Navigating the Letdowns of a New School Year – by Cara Potapshyn Meyers
My son is a very independent, self-confident, intelligent, self assured nine-year-old. He is also persistent, perseverant and displays many leadership qualities. All of these characteristics are terrific. Except when my son becomes extremely frustrated and angry, which he has been lately.
As many of you know, my son has a learning disorder called Auditory Processing Disorder. The neurochemicals in my son’s brain are not syncing well. As a result, when my son was tested both by the Auditory Processing specialist as well as his new teacher, he went down a level in reading. My son was devastated. He took a literacy program during the summer for two hours a day, five days a week for five weeks. In addition, he also was tutored in speech and reading during the weeks before and after the literacy program. And we encouraged him to read, read, read! None of this helped him even stay at the same reading level. I completely understand how he feels. If I was up for a promotion and worked my tail off only to find out that I was demoted, I would be devastated too. My son’s intense disappointment, though, is now permeating through other relationships he is having with his family, his teachers, even his friends. He’s mad at the world, and everyone knows it.
For some reason, my son is not the only one who is having new school year difficulties . I have another friend whose son has been angry about how much screen time he is being limited to. He is also displaying some frustration over homework requirements. Another friend, with a daughter who is a new Kindergartener, is dealing with vomiting issues. Her daughter has only gone to school two days since school began. Her teacher is concerned about the amount of work this little girl is missing (yes, in Kindergarten) and is frantically calling and e-mailing my friend. My friend has already brought her daughter to the doctor three times and the doctor strongly feels that the vomiting is a symptom of difficulties this little girl is having transitioning into Kindergarten. My friend sent her daughter to school and her daughter vomited in the classroom within an hour, was sent to the nurse and subsequently sent home.
What is going on with this school year?
For both my son and my friend’s daughter, counseling may be advised. My son is becoming extremely resistant to reading anything at all. What he does read, he reads with no regard as to whether he pronounces words correctly or even whether what he reads even makes sense. He is giving up. What is worse is that if we try to help him ourselves with his reading or try to include professionals to help him, he resists even more and becomes terribly uncooperative. Unfortunately, if we allow him to back off, he is going to fall further and further behind, thus perpetuating the cycle of not being able to keep up with his peers. Eventually this will affect his self esteem. But will my son also resist counseling? A good counselor should be able to help him get past that, but it is another area where my son is going to feel “different” from his peers. Talk about being in between a rock and a hard place!
Then there is my friend’s daughter. Both my friend and her husband work long hours. They have parents who are frequently in and out of the hospital. Their Nanny does not drive. Very few counselors make “house calls.” Other than the school social worker or psychologist, how is this little girl going to get help?
I am truly feeling for all parents whose children are having “new school year” issues. I know we are not the only ones who are having difficulties. Even more frustrating, I polled parents who had children in fourth grade last year and every parent gave me the same teacher’s name as “the best.” I dropped “hints” with the Assistant Principal, who I know well. I had “private” discussions with my son’s wonderful third grade teacher, who I knew would be part of the ultimate team of decision makers who would determine which fourth grade teacher would be the best for my son. My advocacy paid off! My son got the teacher we hoped he would get! And my son truly likes and respects his teacher. He is just as angry as can be that life dealt him a bad hand. He needs to realize that life does not always go the way you plan. Sometimes learning the hard way is “brutal,” but having reality slap you in the face sometimes is what you need to get you motivated to propel you forward. With my son’s strong attributes, I am sincerely hoping that this becomes the case. My son is just so angry right now, he won’t express how he feels, nor his disappointment, nor even listen to hard luck stories that his father and I have experienced in school when we were young. This is not good. Shoving such emotions down inside you is never healthy. I would rather my son rant and rave and throw pillows if he has to. But so far, that doesn’t look like it is going to happen anytime soon.
I hope my son will eventually open up. Or that he becomes accepting of working with a counselor. Either way, his anger needs to be addressed. It is a shame that he won’t confide in me as he typically does. His rage is so monumental, it is beyond even his comprehension. Thus, his difficulty in verbalizing it. It hurts, as a parent, seeing your child hurting. It hurts even more when you know how this hurt needs to be corrected. Especially when your child just wants to push it down inside himself. I hope I can get him to lighten up enough to have a calm, heart to heart conversation. He has a few days off from school this week, so I might be able to catch him during some good “down time.” Let’s hope this can lead to some better understanding for us both. Or at least curb some of this incredible rage.