Tag Archives: ODD

When They Don’t Listen: School Edition

Remember when I realized at the end of summer that we kinda hate school because of some of Hope’s challenges?

Yeah, that.

Yep, still hate it.

I thought that her counselor and I were on the same page in terms of what was in Hope’s best interest. Apparently, I was mistaken.

Hope does not like one of her teachers and has used this as an excuse to underperform.

After lots of back and forth with Hope and the school, I refused to offer Hope the opportunity to change teachers. I needed to see her apply herself, and knowing that she had a chance to get what she wanted would only cause manipulative behavior. After seeing her perform, we could all reevaluate whether a different teacher would be an appropriate move for her.

I know my kid. I know her.

I may have only known her for 3 years this month, by I know Hope.

Hope’s defiance typically comes in the form of showing me how badly she can perform rather than how well she can do the same. Although she hurts herself, she knows that her underperformance hurts me—it makes me worry for her, be a little stressed out, sometimes be angry at her willingness to self-sacrifice.

It took me awhile to figure this out.

I used to not believe in oppositional defiance, generally speaking, in some ways I still do. I think it’s a bunch of baloney in terms of a diagnosis. I was allowed to be openly defiant; the thought of behaving in such a way with my parents back in the day is just a completely foreign concept to me. I can’t wrap my head around it.

And yet, this defiance is supposed to be a thing. I’m supposed to give Hope lots of choices to help manage the defiance. Yeah, ok.

Of course, I know when Hope can handle choices and when she cannot. Often choices are hugely problematic for her.

So, anyhoo, new counselor lady meets with Hope and completely undermines the decision that I made about not switching teachers.

“Hope, sure we can talk about switching teachers; let’s make an appointment; there are 3 other classes you can be switched to.”

Thanks, lady, thanks a lot.

And once again, I get to be the bigger bad guy.

So, now, we’re looking at grades that are just not reflective of Hope’s capabilities with or without accommodations. For Hope, these grades are proof that it’s not working out with her teacher.

For me, they are reflective of self-sabotaging, manipulative behavior designed to get her way and use the naïve school counselor to get it.

Sigh.  Just great.

So, I send off a terse email to the counselor about how she got played and how my kid is in the dog house.

No answer.

I am clear with Hope’s school and with Hope that educational decisions are made by me, unless there is definitive evidence that my say should be overridden. I’m furious that I laid that ground work, and it was all destroyed during one meeting, and here we are with the first quarter jacked.

And Hope has created a legitimate appearing argument for getting her way and irritating me as a bonus.

I don’t care as much about Hope making honor roll these days, but I do know what she’s capable of and what her academically weakness are and how they manifest.

I hate that my knowledge of my daughter’s behaviors and capabilities weren’t treated as “expertise.” I hate that despite having 20 years of educational experience and an advanced degree in education that my knowledge of my kid or relevant content was discounted.

What’s the point of having some forms of privilege if I can’t leverage them? Isn’t that what privilege is about anyway?

With so many parents having to advocate for their kids, I see why it feels like we are rarely on the same team with our children’s educators. For adoptive parents, I could see how the “adoptive” part could be used to undermine what we know about our children throughout our advocacy efforts.

I see how we are marginalized.

I’m angry.

I’m so angry.

Why didn’t the counselor listen to me?

Why was it so hard to just listen to me and work with me to help my daughter be successful? I mean, we’re supposed to be on the same team right?

Why didn’t she listen to me? Why didn’t she trust that I know? Why did she undermine me?

I’m guessing that parents by birth go through this too, this feeling that their experiences as parents are devalued by educators as they advocate for their children.

I am pissed that I feel like I have to back down to that school next week and give them what for.

I’m pissed that my daughter has dug herself in an effort to manipulate her way into getting what she wants.

I hate setbacks.

I hate setbacks even when I learn from them; I always wish that learning didn’t require some form of suffering on this journey.

I hate setbacks that could be avoided if folks just listened and trusted me and my approach to parenting.

This is one of those few times when I have no doubts and no second guessing about my approach to this parenting issue. I knew and continue to know what needed to happen.

But it ends up just being another case of when they didn’t listen.


Shoe Drop – The Sequel

Well, we managed to make it one whole week in school before I started getting the emails about behavioral problems.  Five notes in two days.

Yeah, the last few days have been tough.  Wednesdays are usually our turn around day; things improve so I’m optimistic about today.  By Friday we’re great and then it starts all over again on Mondays.  It’s an awful cycle.  And even though I can tell it’s a cycle, it’s just relentless and the severity is always surprising and I’m getting so freaked out about Monday’s that there’s a cloud over the weekend for me.

The teachers asked me how they can help Hope.

I gave what I believe to be what I would do—try to be gracious but consistent and please be patient with us.

Yeah, the truth of the matter is I have no effing idea what they should do.  I’m barely holding it together around here.

I sat her down and gently talked to her.  She was shocked that teachers would just email me.  Naw girl, no one is checking for your little “note sent home but never really gets here” game.  No boo, teachers just email the parents now.   Her defensive shields went up slowly, but when they were up, they were really up.  You see, Hope never does anything wrong.  She is always the victim.  How dare they send me emails full of lies about her!

This oppositional defiance thing is so dang serious.  And it’s so exhausting, especially when the denials and lies fly in the face of obvious fact and reason.  There’s nothing reasonable about oppositional defiance.

This week I had to start doing some consequences; she seems stunned.  I actually am stunned.  I’m always feeling stunned.

<whisper> I kinda hate my life right now.

<whispers even more softly> I feel awful and guilty that I hate my life right now.

Amongst the rudeness, the belligerence, the lies and the shutdowns, the clinginess and everything else I can’t be bothered to list here, I’m really feeling like a failure. I know I’m not, but it sure feels sucky. I never imagined that I would fly in with a cape and save Hope; I thought I had realistic expectations, but it’s just really hard.  I cannot remember the last time when I felt so emotionally stretched.  I feel awful that I can’t muster the umph to comfort her for every little thing.  I wonder when she pushed a boundary by showing me a “funny” video laced with F-bombs, was my reaction ok? Does she think I’m mad and frustrated all the time?  I’m usually frustrated and I try not to show it, but more than mad, I’m usually aghast by just how crazy this life is at the moment.

I’m really sick with a sinus infection this morning.  So she started complaining about her ailments to see if she can one up me and if I would let her stay home with me.  She didn’t have a fever, but I did this morning.  So her little narrow butt was dispatched to the bus stop, but not before we had to have another head butt about the need for her to wear a real coat in 22 degree weather with snow storm expected to start later today.  #icant

Nothing about any of this even feels rational.  I just feel like I’m riding the same roller coaster day after day, walking on egg shells, trying to keep things moving.  Cooking, cleaning, laundry…I loathe too much clutter when I’m sick.  I like things tidy when I’m sick.  I needed her to go to school so I could have time to wipe down things with my Clorox wipes, change my sheets, make some chili and homemade bread and nurse myself and my mind.  I’m praying that the storm is delayed so that she stays after for her band practice so that I can relish two additional hours of peacefulness.  The storm means all kinds of bonding time tomorrow…Sigh.  I’m planning to run and get a couple of puzzles.

I’m hoping this Wednesday turnaround gives me the emotional break I need through the end of the week.


Fun Like a Root Canal

So, I registered Hope for school yesterday and today will be her first day even though we’ve got a two hour delay because of more in the southeast/mid-Atlantic region.  I knew both of us were anxious about this step but I didn’t think it would blow up the way it did.  Unfortunately, I had to move my plan to say “yes” to today and later this week because I had to white knuckle not strangling Hope while we were at the school.

So here’s the good news:  Hope took her ADHD meds which meant that she was not bouncing off the walls.  Her school counselor is very, very nice; I’m glad we took a tour and got to meet her during Hope’s earlier visit.   Mrs. Counselor was patient and kind to us, and very reassuring to me about this whole transition.

The bad news?  Well it really was like going to nicest dentist with a great staff and knowing you’re going to get a balloon and some cool stickers before it’s over, but first you’re going to have a root canal without any pain relief.  Enjoy.

Hope struggles with ODD; a lot of great people have really helped her during the last year, and I’ve studied, and I really am trying to not reinforce those behaviors (we take lots of timeouts to not feed the monster).  She’s come a long way, but she still has a long way to go.

Hope’s frustration with the different curriculum and the limited options for half year electives made her lose her ish right in the counselor’s office.  It was painful, embarrassing and just miserable.  My heart broke because I knew this was hard for her; but I was also furious because we discussed the options available to her 3 times before going to the school and I made it clear that I would give her choices, but if she refused to make a choice, a choice would be made for her.  That’s my job.

Of course my apparent expectation that she would be reasonable in retrospect was apparently too high.  The fact that I did my job only infuriated her more.  Then I sent her out to the lobby couch while I discussed her courses and her behavior with the counselor.

It really sucked.

Royally sucked.

The counselor is aware of our new, transitional family status and was reassuring and supportive.  She guessed accurately about my girl’s history of trauma and loss.  She was gentle in asking could she give the teachers a head’s up about this transition so that they try to not overly judge my girl.

I don’t want her labeled; she has so many labels already.  I just want to give her a chance.  But her behavior was so over the top yesterday that I thought it was in her best interest to give them a head’s up.

She really is like an angry feral cat sometimes.  You’re trying to save her and she just keeps hissing and scratching.

So, I’m going to pray that today goes smoothly and that she’ll keep it together and that she’ll have a good day.

That said, I would not be surprised to get a phone call.

Sigh.


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