Sunday, April 27, 2014

Don't Hold Back

Learning is like rowing upstream: not to advance is to drop back. ~Chinese Proverb

Carefree Scootch blowing bubbles at the park
School has proved to be a struggle for Scootch. I noticed the social differences in him as young as age three when I was taking him to story time in the library. He usually refused to participate, or insisted on sitting on the outside of the circle rug so he could just observe or limit his interaction. Comparing him to Monkey at that age or to Little Bear at his current age is like a study in opposites. And even though everyone tells you not to compare your children, it has always been something that niggled at the back of my mind. Preschool repeated the same process, but as the year progressed, Scootch really grew up and spread his wings. I was so emotional at the end of the year at his preschool graduation seeing this bright, social, bubbly little boy. The complete opposite of the sullen withdrawn child that started the school year.

When Kindergarten rolled around, Scootch was nothing but pumped to get started. I saw no nerves or hesitation. I was so hopeful that he had left his withdrawn behavior behind. Little did I know what awaited. From his very first report card, his teacher has been concerned with his listening skills, social skills, motor skills, and work habits. The repeating themes of "self control" and "focus" came up every week when I stopped to chat with her on the days I volunteered at the school. The "comments" section of his report card has gotten more and more crowded every marking period with the list of things he's having difficulties with - even as his grades have steadily improved.

Last Friday I went in to meet with Scootch's teacher before the day started. Third period report cards were being sent home that day, and I figured I would go in to talk to her about the challenges she was having with him instead of making her write everything down. The good news was that his grades were the highest they've ever been - all "Progressing Towards Mastery" or above. The bad news is that she still felt he would benefit by being held back to repeat Kindergarten next year until he could get his behavior under control, and that that would probably be her recommendation for him at the end of the year.

I don't think there are words to describe the feeling you get when a teacher tells you those words about your kid. Especially when academically speaking, he's bright, and smart, and mastering everything they have been learning. To you, your child is just your child. Loud or quiet, hyper or calm, funny or serious. But it seems the time has come that I need to look beyond his behavior as just Scootch being Scootch. This behavior needs to be analyzed and most likely identified. My feeling right now is that if we don't seek help for Scootch now, we will be creating a larger problem down the road. And as much as my heart breaks that getting help has a high possibility of earning him a "label" for the rest of his academic career, maybe that dreaded mark might actually make his emotional load easier to bear. Perhaps a diagnosis will yield assistance in school, so his frustration levels cease to push him to the point of tears multiple times a day.

The next few weeks, and most likely months, promise to be challenging and stressful. I've already lined up requests, and meetings, and consults, and appointments. The list of people we need to see range from school staff to therapists and neurologists. Its daunting. And scary. And I previously had a good cry about it. This is not another challenge I want my son to bear. But in some ways, I already know Scootch has the strength to get through it. With all the issues and shortcomings we've dealt with concerning his food allergies, I've come to admire the way he can so easily bounce back from a setback. The way he never fails to keep racing forward after an obstacle, usually laughing the entire way. I think I need to just take a page from his book and keep moving forward, no matter what. Because I don't want anything to dim that bright light in his eyes. The flame of his intelligent spirit just waiting to burst free. I never want to have to hold him back from being the best he can be.

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