I want to get along with preschool directors. I really do.
McDiesel—the same kid who took his Little Boys’ Bible along when he got his blood work done for metabolic panel, is sent home (same day!) with envelope on which are written phrases—uttered by McD verbatim—so disturbing Director would not speak them aloud and had to write them down to show us.
Not as bad as it sounds (if you’re used to a lawless little darling). Typical stuff—McD being as shocking as possible. Killing, hating. Things that make it sound like I let my four-year-old watch MMA, R-rated movies, play Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto, and abuse him on top of it. To really get Lunch Buddies teacher Ms. Pam’s goat, he laughs at his own naughtiness, at her reprimands. Winds up in Director’s office. Pulls his Cheshire cat grin, shows no remorse.
Hence the transcription of threats and phrases we are all too familiar with. Necessitates phone conference (private and serious) next day, which I have come to dread during the past few years.
As braced as I am for the behavior grab-bag every day, it is impossible to prevent my heart sinking at such a report. Days like this, I think regular ADHD wouldn’t be so bad—if McD was the AD type, if McD skipped the ODD, if his BEHAVIOR wasn’t so… enormous and incorrigible and embarrassing.
Blood buzzing as I dial. Is she going to kick McD out of Lunch Buddies? How will we manage work and carpool schedules if she does? Anxiety—shame—skyrockets. Can’t be too defensive; must not cry. We are paying. It’s her staff’s job to make it work for McD. Ms. P is—let’s face it—a B.
Don’t know whether to Tell or not. Never know.
Professionals—child psychiatrist, Beloved Behaviorist—have cautioned against providing more information than is necessary. Labeling—this early—can be dangerous. Special-Ed-teacher sister has cautioned against not providing necessary information to school so that McD’s needs are met. Both sides make sense. Quandary.
Director is in a meeting. Relief rolls over me. Email instead (so much safer!), saying, explaining everything—neurologist, metabolic panel, right brain Swiss cheese, acute behavior cycles—but ADHD. I’ll say—always—everything but that. Hope neurological bit scares her off (can we sue for discrimination or something if McD’s kicked out of Lunch Buddies?) and gives me upper hand (legally and morally) when she returns call.
She returns call. From her cell in her car in the school parking lot. For privacy. N.G.
Within the first minute, I am crying. Apologizing. I sound desperate, crushed, heartbroken. Use all my catch phrases, detail our specialists and interventions. Mention defiance without saying ODD; mention Swiss cheese, lack of filter, nonexistent frustration threshold, and impulsivity without saying ADHD.
And even though I’ve never really liked a preschool director, this one gets it. She is generous and kind and loving about McD. She tells me she knows he’s a good boy. She tells me how smart and observant and perceptive he is. She tells me she’s noticed his behavior most when he doesn’t eat his lunch. She tells me there are no behavior issues outside of Lunch Buddies. She tells me the whole team is praying for us, for McD (which does make me wonder why cell conversation in car is necessary if there’s already been public staff meeting on the subject?).
I am so encouraged by positive tone of discussion that I tell her I think problem is Ms. P. Best of all, I think she even agrees that Ms. P is a B.
And so, before I know what I’m saying, I Tell. In sort of a hurried, breezy way–just kind of throw “ADHD” in there–but still: for the first time, I don’t feel guilty. I don’t feel I’m betraying McD by labeling him—by Telling. I feel like I’m helping.
I feel like I’m getting Ms. P in trouble.