Tuesday 30 September 2014

My Son Doesn't Understand Me!

I am having a bad Mom day.

I've been trying to keep my head up for a little too long and this morning I just crashed, so I need to vent a little.

My son doesn't understand me, or anyone else for that matter.  At least that's how it feels right now.

Last night I had a meeting with Frack's teacher.  He doesn't understand her.  Which isn't all that surprising since she only speaks French to him.

After much debate and discussing it with Frack's teachers my husband and I decided to enroll Frack in French Immersion.  We are fully prepared to take him out at any time.  As you may already know Frack was speech delayed and had only graduated from his speech therapy about a year ago.  I have a certificate and everything: "Congratulations!  Frack is considered to be at his age level for language development."

But the thing is Frack has always had difficulty with abstract language concepts.  He can point to and name any object you like, count to any number, recite whatever you want him to recite.  But he will confuse "on" with "under" or "beside".  He gets confused trying to sort out the difference between "more than" and "less than".  He has a hard time following instructions and when he feels confused or frustrated he shuts right down and will only communicate the things he knows.  Or he will only agree with and repeat anything you say because he thinks that is the right answer and he doesn't know what else to do.

He is often afraid to admit that he doesn't understand you because he thinks it's "wrong".  He can't stand being wrong.  Trying to get information out of him is crazy-making.  You have a word limit.  After speaking about thirty or so words at him he just starts giving you answers he thinks you want because he no longer understands you, if he ever did in the first place.  On top of that he might change his answers several times during the conversation, trying to give you what he thinks you want.

The devil of all this is, like most small children, he is also capable of very shrewd understanding.  He often says things that let me know he understands far more than I give him credit for.  If he is relaxed and happy his comprehension seems to be very good, if limited from time to time.

I had to explain all of this to Frack's teacher last night.  And, yet again, I found myself in the position of having to apologize to a professional educator for having to have my son in their class.

Because Frack is not adjusting to grade 1 well at all.  It's hard to be at his desk all day.  The work is hard for him because he just does not understand what is expected of him.  So he gets frustrated, shuts down, and refuses to participate or put any effort forth.  And yesterday, he took things to a whole new level by angrily defacing his school work and being rude and disrespectful to his teacher.

At first I really tried to keep myself up.  Hey, at least I have a lot of practice dealing with frustrated teachers, right?  I guess we'll just have to come up with some strategies to help Frack.  Sure, we can do this!

But you know what?  I'm just so fucking tired right now.  I had a particularly bad weekend at work, but I stayed positive to help out my team.  My husband is out of town for work, so I'm missing my partner to hear me cry and rage and vent, and then help me come up with solutions.  I had to spend a lot of time on the phone with my mother in-law, who had been watching the kids for me while I was at work.  My older son, who I had hoped would know better, to whom I had promised very hefty bribes for good behaviour, was out of control for almost the whole time he was with her.  Consequently I spent a good part of my afternoon contacting his two social workers and pediatrician.

This meeting was the last straw.  I felt like I was being told, "Congratulations Mrs. Rotten, you've got another academic career full of parent-teacher meetings and disciplinary bullshit stretching out ahead of you!"

And even though I started off trying to be positive about it, my attitude deteriorated as I watched Frack spend his night moping and sullenly punishing himself.  He spent a good two hours sitting in the time-out spot even though I kept telling him I wasn't mad and he didn't have to sit there.  I tried to talk to him about it but I hit my thirty-word mark and watched him turn into an uncomprehending robot in front of me.  He got angry at me during cuddle time because he had asked me a question and could not understand that I was answering it, so he kept asking it over and over.

And all I could think was, "Why can't I talk to my son?  He's done with speech therapy, it's not supposed to be this way!"

And then this morning, he didn't seem to understand anything I was saying to him and I had a bad moment and I yelled at him.  And watching him stand there, heroically trying not to cry, I broke down.  I decided to keep him home from school for today, and I spent about ten minutes in our basement, selfishly sobbing my heart out.

Because I know I'm supposed to be stronger than this.  I know I'm supposed to be grateful for my son the way he is: healthy, strong and wonderful.  But right now I just need a little moment to wallow in self-pity.  Just five more minutes or so, please.  I think if I can have that I'll be able splash a little cold water on my face and get back to the business of figuring out what our next step is going to be.

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