How We Got To Here (Part 5)

Damien started school and- to put it mildly- disaster ensued.

At the outset, his first day at school obviously started with photographs and an early morning trip to Mommy and Daddy Darling for photographs and good wishes. Then when he started his first class that morning, he was in a class of almost FIFTY scholars- and he had no desk. I was very worried when I left. It was a dual medium school (English and Afrikaans) and their plan was to have two Afrikaans first language classes and one English first language class- I dunno how they miscalculated so badly, but they had WAY too many English speaking grade ones. They then decided to hire another teacher to take half the class, and this took two weeks. Within a couple of weeks of Damien starting with the new teacher I started getting phone calls and letters. Now bear in mind that grade ones have one class and one teacher, they don’t change classes or anything… Then came the first parent teacher evening of the year (between mid-January and about March) and I was very excited! I arrived on time (this was before I was given appointed times for parents evenings) and Damien’s teacher met me at the classroom door. There were already a couple of other parents sitting at their kids desks on tiny chairs and marveling over their little darling’s class work. That was what I wanted to do. I introduced myself to the teacher and she immediately adopted a defensive stance with her arms crossed (I didn’t even get an invite to sit down) and launched into an obviously prepared speech about Damien’s lack of control in class. Right there in the doorway. We had to move aside for other parents who were coming in and out of the class. She said Damien never stopped talking/ making noises/ giggling/ shouting/ playing; he was never in his seat; he never did what he was told; he didn’t listen when she spoke… Obviously (and I think I had good reason) I disliked her instantly, and when she finished talking (while I was having flashbacks of Damien in nursery school) I asked her what we were going to do, and what I could do to help. Her exact words were (and I’ll never forget them) “Well I dunno- I’ve given up.”

I swear wanted to hit her!

Okay hang on- I’m getting upset just typing this out- I’ll be back.

Sorry- it’s about 30 minutes later and I’m back, and calmer.

The year did not improve either. After the devastating parents evening, I went to see the principal and requested that he be moved to the other English class, but he said it would be disruptive because someone else would have to switch with him. He suggested waiting to see how it went. I was not happy, but I figured they knew what they were doing. At the end of the second term (round June) and after receiving a shocking report, I again asked that he be moved. The principal now said it was too late in the year to do something like that. I was not at all happy, and neither was Damien. He was failing miserably and they had already started speaking to me about him repeating grade one. Oh how his nursery school teacher’s words echoed in my head…

Poor Damien got painted with the wayward brush early on, and it stuck, of course… One of his favourite stunts during his first year at school was to go out at break and disappear up a tree. After break someone would be sent to find him (usually a prefect) and he would then flat ignore the prefect once he was discovered. Eventually a teacher would be dispatched to get him down and back to his class.

It was a long year. And it was about halfway through the year that the school started talking about Damien repeating the year and that I started looking for a doctor to check out this ADD “thing”.

To put it mildly- I was desperate.

part 1part 2part 3part 4part 6

7 thoughts on “How We Got To Here (Part 5)

  1. spookie: thanx sis!

    dawn: i really do sometimes wonder about the teachers and just what they’re doing there… and this is indeed a good way to release the “bad vibes”, and it helps me think things through ‘coz i analyse them while i write!

    peong: thanx dude!
    i’m doing very well- haven’t had heartburn in a month! eating is coming on slowly, i am still taking too-big bites sometimes and then it gets stuck in my throat- i don’t choke but it hurts like a mother trucker!

    tom: educating the teachers is a big problem because they aren’t taught in college- damien’s first high school teacher had never taught an ADHDer and knew nothing about it.

  2. What I don’t understand is why the school didn’t do anything? Surely during teacher training they educate future teachers about ADD and it’s symptoms, and how to handle it? Surely it’s not just enough to just shout at the parent as though it’s their own fault?

    Why could they not have sat down with you and outlined the problems, and together worked on ways to deal with it?

    ugh… schools and teachers. you get good ones… and really crap ones.

  3. I can’t believe the teacher either. I ‘ve worked in a large class of third graders before and I remember the um… zoo like atmosphere, so I can understand teacher frustration. But my mother has taught 1st and 3rd grade for 25 years and if there is one thing she hates its parent apathy, and from everything I can tell you were anything but apathetic towards working with the teachers and the school to do what was best for both you and your boy. Had you not been willing to work with her, I could understand her attitude, but as is- you should have slapped her.

    I’ve been really busy so I just wanted to say hi and I hope you are still recovering well.

  4. You know, you read this and you wonder how some of these people end up teaching our kids. I had a strong urge to slap that teacher. The more I read your stories, the more I am reminded how essential it is for parents to be totally, 100% present in the children’s lives – whether there are problems/difficulties/challenges or not – and let’s face it, who doesn’t come up against one of those elements at every growing up stage. Thank you so much for sharing this – I can totally understand how it brings your emotions to the surface … and it is a good way for you to release some of that energy too. xox

  5. And it’s a good thing you did go and find out about the ADD “thing”, you were probably the only one fighting for Damien at that time – and he needed and still needs all the soldiers he can get.
    I am SO proud of you, you have come a loooooong way sis. I can’t wait for part 6!!!

Comments are closed.