Needless to say, it did not turn out as expected!
I did not expect, because I could not imagine, the deep love and the overwhelming joy that I would experience through my children. The beautiful smell that lingered at the back of my son's sweet little baby neck. The connection of a mother with her daughter as she brushes her hair. The utter happiness when one of my kids takes my hand to walk through a parking lot, even though they are big enough to walk alone. Truly so much more beauty than I ever thought.
Okay. I also NEVER thought it would be this hard! From sleepless nights with a newborn, to terrible two's, to sibling rivalry- I didn't know it would be so challenging. Before I had kids, I thought I would homeschool for sure. When I was actually to the point of Miss Mae beginning pre-school at age 3, I was happy to have a break for a few hours one day a week. I was really happy when they were both in school five days a week.
Little Dude was always more hands-on and more needy and more challenging, and as he got older, the problem just got worse. I was frustrated and his pre-school teachers were frustrated, and then his kindergarten teacher was frustrated. At some point I knew that his struggles with his behavior were more than most of his schoolmates. Mr. Sahm did not think so and was pretty set against any kind of testing. Little Dude did see a play therapist for a while- not much help there.
This year, in first grade, we started the year out great! After Little Dudes tonsils and adenoids were removed, there was a tremendous change in his behavior. We thought that perhaps he had sleep apnea or just being sick all the time had triggered the behavior. It lasted 6 weeks, and then a little bit at a time, the impulsiveness and the defiance and the frustration started creeping back. We were managing things reasonably well, with a lot of communication with his very caring teacher and as much positive energy that we could muster.
Then my mom got sick. I flew off to California, and my sweet kiddos did not know exactly when mom was going to come back. Little Dude cried at school and said he couldn't remember what I looked like. The doctors kept saying my mom would get better, and I would make plans to go home. But she didn't get better. As much as I knew my Little Dude (and Miss Mae) needed me, how could I leave my mom to die alone?
When I did return home, Little Dude's behavior went from bad to worse. In December, we found a new therapist. In January, he spent a whole week in the principal's office and was not allowed to go on a field trip with his classmates. Everything was going crazy. We agreed to allow the school to do testing, since getting testing anywhere else takes 6+ months of waiting and we were in crisis mode. So, the school began their testing, which also took some time, but was at least moving towards figuring out what was wrong.
By March, There were not so many trips to the principal's office, but Little Dude was so down on himself. Many times, he would talk about how "bad" and "stupid" he was and how anybody that had been to the principal's office seven times was bad for sure. Sometimes it was an excuse for further bad behavior. The school had an unofficial behavior plan for Little Dude, which mostly involved a lot of trips to other rooms or offices. The plan didn't seem to work, and Little Dude was feeling so discouraged, so with a bit of encouragement from his therapist, I dis-enrolled him and started homeschooling.
Yikes! Homeschooling! I figured I would keep him home until the school completed their testing and had a better plan in place.
Homeschooling was way more fun and just as frustrating as I thought. The first thing that I noticed was his complete inability to focus on his schoolwork much of the time. And some part of his body was always moving! And the boy could not spell, even though his reading was great. And working independently was just NOT going to happen. I had to sit next to him at every moment of academic work. At that point I figured I had a pretty good idea that the diagnosis would be ADHD.
Last week, the testing was done and sure, enough ADHD, combined type, was the conclusion. They also felt he had Oppositional Defiance Disorder, but he is too young to be diagnosed officially. Their plan to help him when he came back to school was...
- Officially making him a "Special Ed" student
- A one on one aide with him in a general ed classroom
- Removing him to an empty special ed classroom when his behavior becomes disruptive.
- Support for his teacher by way of getting methods to encourage compliance.
Let me be clear- this is a great school, and I do not attribute any malicious motives to anyone there. They are doing their best. Thing is, it wasn't going to work, and I knew that returning Little Dude to school would mean he would scrape by and be the bad kid and never do work that truly reflected his ability. Little Dude is a square peg and school is a round hole. Just not a good fit. He would end up being one of those kids that fell through the cracks.
So, I decided. I am going to continue homeschooling my boy, probably for years to come. Miss Mae has always wished she could be homeschooled, so she will finish this year and then join us. We will be a homeschooling family, just not exactly how I pictured it back in the days before kids.