“There are only seven days in the week and ‘someday’ isn’t one of them.” ~R. Chand
Monkey was an Honor Roll Student last year. Four marking periods in a row, she came home with that bright piece of paper tucked in with her report card. And she was proud of herself. Glowing. So unafraid to try new things, or jump in headfirst. This September came and it was like we were given a changeling. Our bright, funny Monkey was sullen, and upset. Then brooding and depressed. We thought it was just back to school blues. Then we thought it might just be the fact that she was changing classes for the first time this year. Or that it was just the change in curriculum, the change in the class, the change in her peers. And we met with her teachers. We brought last year’s teachers in to commiserate with this year’s teachers to compare her behavior from year to year. We implemented some stopgaps to try and get her through the adjustment period. But nothing we did seemed to help her. Just like with Scootch, the refrain was just to wait and see. Someday she would come around. Eventually, in early December, she started to give up. And all the doubts I had been having, all the instances I kept listening to everyone else assuring me she was just adjusting to third grade, and all the insecurity I had about having her undergo testing to try to get to the bottom of what she was going through went right out the window at that point. It was my sign. ‘Someday’ was finally here.
Monkey had announced to me when she was four years old that she wanted to be a ballerina. She loved the costumes, the tutus, and the pretty pink slippers. She was fascinated with pointe shoes, and loved watching her Barbie and the Twelve Dancing Princesses DVD over and over and over again. When I signed her up for her first dance class, she was so upset with me that she had to take tap lessons too. And resented the fact that every child at her age had to waste precious ballet time learning something else. I remember last year she had said she didn’t want to continue dance, but I triple and quadruple checked before signing her back up this year, and she assured me she still loved ballet. So, imagine my confusion and panic when she turned around one day and told me she hated dance and didn’t want to go anymore. It was a huge fight getting her to actually go to class that night (because she made the announcement only 1 hour before class started, of course). But I made her go and stick through the last class, and then tell her teacher directly that she wasn’t continuing and why. She told her instructor that dance “wasn’t fun anymore” and that she couldn’t do it “because it was just too hard.”
If that wasn’t disheartening enough, she has continued with the same trend in every other avenue of activity. My little girl who constantly sings around the house and in the car with me, decided she didn’t want to sing in chorus anymore. Last year she was so thrilled to participate in the chorus event at the local minor league baseball park, and this year she wasn’t even interested in signing up to learn the music. In September, she was so crushed to learn that street hockey practice was the same night as her ballet class, so she couldn’t play on the league like her brother. This month, now that sign ups for Spring session are here, she says she’s not the least bit interested in playing. Its scary, and sad, and quite frankly, put me in momma bear mode. Something was definitely wrong, and needed to be fixed. Now. Before she started to backslide somewhere else.
I finally got a meeting with the Child Study Team at her school. But the group that had been so helpful and proactive with Scootch, seemed more dismissive and challenging with my Monkey. The one team member even told me that she didn’t think my daughter had an issue, but that she was just jealous and manipulating me. Needless to say, they denied the proposal to give her an evaluation. Not really what I wanted to hear. So I set up an appointment with Scootch’s neurologist to have Monkey evaluated independently. We went in on Christmas Eve to have her tested, and it was the best Christmas present ever when the practitioner told me that number 1 - I wasn’t crazy, and number 2 - Monkey definitely met all the criteria for ADHD.
Not that it fixed anything. Diagnosis in hand, it has still been a long month of forms, and emails, and waiting, waiting, waiting. After submitting the paperwork there was the wait for them to review it. Then another wait while they forwarded it to the guidance counselor for her review. Then the counselor and Child Study Team had to meet with the teachers to discuss it. Meanwhile, I was given weekly emails that let me know what was going on, and asked additional questions when they needed clarifications. And I was getting nervous because the email correspondence wasn’t sounding promising. But finally, the day arrived when we got to meet with the school to have a determination hearing.
To say the meeting was suspenseful was an understatement. We went in there with the feeling that they were going to deny us accommodations for Monkey just from the feedback we were getting from the email replies. Then the actual meeting was another complete rehash of everything we had addressed and they had discussed. They left their findings and determination for the very end, but, ultimately, we prevailed. Monkey now has 504 Accommodations added to her education plan, and we can all take a deep breath and step back to see if this helps her thrive. I’m sure that there are still plenty of obstacles and adjustments to come, but we are halfway through the year and I’m finally feeling somewhat at peace with her school situation. Along with her counseling sessions, I’m hoping that the Monkey from last August will find her way back to us. I really miss seeing her glow.