The Difference Between Teachers and Parents

Recently I received an email from Monkey’s new teacher stating parent teacher conferences had to be postponed because she was injured the previous Friday at the school. No names were given, or how she was hurt. So naturally I had to ask the question. Was it Monkey that hurt you? This is the awkward part of parenting a child like Monkey. He has previously broken a teacher’s finger. He has ripped shirts and wreaked absolute havoc at different periods of his school career. With my youngest son Mater it is simple. I can ask him how his day was and he can tell me. He can say whether he is having problems, and give me an idea of how he is being treated as well as how he is treating others. Normal kid stuff. Monkey on the other hand can’t speak or communicate such intricate topics which means he also can’t really be reeled in. There’s no coaching your son at home to support the schools or ways to get him to understand that he is being mean to people who are taking care of him.  You have to fly blind right along with him each day he gets on that bus. No guidance to effectively give, and no idea of what call you may get that afternoon. It’s disarming as a parent.

Back to the injured teacher; Monkey didn’t do it! Awesome! He’s not becoming a hardened criminal lol… His plans for world domination shall wait another day.

No matter how many times something like this comes up you never stop feeling bad when your child hurts someone else. The school knows you can’t stop it. They know you care and want to help support them, but you still have a child that you simply can’t keep from misbehaving in a literal sense. As a result you end up feeling responsible for what the child may have done just like you would with any of your children. Except in this case there’s no punishment or method to influence his behavior. It’s more like a report of the facts for my knowledge more so than a complaint from the school. That’s a really difficult thing to accept if you’re involved, at least it is for me. It’s a different kind of tight rope to walk when maintaining relationships with the school.

I’m strict as a parent just as much as I am protective. Unlike my youngest son that I can simply have a conversation with. I can’t be a part of Monkey’s day once he gets on the bus or when he gets home. I have to be protective and investigate any signs of bruising from day-to-day. Even if I know that they are from his rifton chair (restraint system). After several years of experience you learn where those bruises are located from restraints, and how often they should show up, etc. You have to remain ever vigilant in questioning the school to fully investigate each and every instance, no matter how normal it may become to see the bruising. Despite the fact that the same school could very well be calling YOU that day to let you know that you’re child injured the staff, or another child.

These are the tightropes and challenges that have developed me as a person over the years. It’s interesting because for every time that my son has tried my patience and perseverance he has also taught me major life lessons. My patience, which I am definitely the epitome of patience , isn’t something I started with as a new parent. It developed and grew over time.

Parents dealing with the struggles related to disabilities in their children, and the special needs that come with them have to bear the same cross. That hopelessness supported by reality. The reality that you can’t help like you would want to. You can’t make it all better, and in some cases you can’t truly protect your child like you would want to. On top of it all, you may not have the personality that would best support a child with these needs. That’s the stinger. You’ll see it when the doctors start pouring out what you need to do next, and how you need to feed them, or teach them, or train them. I always wanted kids so I adapted easily to the parenting part. But my version of it. Not the doctor’s or school’s version. I had dreams of my way to do it.  What you learn real quick though is that those things need to be addressed. That the doctors and schools may not be right about everything but they do tend to know what the general direction needs to be.

I realize that no parent is everything their kid needs. It just somehow gets highlighted as a personal flaw when disabilities are involved. Not sure why, but there is a different ownership because the things they need are the same things that the doctors, schools, and specialists are suggesting. The problem is they all think their area of study is most important. However, I don’t see three doctors, the schools, and the specialist helping me out when I have to cook, clean, and plan for the next day. You simply can’t do it all, and that is the aspect I think doctors and specialist have a hard time understanding. They see their bubble in the situation and not everything else that needs to happen to simply make it through the day. So despite the good intentions of the experts you have to find where reality fits when it comes to how much you can do from day-to-day, consistently. The hardest part is that you have to admit this on a personal level before you can let go of that stress and turmoil. Until you do that there is this weird guilt and sense of responsibility that simply isn’t realistic. That’s true no matter how much you love your child.

The reason I brought his teacher in to this is because there is a distinction between the teachers and the parents that may shed some light on the overall logic in this situation. It made it easier for me to cope in the long run with the stress and the sense of personal failures towards my son.

The teachers chose a profession based on their personality and interests. No one chose to have a child with disabilities. That’s a big distinction. That being said, I found it much easier to cope with life and the stress by accepting that I am doing my best with what I have to work with. That doesn’t mean that I can ever stop striving to know more and be more for my children. However, the reality is that children with autism take a lot of different personalities to raise, and I haven’t met anyone that has all of them.  Our family didn’t choose this. It simply wasn’t in the brochure. Logic would dictate it isn’t worth carrying the guilt as if we did.

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