School Shakedown
0 comment Thursday, June 12, 2014 |
Sun was shining today and for the first time in months, I decided I'd venture into town as the whole Valentine's Day thing was going to get to me otherwise. I ignored pain and fatigue (four hours sleep last night), ignored everything but the bright, beautiful day. I bought myself a piece of indulgent chocolate cake. I purchased not one bouquet of flowers, but two. I got the usual cheese-straws and biscuit for child, and I wandered about and did my best to enjoy the day.
Riding home on the bus I saw one of the mum's from my son's school; the one my child attempted to strangle, so of course I was horrified, but it turns out that her daughter and my son are best mates and the girl announced to her mum "He didn't really mean it, he can't help it. He's my friend." They're inseparable and she actually said she was very proud of her daughter and shooed off my apologies as she's heard of my son. She had rather scathing things to say about the school however and a few suspicions were confirmed.
Even so, all the while I was blissed out on the day, until I got home and realised my mobile had been ringing. A LOT. And then the phone rang: it was the head-teacher. I've come to treat this calls with tired resignation but this caught me up - child's behaviour today was so bad they were going to exclude him, and I was to pick him up immediately.
Gone the day euphoria, replaced instead by frantically searching for taxi money - and cursing my earlier frivolity with self-indulgence as I would have had that money otherwise. A call to ex who had also been trying to ring me resulted in him paying for a cab for me via his own card so I could get son. He had called my son's social worker who was so useless that I will never call the man for help ever again. Thank you, Big Society.
In any event, rushing to the school and talking with ex, the school apparently has moved for a Change of Placement; in other words, they're done. The named pupil allowance they get isn't worth the headache so the holding onto my son for his extra paycheque was no longer worth it. Now, what they would normally tolerate, they were going to start excluding him for, leaving a definite paper trail to follow - and maybe that's what needs to happen.
In any event, I went into the school and was greeted by very grim faces; one of the assistants was fighting off tears. Child had literally destroyed the quiet room (which honestly still looks like a cage); ripped books, tore off the blinds, and as they held the door shut he was pacing like a tiger and yelling. I managed to hold in my temper and they let me in. He didn't even register it was me at first and kept kicking off even more - and even I could see he was playacting. He was "performing" for his audience; which is probably why he gets so out of control there as they lock him in and then stare inside. "Autism experts" indeed! Still I managed to hold it steady and said his name, firmly, then said "Stop." Immediately, the display was over. And he knew it.
He came out shamefaced and yet somewhat smiling. He'd forgotten everything, as he does, but of course everyone else certainly had not. Is it really any surprise he kicks off every Monday when these faces surround him, just waiting for him to blow up?
I managed to get him out of there and into the cab, and he'll be home with me till Thursday. I've got some really insulting meeting to attend that morning to "discuss" his return to school - however again, this seems to be an exercise. If the LEA won't take things seriously, then the school has to leave a paper trail.
On the one hand, I'm furious - granted I had said several times now that this sort of behaviour my son has been doing would in any other child result in exclusion. So why not my son? Well, again, leave enough paper trail and the LEA will move a child or step in directly - and what I have suspected (and what was confirmed today by the other mum as she suspects the same) is in these times of New Austerity, my son's named pupil allow was worth too much money to risk. So they tried to keep it off the record, under the table, doing things quietly as if somehow they were doing me a favour. But that money isn't theirs, it's my son's. It isn't for them to cling to and want to hoard just for the sake of it, and now as I've shot right over their heads and got the LEA directly involved, they're having to admit it now, admit they can't control such a child with major behaviour problems, and the parents won't put up with their children coming home battered and bruised.
Ex has warned me (as if I didn't already know!) that the LEA meeting for child's placement into a special school will take a few months. And, likely as not, there will be more exclusions in child's future. I'll have to reserve some cash on hand for emergency taxi trips and will try and keep my schedule as open as I can manage it. But, this also means that the LEA has little choice now but to grant the request to move my son, and to do it fast before my son's behaviour means a permanent exclusion.
In the interim, what have we done today? be truthful there is zero point in trying to punish my son as he honestly doesn't understand what he did or why. "I can't help it" he said, even though the headteacher tried to chastise him "But can't you try - " "He probably did," I responded. "He's right...he can't help it, he doesn't have that ability inbuilt." I wanted to add "and locking him in a small room, watching him sternly through a window won't help" but I refrained. What we DID do was eat lunch, get changed out of school clothes ("I don't like that school, mum" - "I know, son. I know.") and then head out into the garden for some dedicated gardening time. He very enthusiastically tore weeds out the ground, planted some runner strawberries with a care that made me proud and then - to my surprise as he hasn't been inside the thing in yonks - child went and played for nearly an hour in his Wumpy House whilst I bustled about planting more strawberries in his windowboxes as his request, checked on what was growing and what needed tidying up (the hollyhocks are bursting out of the ground already!) Brought some compost up to where I'm going to allow strawberries to self-sow themselves along the house and then spread some more along the hollyhocks (but they'll get a manure topdress shortly). I may cover them with leaves as I'm sure we're going to get some really brutal frost soon and I don't want to lose them.
In any event, things aren't so bad today (and I was up most the night, worrying and tearful and in pain). I'm sleep depped like mad and it will be difficult to get through the next two days as we are both effectively "grounded" only a week before half term, but we certainly have been till now. At least with spring coming we can do some planting. Where I upended the toms and peppers last year, the soil and roots broke down into a lovely, worm-filled compost which I think will do nicely for getting some seeds going, so shall do that tomorrow.
We will manage. We will get by. And child is enthusiastic about flowers and digging and wumpy houses again. Surely, it's not so difficult to get him to respond with smiles if you give him the chance to work on his schedule, not yours.

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