This is the second of three blogs today from New Jersey mom SarahG. Her first was on worrying less, while her third — to post later this afternoon — will focus on diagnosing Tourette Syndrome.
When my son, O, was 3 years old, our pediatrician advised me to put him in preschool, because “95 percent of children attend preschool,” and if O missed out on the preschool experience, he would forever be at an academic disadvantage. Naturally, I did not want my son to start school at a disadvantage, so I placed him in the best preschool I could find.
At the time, O’s first tics already were beginning to manifest themselves, although it would be several years until we realized exactly what was happening. All we knew then, though, was that he was “a real handful.” Even if he did not learn anything in preschool, there was something to be said for getting that little bit of a break from parenting the human tornado.
Two years and many headaches later, my husband and I removed both of our children from preschool. As it turned out, O’s teachers had little patience for the challenges he presented and no visible interest in learning why he was the way he was. At first they attributed O’s differences to my lack of parenting skills. Once my younger son, B, a model student, enrolled in the school, the teachers decided the problem simply was that O was a bad kid. For O, that meant that his situation went from bad to worse.
When I picked O up each day, he either was in a rage or was sobbing uncontrollably. He was sent out of the classroom when there were visitors so he would not reflect poorly on the school; when he misbehaved, he was put in the janitor’s closet in the office or confined to a chair and not allowed to move.
Disciplinary policies such as modeling good behavior were suspended for O. Respect for privacy and confidentiality went out the window, as the teachers publicly mocked O and complained loudly about him to me in front of other parents. One day, I stopped by the school at lunch to pick up my younger son.
From the other side of the school, I could hear an adult screaming and a child sobbing ; a parent volunteer was unloading her wrath on O for something he did not do. The school staff defended her actions because O was “so difficult.” That was our last day of school. Continue reading