Friday, June 1, 2012

How We Do It, Part XII in a series



The physical education teacher insists on assigning Sophie an F on her report card with a U -- unsatisfactory -- under Work Habits. Sophie doesn't get to school on time for adaptive physical education, the first period of the day because she has difficulty waking. She has a cluster of seizures nearly every morning and then, later, during breakfast, a larger one. She takes two anti-epileptic drugs that, despite their inefficacy in preventing these seizures, are efficacious in promoting a simultaneous drowsy and agitated reaction about a half hour after ingestion. Sometimes, as I'm dressing her, Sophie will lie back, close her eyes and sleep. I let her sleep whenever she's sleeping and have never woken her up purposely from sleep because I know sleep as a principle. I have spent a lifetime of hours awake with Sophie, as a baby, as a toddler, as a child, as a pre-teen, as a teenager. I have a spent a lifetime of hours awake with Sophie crying, seizing, seizing, crying, awake, awake, awake. When she sleeps, she sleeps. I have explained this to the adaptive physical education teacher and the special education coordinator, have explained this history of sleep and awake, yet it makes no difference and the card comes in the mail, the faint black box with FAIL and UNSATISFACTORY and it irks me in its smallness, its meanness, its deference to the way things should be, the tyranny of should over how we must do it, by the skin of the teeth, the closing of the eyes, the held breath over the descent, the obdurate giving way to ease.

33 comments:

  1. WTF. Is she kidding?! Sadly, no.

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  2. That "FAIL" seems utterly ridiculous, to me. It speaks of the failure of the teacher (or the school's reporting system) to understand and adapt, rather than any failure on Sophie's or your part. I am sending {{{{HUGS}}}} to you & Sophie, and hoping that your writing about this here has given you some release.

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  3. Ridiculous. Just effing ridiculous.

    (and again, the writing is beautiful...i hope to one day hold your published works in my hands, and smooth my fingers over your name on the cover)

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  4. i so completely get this, and why it galls you. maybe even hurts you.

    the trick will be to really convince yourself that this physical education teacher is completely peripheral to your sleep-awake life with Sophie and has no bearing in the larger sense at all. he/she is a robot with no discretionary perception of Sophie's reality at all. i know. easier said than achieved.

    i'm sorry you have to deal with this.

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  5. "meanness" ... that is what spoke to me and was infact my initial core response as I read this.

    Got nothing else. Well except sadness. I have a bit of that today.

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  6. Fucking ridiculous. I am sorry. I may not have understood the scope of what you face until this moment. Not the meaningless marks on the page, but your every morning. Oh my goodness. No wonder Henry says you're the hardest working person he knows.

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  7. ys it is fucked up and yes it speaks volumes to the inadequacy of the teacher and of course the system. it makes me kind of screamy. I can't imagine how it makes you.
    love,
    Rebecca

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  8. In elementary school, my daughter with CF never got the Good Citizenship Award her classmates received. She had too many absences due to illness and hospitalization to qualify for good citizenship. You can't think about it too much, Elizabeth. It will make you crazy.

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  9. It is that rigidity and unwillingness to expand your own view of the world to include other perspectives that ought to be rooted out of every school system in the world. Anyone who takes the job of educator takes on a certain mantle of responsibility - a responsibility to respond and adapt to the needs of each student.

    I can only imagine how batshit crazy this would make me. And I applaud you for letting Sophie sleep when she needs to. It is your willingness to adapt and understand her needs that will ultimately inform others.

    BTW, the word "fail" is one of my least favorite words in the English language. It always leaves me with a nasty taste in my mouth and a wrench in my gut.

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  10. I am so sorry Elizabeth. This breaks my heart.

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  11. What infuriating madness, and so indicative of the broken system (and people, honestly) that our children must navigate. I'm grateful for your voice and wisdom - it helps the rest of us power through with more strength than we would otherwise have.

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  12. I think this may be one of those times when you just have to laugh hysterically at the ridiculousness of that mark on a piece of paper.
    If you can. I doubt I could but you're a better person than I am.
    Oh, Elizabeth.
    I'm so sorry.

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  13. Thanks, my peeps! I'm actually not sad or enraged about this latest ridiculous thing pertaining to the crazy world of special education. My take is, rather, one of wry bitterness and a dose of hilarity. It gets me through, you know, along with your kind and funny words and understanding!

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  14. Hopefully, Sophie will learn from this tough love and stop seizing so much.

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  15. OMG...I think I would go ballistic! Narrow mindedness is a trait I so despise especially in those who work with children. I really do believe this woman is evil.

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  16. It is these kinds of things that make me understand why some people turn to violence -- not that I am advocating it, I just understand how one could get to that place. What an ass of a special ed teacher.

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  17. The day that people in authority realize that it does not promote society to live by the rules, but to rule by the heart will be the day that changes everything. I wish that day was here for you and Sophie, Elizabeth.

    But I am so glad that you have your intelligence and great humor to get you through things like this. And letting Sophie sleep...you are just the best mom ever!!

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  18. And yet her work habits are excellent! LOL
    I think J Edwards can suck it.

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  19. Sweet baby Jesus. This is akin to my sister getting an F in music class (she is profoundly Deaf, and she did when she was in high school and in integrated classes)--and I work with teachers like these. Little tyrants, they cannot see much further than the small boundaries of their fiefdoms. I give her an F and Unsatisfactory in Human Empathy and an A+ in Jackassitude.

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  20. That is just so mean and so very wrong. What a horrible person. I'd be livid.

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  22. I have often said, when it comes the issues and folks I champion, that "well, if they weren't invisible disabilities, this would be easier for people to grasp. People would understand what's really going on - the cost to the individuals and family, the difficulty with the things that seem so easy."

    I now have to re-think that wonderfully naive viewpoint.

    I will admit I actually laughed at "unsatisfactory" work habits, though I often laugh at the absurd. I'd love to hear that discussed around the table at the school one day.... But for now, it's the weekend, so make sure y'all sleep since it has no grade impact!!!! :)

    June 1, 2012 8:41 PM
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  23. Ridiculous. Insensitive. Beasty bitch.

    Grr.

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  24. " ... those who can't do, teach, and those who can't teach, teach gym." ~Alvy Singer, (Woody Allen) - Annie Hall

    I have to point out that Sophie got an A in math and an E (excellent) in work habits! Hell, I never got an A in math.

    If teachers grade according to some ethereal standard, then I would say the gym teacher is right, and the math teacher is whacked. If they grade relative to other students on some type of a curve, then I would say the gym teacher is right and the math teacher is whacked. If they grade students according to how well they believe the student can do relative to how the student is doing, then the math teacher is right and the gym teacher is whacked.

    Obviously the gym teacher is a moron, but then, I never met a gym teacher who also taught rocket science. Or had a personality worth a damn. They are usually married to social workers I think.

    As for my bigger problem with the other teachers, if you care, you can see my opinion here when Pearlsky went from an A to an A- in math ...

    I'd like to give a grade to the morons who believe our kids need to be graded. All I can say is ... leave my child behind.

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  25. That's absurd. One thing I've learned from being married to a teacher, though, is that the world of education is hidebound with bureaucracy and rules. I'm sure there's some guideline telling that teacher they must assign that grade if certain benchmarks are not met -- regardless of the reason. You know?

    I sometimes think education is a little like the income tax code. It's so ridiculously complicated, so turned in upon itself and full of stumbling and roadblocks, that we need to just erase everything and start again.

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  26. This infuriates me. I really can't add anything to what has already been said here, except that I'm grateful you have your sense of humor to carry on with. And adding my hug to the rest, for you and Sophie.

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  27. I always hated gym class. Poor Sophie ... you did the right thing with letting her sleep while she was sleeping.

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  28. that just pisses me off to no end. people are so cruel in their indifference sometimes. YOU are doing the right thing, Momma, and don't let some inconsequential "F" cause you to doubt yourself - which I know you don't. I know its the meaning behind this letter grade that reveals the compassionless of some people in the world.

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  29. The gym teacher just showed that she richly earned an F in: common sense, compassion, and communication. Also F for no effort.

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  30. That would make me insane.

    Just like Owen getting an 'A' in music when I KNOW he hides in a corner with his hands over his ears, because little kids playing 'music' is just obnoxious noise to his poor barely working ears.

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  31. That teacher better get ready for some heavy Karma.

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