Monday, September 15, 2014

Back to School Night


This was originally published 2 years ago, but I'm sharing it again because I figure it never hurts to get schooled by someone dropping truth bombs. 

All three of my kids have gone to the same preschool. It's attached to our church and I love it so much it’s not even funny. Other preschools don’t even exist for me. It’s like my preschool is Michael Fassbender and your preschool is Michael J Fox. Your preschool is cute and all, and really great but... I like mine a lot.


A couple of weeks ago, I went to Back to School night there. It was my sixth time going to this event at this school, and it doesn’t vary too much. I was not a super excited kitten to be sitting in the exact same meeting I’d sat in on five other occasions. You have to go every year, though because all parents volunteer in the classroom and its part of our training.

So there I was, trying my best to pay attention, which lasted about twelve seconds. And because I couldn’t play with my phone during the presentation because that would be rude, I found myself trying figure out why it was all suddenly so confusing.

Because my beloved preschool director was saying things but she was also not saying things. And the things she was not saying were being conveyed (at least to me) with alarming and sudden clarity. I started to pay more attention. In fact, I started to translate what I thought the Director actually meant from what she was actually saying.  Because she needs to be diplomatic - but she needs to get point across, too.

The first topic I tried to translate was the school's policy on illness. She said something like: 
“It’s our policy to protect all of the children in the school from illness. The guidelines regarding fevers, colds and other infectious and communicable diseases are clearly outlined right here. Please review these guidelines again as no exceptions are made.”
But I believe this is what she meant: 
“Here’s the deal, people. Don't even think about sending your kids to my school if they're sick. And if your kid is feverish and you dose them with Tylenol and then send them to my school to spread whatever they have to all my other students, I WILL FREAKING KNOW. As far as this preschool goes, I am all-powerful and it’s my job to protect small people from things like strep throat and Croup AND YOU WILL NOT THWART ME IN THIS MISSION. So know this: if you send your poor, pitiful, sick kid here so that you can go to the gym – there will be a reckoning.”
She’s really good at her job because we were all automatically like "Yes Ma'am". Then one mom raised her hand and asked: “What about allergies?”

The Director gave her an appraising look, which said to me clear as day “Woman, please. I WILL KNOW. And I will show you no mercy.” But instead she said: “Instances of prolonged, severe or seasonal allergies should be accompanied by a doctor’s note.”  SNAP.

Then we got to the topic of the Kiss and Ride. What she said:
"Our Kiss and Ride service is a privilege. Any persistent rule-breaking (speeding, passing other cars, or getting out of your car) may result in the privilege being removed."
Here's what I'm pretty sure she meant:
"Anyone who speeds or whips around other cars or does anything stupid to endanger THE TINY LITTLE CHILDREN WHO ARE TRYING TO WALK TO THEIR MOMS will be banished to Mordor and the fiery depths of Mount Doom and I'm not even f*cking kidding."
Then she started talking about safety and good behavior and the rules about keeping your hands to yourself and stuff. Time-outs, redirection, zero tolerance for bullying, pretty standard run-through. Then she started talking about when kids are having problems in the classroom. This is what she said:
"Sometimes, when you're volunteering in the classroom, you may observe children having a hard time following directions or behaving themselves in ways that you believe they should. If you're concerned about this, the appropriate thing for you to do is quietly mention it to the teacher. It is not acceptable to talk about children in the hallway, in front of his/her classmates or to chat about it with other parents. While you may not like what you see in the classroom, you do not know that child's situation. We have many children with changes going on at home. At least one kid in every class has either just become or is about to become a big brother or sister. Some children have deployed parents."
What I think she meant was:
"Don't just assume a kid is a brat and a menace because you observed them for an hour. Are you a licensed clinical social worker or child psychologist? What? What was that? NO? Then don't talk about a little, bitty kid that you don't even know."
Then it got interesting:
"We have several children with special needs in our school, some of which we know about and some of which we will learn about in the school year to come. One of these kids may be in your child's class. One of these may even be your child. Please know every child, of every ability, is welcomed and valued here."
A couple of moms raised eyebrows like: "What do you mean there are special needs kids in MY kid's classroom?" And you could tell, in their hearts, they didn't know if that was a good thing or a bad thing. But the Director must have anticipated that, because what she meant was clearly:
"Every child, of every ability is welcomed and valued here. And if you have a problem with that, don't let the door hit you."
[Sidebar: One of my kids had a little girl with Cystic Fibrosis in their class at this school. Was there an announcement about it? No. Did anyone make a big deal of it? No. Did she disturb the class or take attention away from the other children? Can I be totally honest? Not really. Because 1) the teacher was amazing and 2) my kid went through a month-long biting phase that year and almost got kicked out. That four year old with CF was amazing and a total sassypants and seeing the way the whole class accepted her as just another kid was one of the coolest things I've ever seen. And frankly, it taught both me and my so-called "normal" child a thing or two.]

So while I was nodding in agreement like a bobblehead in a windstorm, I began to notice that the reaction of the other parents ranged from total agreement to mild concern to one case of severe constipation. Then shit got real. The Director continued:

"Getting used to a thriving and diverse classroom environment is part of getting kids ready for Kindergarten and for life. We have excellent schools in our community and every single one of them contains children with different needs and abilities. It is extremely likely at some point that your child will have classmates who have ADD, ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, anxiety,  sensory processing issues, or a learning disorder. That is part of life and our education system."
And that's a damn TRUTH BOMB and what I think she meant was this:
"This may come as a shock to some of you, but there is no normal anymore. There are just kids and families dealing with their lives. And if the idea of having a kid with a difference or a special need in your child's classroom is a problem for you, you may want to consider moving to a parallel freaking universe. This is life, please be prepared to deal with it and be cool about it. Because these folks are part of your world and maybe part of your family. And that's me getting you ready for Kindergarten."
And not everyone may agree with that. But I do. And that's why I love our preschool.


(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2012

41 comments:

  1. This is hilarious. Your preschool director for president, I say.

    ReplyDelete
  2. As a parent of a hearing impaired child, I mother furking love your school too.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think I love your preschool.

    ReplyDelete
  4. When I worked in daycare we TOTALLY KNEW who the moms who would dose their kids with tylenol and then send them into school were. THANKS FOR THE HAND FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE BTW. ugh. yes, we know and we love when you make an entire room of infants sick.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I want to hug that director for pointing out that some kids have special needs and that parents of 'normal' kids need to accept that and not get all... snotty about it. Snotty isn't the word I want, but I haven't had coffee yet.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I don't know how could NOT love this. As a parent and a former teacher, we secretly all parents were like you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. *who, not how. I haven't finished my coffee yet.

      Delete
    2. OMG. We secretly WISH all parents were like you. I'm going to stop talking now.

      Delete
  7. I love your preschool. Totally. Everything from the keeping sick kids home to not driving like a moron to being aware and accepting of others who do not quite fit a mold of "typical". Love this!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Best post ever in the history of the world. Every single preschool and school quite frankly should be that awesome. LOVE THIS.

    ReplyDelete
  9. LOVE this ... and this translates WAY beyond preschool .. to like life, and stuff ;)

    ReplyDelete
  10. I had to wait until I stopped ugly crying, to write this. As a mom of 2 special needs awesome kiddos, it makes me want dance and then give you & the preschool director very long and very awkward hugs! Thank you so much for this post and for being such an amazing & super duper human being!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I read your rants all the time and rarely comment (sorry!), but this one deserves a standing ovation and a hearty AMEN!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for sharing :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. I read your rants all the time and rarely comment (sorry!), but this one deserves a standing ovation and a hearty AMEN!!!! Thanks for sharing!

    https://www.whencrazymeetsexhaustion.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
  13. Yes, your preschool is Michael Fassbender (no, I don't know who he is, but he looks pretty hawt). My kids don't go to preschool at the moment, but if they did, I would LOOK FOR A MICHAEL FASSBENDER PRESCHOOL. That woman is amazeballs, and your translation of her is even more so. I had to reread the don't-let-the-door-hit-you part three times, because I thought SHE said it and I was DYING laughing. OH YESSER. It was still cute when my brain caught up...

    ReplyDelete
  14. As a mom of a now Teenage special needs son I cried as I read this..Your preschool is VERY amazing!! I have spent my son's whole life fighting to get him what he needs(to be treated like the other kids in most cases)..We have a 11yr old and now have a 1yr old daughter who by the grace of God are "main stream". No matter what EVERY child special needs, main stream, deployed parent or learning to deal with changes at home they should ALL be treated the same. As I have heard and said myself many times raising a special needs child isn't the worst thing in my life the worst would be if I raised a child who was rude or mean to a special needs child!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I have a child with special needs, and I LOVE your preschool and your director!!!! Love them and love you.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I so wish my school had this kind of meeting! Great way to weed out the meanie moms. Your blog is my absolute all-time favorite! Keep up the great work!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Our Children could have gone to the same preschool, as our Director and each teacher reiterates what you just posted. Though knowing we live in different counties I doubt it. That is the one thing I love, love, love about our preschool. The Director is very diplomatic about what she says but you really know what she is trying to get across. I don't know who Michael Fassbender is but I imagine our preschool is like Mark Harmon (on NCIS(one of the few shows I watch)), all tough on the outside and ready to smack some heads when they need it, but also loving and willing to cuddle and hug those that need that gesture too.

    Jrseygirl in VA

    ReplyDelete
  18. Love this! I worked in preschool for years and while there was a handbook, there was never really any formal parents night where they would lay down the law and say that's how it's gonna be. I love how they are so accepting of all kinds of kids. There certainly is no normal anymore. Well said.

    Off the subject a bit, is it just me or is the type on your page REALLY small today? Is that so you can fit all your great ideas on here? Or maybe I'm just getting old...

    ReplyDelete
  19. My kid got a case of Fifth's Disease from another kid at our daycare/pre-school. Did they post a note saying it was going around?? No. I had a good chat with the teachers about the consequences of one of the SEVERAL pregnant moms contracting it. Then I sent an email to all the pregnant moms I knew. Then they called the Director. Needless to say some people needed a bit of education. Our Director was not quite so good as yours!

    Any parents that would raise their eyebrows at special needs kids being in their class need to get out of the box they have been living in. Our kids are so used to accepting different abilities, races and backgrounds that it is their normal.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I m a preschool teacher...AND I GOT FIFTHS DISEASE!!! It s that time of year...all that coughing and snot. I wanted to turn around and go home.

      Delete
  20. After that post, I would've followed you to the moon so, Sweet Relish will be no problem. I have a child with special needs and I work with special needs children. Your post brought tears to my eyes. Wish more people thought like you. I always say, if not for the grace of God some of these issues we look down on others for having could be our own. Love you and what you do.

    ReplyDelete
  21. As the mother of a special needs preschooler...you furking made me ugly cry! Now who is michael fassbender? Im so old.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Ug... My son has had serious, ER visitin' croup 3 TIMES because of numbskull parents who dose 'em and leave 'em!!! Fever means infection people. INFECTION MEANS CONTAGIOUS!!!! Sorry... it just irks me. I love yer preschool, btw.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I think kids are typically accepting and tolerant at a young age....it is often parents that have issues and are the "bullies" so to speak. I often hear other parents talking about other kids and giving them a label or bad rep. I think its terrible. They are children and are learning....adults should have already learned ! Great article :)

    ReplyDelete
  24. awesome. and freaking testimony to the fact that everything we need to know can be learned in preschool...orientation.

    ReplyDelete
  25. That was great! I loved your "translations" :-) And, as everyone else has already said, your preschool (& director) sounds pretty awesome :-D

    @sadderbutwiser, I agree- the font does seem smaller today.

    And Lydia, why were you at preschool orientation Six times? (maybe that's a rude question -sorry if it is :-/ ) but you only have 3 kids, right?

    ReplyDelete
  26. Typing through tears. As the mom of three (!) special needs kids, AND as a teacher I love that you posted this -especially the part about don't judge the student based on your limited observation. Lordy, Lordy, EVERY student in my class acts up at times! It makes me CRAZY when people judge my kids (and whether I gave birth to them or just care for them 8 hours a day they are MINE!). Plus, thanks for pointing out that parent drop off and pick-up at preschools can be the worst -lol.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I. Love. You.
    Seriously, as a teacher of second graders, that was both funny and enlightening.

    ReplyDelete
  28. It's only a matter of time before my oldest will be diagnosed with adhd...he is in pre k...super smart but super everything else too...I have explain to the neighborhood kids all the time that a lot of his weird behavior is just because he is SOOOOOO HAPPY to see them...I love that your director is laying down the law from the get go...makes the job of moms like me a tad easier.

    ReplyDelete
  29. So great. I think we could all learn a lesson or two from that woman.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Does it make anyone sad that a director HAS to tell PARENTS to be nice, take care of their own sick kids and mind their own business. Sounds a lot like what I teach in my special ed room - "if you have nothing nice to say, be quiet AND unless the other person is in danger or ill - mind your own beeswax"

    ReplyDelete
  31. I love this! I find it irritating for people to look down their noses at a child for being different. I've been told on numerous occasions that my children march to the beat of their own drum (because they don't act like little robots in the classroom, which apparently is unacceptable to the everyone else there). I find offense in the labeling of students at any level, especially when said label is being attached to a child, regardless of age. They have enough social hardship to deal with a slap in the face of something of which they are not. I LOVE that my children are different and take pride in their individuality. It means I'm doing my job right as a parent and letting them discover the world and make their OWN interpretations of it, not mine or anyone else's.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I guess because I've had so many special needs people in my life that I forget there are people who are less than accepting or considerate of the challenges they face. HOW COULD YOU LIVE WITH YOURSELF FOR BEING LIKE THAT? Props to your preschool director for being frank and up front about the expectations. This also makes me so incredibly thankful that my mom has volunteered to leave her career to care for my daughter who will be here any day now. Great post, thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  33. Your preschool director is AwesomeSauce.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I don't know, I worked in a preschool that had a lot of special needs kids, sometimes it worked and was good for everyone. Sometimes not. Really not. I think the special needs child should have an aid for their own safety. I would want to know how much attention they need and how much it would detract from the group as a whole. I would also want that if my child was the one with special needs, because I have seen from both sides how short changed it can be. Both for the child a for the class as a whole. Perhaps it is different now since I worked in daycare over 13 years ago.

    ReplyDelete
  35. I love this! Not all preschools are like this.

    ReplyDelete
  36. First let me say I love the Mommyland Rants, love them so much I often snicker, chuckle, chortle, spew cocoa or coffee, and sometimes I laugh so hard I cry a little bit- you know where you clutch your side like you are an out of shape person who decided one afternoon to run a marathon when you don't ever run unless there is a knife wielding puppet-clown with huge teeth chasing you. What I'm going to say next is in no way meant to belittle or offend you or anyone else who agreed or disagreed with this post, it's just my perspective.We need to stop saying "normal" child. We're continuing the us/them divides. It may seem like splitting hairs or working hard at being PC, which anyone who knows me is aware isn't my style, but instead we should be saying "typical" and "atypical". Just because a child may be labelled as special needs doesn't mean those needs are actually special, it could just mean they require extra time, or patience, or activity, or less sensory stimulation than what we think other children need. An atypical child may not be the kid who is hitting others or being disruptive in class, it may be the child who is years ahead of his classmates in reading or math but can't really differentiate between joking and unpleasant intent, or needs to have tags removed from his clothing because they really bother him/her. Not every child labelled special needs is at the far end of the spectrum, and even if they are in most cases their needs are merely prolonged and not really special. But even if they are special needs (assistance breathing is a special need because normally the human body does it on its own, needing diapers changed at age 7 isn't because we all have them changed at some point), is it really anything to you if you aren't living it? There is a LOT of loathing and hate out there by adults towards children of any ability, let alone those who are atypically developed/ abled. While I think it's important educators are reminding adults to be accepting and decent towards children- because that's what it's coming down to here- it's sad that some of us have to consider this as exceptional behavior by people we are entrusting our children's safety, education, and well being with. This should be standard behavior by not only adults but by educators. Adults; please stop assuming children who are special needs are going to be "brats" or somehow take away from your child's education. In most situations the special needs child has an IEP (individualized education plan) that takes the child's needs into account for either having an aide in the room or pulls the child out of the standard classroom for services, and also accounts for their ability to be in the standard classroom without taking away from the rest of the class. Some folks need to learn what many schools are being 'forced' to teach children through variously named and implemented programs: compassion. ...And yes, kudos to The Director at your childs school for being bold enough to remind grownups that the world is bigger than their own bubble and that there are going to be a variety of people in their child's life that are different than they are- which is really everyone because none of us are the same anyway- and if said parent didn't like that reality they were welcome to kiss it on their way out the door.

    ReplyDelete
  37. I've had 3 kids in 3 different (but equally wonderful) preschools, and attitudes like this were what made them wonderful. Now that kid #3 has been found to be on the autism spectrum, it's been beyond fascinating (mostly in a good way, occasionally horrifying) to see how things are from the "inside". Thanks for always being an advocate and for making me laugh a lot along this ride.

    ReplyDelete

ShareThis

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

What My 9 yr old is reading:

Stuff that Mini Loves

Popular Posts