talked. I had let him…hoping to get the frustration and anger out so he could manage the last two hours of school that day. He said that he wished the school would burn down. I told him it was horrible to wish that sort of thing.
“Fine, I wish the school would vanish into thin air!” He tried.
“Better! I understand how you would feel that way Colt.” I encouraged.
It went that way for a while and he worst-case-scenarioed himself into the ground. Just like someone else I know. (Dayne, I’m looking in your direction here…) Rather than battle him on each point I just accepted what he was saying and I wasn’t angry or combative. It helped a lot.
After stopping by the office to sign him out, we walked out to the car and talked along the way…he was still feeling me out to see how pissed I was about the day’s events. I waited until we were in the car and I could look him in the eye. I told him about what the principal had said about the bigger kids bullying him at recess. I told him that I knew he had tried to tell us this was going on and I told him I was so, so sorry for not listening when I should have. Colt’s eyes filled with tears and mine followed shortly thereafter.
He let me hug him but he wasn’t comfortable with so much raw emotion going on. His dad called then and I answered through my car stereo so Colt could hear. Dayne said the same as I had said and, again, emotions swelled. I could hear Dayne’s voice cracking with tears as well and by the time he was through we were all openly sobbing…lol. Ahhh my family.
In the end, we all feel a bit better. Well, except for the issue I have with the school who assured me constantly that he was well supervised and that his freak outs on the playground were entirely unprovoked, always. I realize that it might not be the entire reason for the swearing and anger, but I’m dead sure this answers some of his frustrations in the last year or so. It breaks my heart to know he’s been picked on and NO ONE has noticed for so long. When asked how long ago these things were happening, Colt will answer that they’ve always happened. It makes me feel like I’m going to throw up.
“Why haven’t you told us Colt?”
“…….. but, I did mom.”
(OMG I’m a terrible mother, terrible mother, terrible mother. The poor kid was being bullied the whole fucking time and I’ve been punishing him for standing up for himself? Yiiiikes….)
And the pain. I think I’ll write a separate post on that one, just so I don’t end up with a novel in one long rambling take on my week.