6 Reasons to Throw a Snot-Slingin’ Fit: Back to School Edition

  1. You are reminded that your child is not “regular.”

Monday, I took Carlos to his school to figure out after school care. His school doesn’t have an after school program on-site, so I’ve been talking to them since last spring about options. If he has to ride a bus somewhere, can he ride it to his sister’s school? If not, which school will take him? Does it need to be the school that handles autism students? Will his IEP cover after school accommodations or do I have to send him to a holding pen every afternoon for a few hours? lucy5

I told the receptionist that I was confused and she said, “Just register him at the other school.” Huh? I’m supposed to show up with a kid who doesn’t go there and inform them that he will be arriving by bus every afternoon to a strange environment with people he’s never seen? I asked her to explain it again and she said, “If he were a REGULAR student, it would all make sense, but he’s Special Ed.”

My mouth dropped open.

And here’s why I cried over that: this is the special school where he’s supposed to BE “regular.” I’ve been counting the days to get him back into an environment where people understand Carlos and know how to help him flourish. We survived a summer of daycare where he was out of control and they didn’t have the staff and training to meet special needs. This was supposed to BE the safe place, so “regular” kind of stung.

  1. You spend 2 hours filling out forms so someone can figure out WHY he isn’t “regular.”

I put in a day at work, THEN two hours of running around from school to school, THEN trying to figure out rules that were provided in Spanish because my kid is named Carlos, THEN having a 90-minute “come to Jesus” meeting with one kid who has made some dumb choices, THEN getting a hot fresh dinner on the table, THEN getting supplies and everything ready for school….THEN I sat down at the dining room table to fill out school forms and a thick Parent Questionnaire from the Marcus Center for Autism.

Can your child stand on one foot? When did child first stand on one foot? Can other members of your family stand on one foot? How many extended family members have now or have every experienced problems while standing on one foot? Do you like feet?

Is your child cruel to animals? How much weight did mother gain with pregnancy? Did your child have hiccups in utero?

lucy4Two hours later, I had it filled out. I also felt like the worst mother on earth because I honestly couldn’t remember if he had hiccups in utero. I know Vivi did–every night at 10:30 for a couple of months. It was all new with her and I had time to pay attention to every little thing. Did I notice with Carlos and forget? Did I not notice? What else have I not noticed? So I cried about fetal hiccups.

  1. You have to drop him at school even though he says, “It’s too scawy, Mama.”

Even after meeting his teacher and exploring the room the day before, even with parking and walking him in, even with the Superman shirt and the Spiderman back pack…it was too much for him. He shrieked and collapsed on the doormat in the hallway. He pressed his hands to his ears and curled into a tight ball. I patted and clucked and cooed as the kids and parents passed around us like a rock in a stream.

At least he’s got more words this year to tell me what’s going on. He said, “It’s too scawy, Mama.” I didn’t have any answer to that. It is too scary, honey. And most of the time we have to do scary things anyway.

It only took a few minutes. When I left, he was happily building a robot at his table. But I cried once I made it to the car, because I don’t have an answer when it’s just too scary.

  1. You sit through a hellatious car rider line only to find that your son was put on the bus…to somewhere.

lucy3Yep. Since we didn’t have anywhere to send him after school, I left work at 2:30 and ended up 7621st in line for the car rider pickup. And my air conditioning went out. And two people cut in line and almost got cut.

But the best part was when I got to the front of the line after 45 minutes and his teacher met me with a panicked look and the words, “Carlos got on the bus.” I pulled my car up on the curb and started crying right then and there. They had to call the bus depot and find out which bus. They had to call the bus and tell them to come back. They had to explain all this to me as I stood there in the heat, wiping snot and tears onto the sleeve of my work blouse.

His teacher did a great job of handling the mistake and my feelings. The bus pulled up and Carlos waved to me from the window. We got in the car and he had a strawberry milkshake to celebrate his first day. I cried in the McDonalds drive-thru.

  1. You get snapped at for wanting to park and walk your son into class instead of shoving him out onto the sidewalk from the car rider lane.

This morning, I got there early. I wanted Carlos to have plenty of time and support to make the transition. I sat through the drop off line. I turned from the line into the parking lot and some lady with a walkie-talkie shouts, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING? This is only for Early Learning!”

lucy2Um…I’m taking my son to his classroom…at EARLY LEARNING. What the fuck do you think I’m doing with a kid, a back pack, a car, a turn signal, and a parking lot with four out of 89 spaces occupied?

So maybe I didn’t say exactly that. I walked my kid inside, past the fuming walkie-talkie. I cried a little with rage but I didn’t let him see me. I cried when the traffic director told me that it was OK to do exactly what I had done and I cried some more when I got into the car. I got myself together then checked my email…

  1. You get an email from the autism center that just says, “AGAIN….forms sent in error.”

That’s all. That was the terse reply to my email with the questionnaire, the IEP, an apology for the forms being one day late because they were sent to us while we were out of town.  So I didn’t need to do all that and you already told me? Seems I didn’t get that voicemail because I’ve been too busy getting those forms filled out, hunting down a copy of the IEP that has to be revised because it had a typo on it…and apologizing for the forms being one day late. But I am the asshole for bothering you. Okeydoke. I’ll just be over here crying.

….I. AM. DONE.

37 thoughts on “6 Reasons to Throw a Snot-Slingin’ Fit: Back to School Edition

    1. Baddest Mother Ever Post author

      Hahahaha…it did! I may have to just schedule a 15 minute crying jag each day this week.

      Reply
  1. Amanda Harris

    ^^^^ What Mary said. I’m sorry it’s been such a crappy back-to-school week. You are wonderful and fierce even when the tears are flowing. In fact, that’s part of your fierceness and fabulousness. Love you!

    Reply
  2. Tracy

    Oh, honey. God bless you. My kids are now 29 and 27. I remember Erin’s first tooth and first haircut and first word. I don’t remember Tom being younger than 3…I just remember being tired for about 5 years.

    You are obviously bright and hardworking. You obviously care…about your kids, your family, your co-workers, your job, the environment, public policy and your own mental health. Maybe you care a tinsy bit too much about being all things to everybody but you ARE a Southern woman and that is hard to overcome in one generation.

    Just remember the one IMPORTANT thing, above all else and everyone else, is that you love your kids. It is evident to everyone who knows (‘reads’) you that you do and that is all that matters. I PROMISE you the future (yours and theirs) will eventually work itself out.

    Reply
    1. Baddest Mother Ever Post author

      Thank you thank you thank you! Your sweet words made me laugh…and CRY! There are three albums of pictures of my sister and four pictures of me (I was the third).

      Reply
  3. Stephanie

    Thinking of you, Ashley. Any one of those would be bad enough, but I understand how things pile up and it seems so unfair. I have been having to tell myself lately “this is just a season. It will pass.” But that doesn’t make it easy biding time. I would say “hang in there,” but I know you will. Thanks for letting your followers be your safe place to vent! <3

    Reply
    1. Baddest Mother Ever Post author

      Amen! I’ve been carrying this around, trying to think of something cheerful and interesting and inspiring to write about…when it hit me. Tell the truth.

      Reply
  4. Marian Love

    Bless your heart! If I lived close I would go with you next year on the first day or however many days you need help! First day was hard for me and my kids were at the school where I taught!

    Reply
    1. Baddest Mother Ever Post author

      You know how small my school was–I don’t know how to deal with all this bureaucracy! My mom would have just stopped your husband in the hall and worked it out!

      Reply
  5. Brett

    The best/worst part of all this..is it’s the truth. I get so sick of the phoniness of it ALL. There are days when life as a parent just SUX. It’s difficult enough taking care of myself..add four boys to the mix and yes, i do mean FOUR. And it doesn’t mean i’m a bad mother. It means i’m a REAL MOTHER. Some days it’s all i can do not to pull the covers up over my head and scream FORGET IT!!!~!!! I GIVE UP!!! But like you, then i see that sweet smile, or receive a loving pat and once again my tank is full again. Until it’s not. So, here’s to you Ashley… for keeping it real. #shitjustgotreal #realtalk

    Reply
  6. Chris Antenen

    Went through some of the same with Wes. He hid in the neighbor’s back yard one day. He loved pre-school and kindergarten, but he wasn’t having any of that first grade stuff. Then to top it off they decided to shuffle the first graders around because they had too many and had to add a teacher. I was, as they say, fit to be tied. This is the kid who lost me (notice objective pronoun) in the basement of Sears toy department and was found sitting on a tractor under the store with a familiar smell in his cute little Thomas Textile pants. He’s now probably the most responsible member of our family. Trust us all, Ashley, the tears will turn to laughter one day. This is the stuff that family stories are made of.

    Like Tracy I was tired for about five years (make that ten) and I grew up in the Midwest — supposed to be uncommonly strong and have a twang in my voice. I hate to say this, but there are probably similar days ahead. Skip that word ‘probably.’

    All three of your children are very lucky.

    Reply
    1. Baddest Mother Ever Post author

      Yeah, I’ve been tired for so long I can’t really remember what it’s like to have long thoughts! I hope Wes has gotten that pants situation under control by now.

      Reply
  7. Liz

    Gracious Alive, I feel your pain! I remember hearing Isabella screaming all the way back in her classroom as I was walking out the front doors of the ELC. There are times when they are hurting and you know that you have to keep pushing them forward and it is hard!! I cried many days. And there are definitely more hoops to go through than there are with “average” kids (we like to call them average, b/c there is no such thing as normal.) I think that there is a ring in hell where all you do is fill out questionnaires, call school administrators, talk about IEPs, and scour the internet for providers that offer the services you need. Kudos to you for handling it in any way you see fit! Honestly there will always be cranky and snarky people, and people that only focus on the differences and difficulties, but they are the unlucky ones because they have no idea that these children may have problems, but they also have magic. Unbridled, spontaneous moments of magic that they only share with a select few. So throw a fit, and definitely eat some chocolate, and then realize that everyday you are a stronger and better you, even on the days when you want to throw a fit. Wishing you a better tomorrow!

    Reply
    1. Baddest Mother Ever Post author

      Solidarity, sister! I have thrown my fit now it’s time to move on to chocolate! Tell Isabella I said hello!

      Reply
  8. Fran Tunno

    Always tell the truth, we understand it because we can all identify with it, in one way or another. I am sure crying is probably good for your sinuses too, so let it out. And give yourself and Carlos an extra hug. We are rooting for you!

    Reply
    1. Baddest Mother Ever Post author

      Hahahaha, Fran! My sinuses are getting a good cleaning out between the salt water from vacation and all this crying.

      Reply
  9. likemymamasays

    I am speechless. Bless your heart is all that I can think of to say. Well…I have a few choice words for the “regular” comment wench but they aren’t nice enough to share. I’d hug you and let you snot up my work blouse if I could!

    Reply
  10. Carol Keller Douthit

    God love you Ashley!! I can only imagine how you were feeling during all of this. As a parent of 5, ages 16 to 47, I can assure you it gets easier. And on the days when my 16 year old is driving me to drink, I’ll remember my own words. Hope the remainder of the week is much much better.

    Reply
    1. Baddest Mother Ever Post author

      Hahahaha…a 31 year span in kids just makes me want to curl up in a ball! Keep on keeping on, Carol!

      Reply
  11. mariner2mother

    Holy fuck! What a nightmare! And I thought my last few days were going to do me in. Not compared to what you’ve had to deal with. Although, I swung from steady to losing it, pissed off to crying. And all over my son’s anxiety. He started a 2 week summer school review program at his new school (middle school). Meltdowns and panic attacks the day before. More meltdowns and bitching and complaining the afternoon and all night after the first day of class. Better after the second day. Then I remembered this is how he reacts to everything that is new and different in his life. I’m so sorry for your woes and hope things smooth out soon.

    Reply
    1. Baddest Mother Ever Post author

      Peace to you. It would all be so much easier if we could remember sooner that this is just HOW they react! I hope your son has a great rest of the session.

      Reply
  12. Genie Smith Bernstein

    Ohhhh, Ashely! I wanted to “press my hands to my ears & curl up in a tight ball” just reading and remembering this same phase in my life. Had my share of cries in the car. Will pray harder than ever for you.

    Reply
  13. Mary

    Makes you want to SHRIEK! Soknowwhat it’s like to have people stare at your child and speak about her as though she can’t hear and understand. Have been rude to downright nasty to those acting that way. My daughter deals with the stares and snubs (mothers withdrawing their daughters from dance class because she is there with her grand daughter and her skin is scary to them. I told her once that I wished I could trade places with her. She replied, “Mom, I wouldn’t want that for you.” What a wonderful woman she has turned out to be!

    Reply
    1. Baddest Mother Ever Post author

      Sweet Robin! I can’t imagine living life with no option of invisibility. ALWAYS being noticed. She’s learned grace from that. (And people BE CRAZY. Good grief.)

      Reply
  14. Marie

    I think you should have slapped somebody upside the head… like one of those officious petty bureaucrats you had to deal with. The only people they have any power over are the ones they’re supposed to be helping.

    Reply
  15. Michele

    Oh, Ashley, What a horror for a mom. Hope the tears helped. Hope the moral support helps. I only have one eight-year-old and I can’t remember if she hiccuped much in utero. I hiccuped a lot when she was in utero though…does that mean anything?

    Reply

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