I headed to tech with my son's class, with math folders in hand, find an empty table, and get to work checking their minute math pages, while keeping an eye out for "help" flags in case I am needed. A few folders in, the crying girl joins us, I notice the teacher return with the other student a bit later. Before the classroom teacher has even walked away, the tech teacher is on the boy's case to throw away his gum before sitting at his computer. He resisted at first, but eventually made the decision to lose the gum, the gum the classroom teacher gives him, because it helps him find more success during the days at school, the gum she gives him because she takes time to try to figure him out and help him succeed.
When I saw her again, the classroom teacher was clearly upset, but her expression was introspective. . . I could tell she was not upset at the student, but upset at herself. I have felt this feeling with my own son, so that old cliche, "It takes one to know one." I guess it applies. This was not the right opportunity for me to speak, so I waited. As the kids waded through the last of their end of day routines, my mind was already on the message I wanted to give this classroom teacher. Now, don't think I am an egomaniac who thinks she has all the answers, far from it! but I have been the parent of one of these frustating and wonderful children for 11 years and when I saw the look on the teacher's face, I had a feeling that she might need my words. I was right, we exchanged emails, and essentially she told me she felt like she was failing him! She has had a cold, is feeling tired, a lot going on at home, less patient, and he is having a rough spell.
So my last words to her I think were the most important, because I had to learn them for myself and accept them for the truth in order to keep trying, trying to be the best mom I can be to another quirky frustrating amazing boy.
You are not failing, you are tired, and He is a tricky and special kid. It does not feel hard because you re doing anything wrong, it feels hard because it IS hard :-) (this is my mantra) This student is very lucky to have you on his side this year! Rest well!
I hope she is able to hear this message and take it to heart. I hope that she doesn't think I am just sending her some kind of fluff or trying to sound like a know it all mom. I hope she can hear that those words I wrote are true, and that they help her navigate the bumpy roads that tricky children leave in their wake for teachers and parents to follow. I hope she will understand that her frustration with herself is evidence she is really doing so much right, this is a bump, don't change course, don't turn back, breath deep and lean in, tomorrow is another day, another chance, for everyone.