When Rain Hurts by Mary Evelyn Greene

March 18, 2010

Fall 2009

March 18, 2010. I’m accosted again today at parent pick-up. This time by a middle aged woman who has appointed herself Peter’s protector and guardian. I’m really considering putting the kids on the bus. That way, at least, I wouldn’t have to dodge insults and poorly disguised accusations by certain members of Peter’s special education “team” as I try to corral my children and their belongings toward the car. Today’s guest appearance is the school psychologist, a woman with no children of her own, and apparently no familiarity whatsoever with either FAS or attachment issues. She has been second-guessing our parenting decisions (thus the reference to having no children) and criticizing our choices regarding our son’s educational program since we had the pleasure of meeting in late 2007. When we entered the world of special education, I had no idea we’d be opening our home, our values, our every decision to suspicion and judgment by educators who have never stepped inside our house, who don’t know us outside of school, and who have no business interfering with the privacy of our parenting choices. Today’s accusation revolves around the fact that Peter peed in class this morning. For the last few weeks, since the urologist confirmed no physical problem, and with her blessing, we have been giving Peter a consequence when he wets during the day. Essentially, he needs to pay for his own daytime diapers. If he goes through his $2.00/week allowance, he does chores to earn the money. We’ve been having him do everything from sweeping the mudroom floor to picking up dog poop in the yard now that the snow’s melted. The dog poop chore is naturally the least preferred, and not shockingly, has had the greatest effect. He’s been dry three days in a row (for two consecutive times) when he’s had to do this. When he stays dry, he earns time on his DS, the Wii or he can watch TV. It’s working. He’s been dry more days in the last few weeks than he’s been in the last six months. But the ever vigilant school psychologist needs to inform me this afternoon that Peter is devastated by his latest accident, so much so that she had to have a “double session” with him. Now I love my son, and I also know him. When he finds sympathy in the path of one of his missteps, he grabs hold as tightly as a tick on a dog. While the other parents file out she informs me that she knows about the poop chore and that she can’t help but question the wisdom and compassion of our approach. “You have one devastated, sad little boy who is afraid, ashamed, and mortified of what’s going to happen to him. You can’t think this is helping.” The reality is we hate making Peter do this but it’s next to impossible to get him to accept responsibility for his decisions unless the consequence is something he truly loathes. At dinner, Peter tells us that this woman (oh how I want to use her name!) said that he must feel like we’re “beating him” when we make him do chores for wetting. Yes, that’s right. Beating him. I know Peter makes things up, and its possible she didn’t say these exact words, but she said something close enough – she just about said as much to my face this afternoon. How can we possibly deal with Peter’s attachment issues, the stealing, destruction, toileting misuse, and aggressiveness, when people at school are reinforcing for him that we are bad, that we are hurting him, and that he shouldn’t trust us? This woman isn’t just interfering with our ability to heal and parent our son, she’s actively sabotaging our efforts. She has no right! She refuses to even consider that we have well-considered reasons for making some of the tough decisions we’ve made. We’re trying to make Peter understand cause and effect, action and consequence, and assume at least an iota of personal accountability. Maybe its time Pat and I start interjecting ourselves into certain “team” members’ private lives. I must admit, the thought does make me smile.

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  1. Sad but true that people can and are so judgmental when they don’t have a clue!

    Comment by Miss Victoria — March 19, 2010 @ 7:27 am | Reply

  2. Oh yes!

    There can’t be too many consequences out there which Peter loathes.

    It’s good that he pays for his nappies.

    And this is the sort of thing (special education interference) that they don’t warn you about when you become a parent, especially to a challenging child like Peter.

    Comment by Adelaide Dupont — March 19, 2010 @ 8:10 pm | Reply

  3. YOU live the life….It never ceases to amaze me that many in education seem “to know” what’s best when it comes to OUR children! You and Pat are Peter’s best advocates…..don’t ever loose sight of this! People (educators) assume an awful lot, not always knowing or understanding the reasons why parents take loving, but strong stands with their own children. I applaud your efforts.

    Comment by suzanne — March 19, 2010 @ 9:15 pm | Reply

  4. Hi Mary, I have enjoyed reading your blog. Thanks for sharing. I’m hoping you will want to trade books. I just published “Snowflakes, a Flurry of Adoption Stories by, for and about children and teens.” (200 stories, many by 8- to 19-year-olds…it has both happy and difficult stories through all parts of the adoption process. It is not just the happy and bright moments that kids share, but the difficult and challenging ones as well. There are about 10 stories included in my book about RAD. What I’m learning now is that there are many levels of RAD…it is quite a spectrum. Thanks for sharing your story. Please email if you would like to exchange books (if you do, in fact, have your book in book form…or is it just on your blog? On another note…our son has been home from St. Petersburg for over 12 years. I hope you’ll be in touch. Thanks. Teresa tk.pacifica@gmail.com

    Comment by Teresa Kelleher — March 20, 2010 @ 11:03 pm | Reply

  5. Hi,

    I happened upon your blog from a FB adoption group. I am really enjoying reading it; my son has some similar issues as yours, so I am completely relating to many of your stories.

    I have found a tremendous amount of support and help with this method: http://www.beyondconsequences.com/

    and with this support group of parents with kids with similar issues:

    There are lots of us there, parenting children with institutional backgrounds and all the “fun” behaviors that go with it. You should check out her book-Beyond Consequences, Logic and Control, and her newest book Dare to Love. It may give you a whole different perspective on dealing with your children, it is brain-based and love-based. And best of all YOU (and your husband) will feel better. I don’t get nearly as frustrated with my son’s behaviors as I used to since using her methods. And a lot of the things my son used to do to get attention, to bug me, etc. are gone. Yes, gone. So check it out, you might very well find something you can use!

    p.s. Oh and i completely understand about information overload. Yes, been there doing that. But trust me, I know what you’re dealing with on a daily basis and this will help you!

    Comment by Elizabeth — March 20, 2010 @ 11:10 pm | Reply

  6. I think you do need to get involved in this woman’s life or at least in her professional life, by which I mean I think you need to go over her head and lodge a formal complaint. By undermining your efforts with your son she is also undermining him. She is allowing him to manipulate and triangulate btw the school and home and that is not healthy or beneficial for anyone concerned, least of all him. She needs to be required to get some training specifically in relation to RAD if she is going to work with your son. I think you are well within your rights to insist upon this and if she does not get on the same page then demand another educational psychologist. Ed. Psychs know how to test for learning disabilities and IQ. They are not RAD experts. She is way out of her league.

    Comment by Errin Weigel — March 24, 2010 @ 7:40 pm | Reply

  7. From a strictly eduational//maturational standpoint a child should learn to take care of a pet — cleaning, feeding, walking, and yes, disposing of it’s poop. Learning these tasks are the beginning of “transitional planning” –ie, being able to work; Your son also tends to be manipulative — as he approaches tween and teen years that could be problem. I would not let this negative comment, almost an accusation really, go without reply. Suggest you have follow-up backup from your doctor, get new school psychologist (district will have list of independent providers if you raise a fuss). “Token economy” rewards and consequences works well with Peter; he makes logical connections.

    Suggest you inform the district about his tendency to smear you, your family and entire rooms with feces. If “Peter’s protector” so objects to consequences to his anti-social behavior, gently murmur that if he becomes “irked” with her, he may so express himself.\

    Ive taught for 20 years, often spec. ed kids, and adopted from Ukraine in 2004.
    I met Jane Aronson about the same time you did but had a very opposite opinion.

    Comment by Barbara — March 27, 2010 @ 9:37 pm | Reply

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