So this is where I was with my son back in April. Transcribing this voice recording was gut wrenching for me. In April, my struggle to get my son back to class after multiple absences came to a crisis point. He fell farther and farther behind in his challenging honors curriculum. He was overwhelmed. I was at my wits’ end.
Since then, we had him assessed for special accommodations which never went into place because he did not go back to his regular high school in the fall. We then enrolled him in online classes which didn’t work out because he needs teacher feedback. Finally this week, he started one-on-one private school. Each day, he attends 50 minutes of one-on-one teaching for which he does one week of homework either independently at home or on campus where a tutor is available.
For those who don’t want to listen to seven minutes of me bemoaning the situation back in April, here’s a transcript of my voice recording.
Parenting Fail Self Care Fail Transcript
Okay, today has been a complete parenting fail and failure to take care of myself so that I can be a better parent.
My son’s been sick a lot recently. Every winter, every spring, he gets sick A LOT. I’ve taken him to doctors. Still, he gets sick. Every year he starts out in the fall getting straight A’s, and then in the spring he has to do a whole bunch of catch up because of his absences.
Well, now he’s in high school, and he’s in like hard core International Baccalaureate and AP classes. I mean all honors classes. And, today… last week he was sick.
Yesterday he went to school, but he didn’t do all of his homework. He said he had it under control. He didn’t. He asked to wake up early this morning to complete an English project. Wasn’t able to do the project. Curled up in a ball. Didn’t want to do it. Said he was tired.
My husband said he was up all night awake. I don’t know what the deal is there. But, he kept on falling asleep, curling up in a ball, wouldn’t get up, wouldn’t wake up, wouldn’t do the homework, wouldn’t get ready for school.
So, I just smacked him with my hand. Wrong. Abusive. I gave him a smack sideways. Hit his arm. He started to cry. Okay, you’re awake. Do your homework. Get ready for school. We’ve got to go. You can’t miss school. Not doing your homework is not an excused absence. I can’t take you to the doctor for an excuse for not doing your homework. Because at this point I have to take him to the doctor every FUCKING time he is absent from school because he is beyond the allotted absences.
Okay. He cries. He crawls up into a more tighter… he is in a little fetal ball. I swat his bottom. I hit him again. I say, you’ve got to go to school. I don’t care you’re not done with this project. I’m going to print it out as is. I don’t care if it’s not done. You can’t not go to school. You can’t miss your first period in order to do the homework for your second period. You have to go to school.
So I took him to school. He’s distraught. He ignores me. He…
I walk, because I want to go to see the guidance counselor or somebody about the whole situation because I’m just out of my wits. I go.
He ignores me all the way to class walking from the car. He walks a different way.
I go to the guidance counselor. I tell her the situation, the history. We take a look at what his teachers recommended for next year.
Two teachers recommended honors classes – in the classes that aren’t even his best classes, like English, his class that he just… is really hard for him to do, is like pulling teeth. He writes beautifully, but getting up in front of people and reading what he writes and writing very intense, metaphorical stuff – not so easy for him. So, he’s in this, like, advanced class, that he probably doesn’t belong. So he’s… They recommend that. They recommend another AP History. They recommend the honors English. Math, though, his best subject, now recommended regular Algebra 2. Because he’s getting a C because he’s been absent.
Fuck. I don’t actually care. He can be in all regular classes. But it makes no sense for him to be in honors classes on the classes that are most difficult for him, or at least not in the classes that he has the most passion for, but has missed the most.
Oh, he’s missed them all. But, you know, I mean, you can read something, you can do your history. But, you really, if the teacher teaches something differently than the book is. And, honors geometry, he keeps on saying the teacher teaches it differently than the technique in the book. And, when my husband tries to teach it, my husband’s an engineer, the way that he teaches it to people… Whatever.
So, major fail. I’m completely distraught. I blew up this evening at my husband over this whole situation.
Guidance counselor says maybe independent study, maybe a smaller private school, maybe, you know, whatever different options. Get him assessed by the psychologist. Get him special ed…
Kid has been in treatment since he was four years old. I’m fed up. I’m fed up. Fed up with taking him to doctors.
I will keep on taking him to his psychiatrist and to a psychologist. I will do what I can to try and get him well, but I am so fed up. I am so fed up with trying to drag this kid to school. I am so fed up with trying to drag him to do homework. I am so fed up with setting limits around video playing when he gets so obsessed.
I’m just done.
I hope all will work out. Now I’m at the hospital with my mother who had a stroke.
So sorry about all this struggle! How is he doing now? Do you think it’ll get easier after he gets used to going to school? Maybe that’s what he needs. Best wishes, Kitt, for a resolution to your son’r problems.
Thank you. Not my finest moment.
I admire your bravery in admitting smacking your son, and I admire your honesty in this post. I don’t have any words for what this post made me think and feel, but it’s a brutally honest and brave post.
There are cultural differences, and the pendulum has swung perhaps too far and labeled normal behavior as abusive. Animals swat at each other to play, to communicate, to keep each other in line. Not necessarily abusive.
I completely understand. And not to ruin my anonymity but my mom used to smack me all the time. Jamaican parents are culturally known to do that. Honestly people get worked up over things too easily. I can tell you’re not beating your kid. I don’t know you personally but I can easily see that. But your blog is your blog. Say what you want and screw the haters.
Actually, someone close to me worries about me blogging about the fact that I smacked my son in April (not really hard, but still not okay). I lost it. I didn’t beat him. No bruises physically – but emotionally, yes, I hurt him. CPS would not intervene. I know. I used to report abuse to CPS. Besides, I told our psychiatrist about it. Parents are imperfect. We do the best we can. Sometimes making a mistake, failing, leads to positive change.
I was raw that day in April. Now I’m hopeful. Small growing hope. That my son is talking to me more about what interests him intellectually is HUGE. He’s coming out of his depression. He’s recovering. We all are. The loss of my husband’s brother had a profound effect on us, as I’m sure the loss of Craig’s brother does on him, your daughters and you.
Thank you again, Dyane. It was tough listening to that recording again as I transcribed it and made the slides. He seems much more confident this week, which is GREAT!
Awesome! Wish my mom was like you growing up. So jealous.
He’s actually a great kid, but extremely sensitive and easily overwhelmed. Yes, he is, or at least was, a perfectionist. I used to expect straight A’s from him, and he used to achieve at that level. No more high expectations. Now, the expectation is that he catch up. I let him fail. Now he can set reasonable goals and achieve them.
Yes, it is. More you push, the more they resist. I basically let my son fail in order for him to eventually succeed.
and “p.s. I just listened to the recording and it brought tears to my eyes. I don’t blame you for feeling fed up! Anyone with a beating heart would be at his/her wit’s end about this, Kitt. Sending you even more love. Thank you for sharing your soul with us that way.”
Found my comments (yes – 2 – I was so affected by what you and your son were going through I had to write a couple times!) back in April – hope you don’t mind my sharing them again. “I’m so, so sorry….I know I’d react in a similar way, i.e. the spank & anger/losing control. Many, many other parents would react that way too, but they’d never admit the truth so bravely as you do here.
As I shared with you yesterday, I am so glad you’ve been proactive about this entire situation, such as contacting his counselor, emailing the school psychologist etc.
Sending you my love and strength to get through this incredibly challenging time.
So. First off I wanna say that I respect you and admire how tirelessly you work for your son to make sure he is getting the best education he can get. You are a fantastic mom and I like how you find ways to help him with his studies.
But. And it’s just my opinion. And I don’t know you and your son. And I don’t have kids. And I’m in no place to give you advice.
What I think is the issue, is this kid is over ambitious and he wears himself out.
He is a perfectionist that whenever something small interferes with his success he falls into a hole and thinks the whole world is gonna end. So he stops trying. And the more you push him, the more he pushes back because, in his mind, he has already given up all hope of ever pleasing you. And when you’re angry he just figures that you’re going to be angry no matter what he does because he is the “problem” kid and has always been one.
I might be WAY WAY off! But that sounds a lot like me. I was never THAT bad. But I definitely lost interest when I failed at something.
Maybe when he isn’t having a moody episode you can just ask him how he feels about school and why he is skipping classes and falling behind. I bet he probably think it’s pointless. Then maybe you can work with him to get him motivated and let him know it’s OK if he feels overwhelmed.
Idunno. I feel like I had to say something.
I side with you btw. He sounds like a headache.
Feel free to call me out and tell me off but I just wanted to put my 2 cents in.
I am so glad to hear that. Never forget that you ARE a caring and compassionate Mother but you are also human. Don’t berate yourself for having a bad day. The critical thing is you continue to learn, love and live. What more can you ask of someone?!
I’m glad your son seems better. I wish I could give you advice, but we’re going through this now with our two youngest daughters. We have to drag them to school (they’re 13 and 16), we have to convince the school that they’re faking illness trying to come home, we have to force them to sit down in front of their homework, we have to push them while they refuse to do the work. It’s so frustrating. One has a developmental delay, the other is brilliant, but won’t apply herself. It’s so frustrating…
Thank you so much, Vic. So far this week is going well. My son seems more confident, which is fabulous.
First of all Kitt, sending a much needed virtual hug your way.
As a parent, I am not sure what to tell you and would feel absolutely wrong to give you advice. So all I will do is empathize and lend you my emotional support.
Take care – in the corner of team Kitt here and cheering you on!