"That Mom"

I try very hard not to be “that mom.” The mom who is always calling the school, who seems to want special privileges for her child/ren. However, this year, I seem to be becoming “that mom.”

It started with me approaching the principal to talk about setting up accommodations for Abby for 4th grade, or at least letting me know who her teacher would be, so I could talk to her face to face about Abby’s challenges in the classroom, and the THREE things I think it will take for her to be totally successful, both in the classroom, and in the rest of her day next year. Abby does VERY well in school. She loves school, and she works VERY hard, both academically and to control herself during the day. She expends A LOT of energy, just to behave. So when the day is over, and she gets home, she is tired, and she is DONE with behaving. She just CAN’T anymore. I accept that, and we roll with it, for the most part. However, I think there are a couple of things that the teacher can do next year, that will make it so she doesn’t have to expend quite so much energy just behaving. The principal shot me down, with the statement of, “we only have one child in the school with ADHD severe enough for accommodations, and unless Abigayle is failing, it won’t even be considered.” Legally, she really can’t say that. As a parent, I always have the right to request a 504 meeting. However, I have to work there occasionally, and I would rather NOT have my work environment be stressed and strained. Before anyone says, “it’s your child’s education, you should push for what she needs, no matter what!” I can say with absolute assuredness that Abby will be fine, academically, no matter what. She is not going to fail 4th grade if I don’t get the accommodations I want in place. So, I’m torn as to what to do, and I’m more than a little irritated with the principal. (as an aside, every teacher I’ve talked to about this thinks the principal is being totally out of line.) As for the “accommodations” I’m looking for…allowing her to chew gum…an accepted accommodation to help with the impulsive talking out that is common in ADHD; the ability to stand while doing seat work; and to make sure that her instructional seat is in front of the teacher.
Secondly, today is Field Day. I’ve never heard of a school NOT wanting parent volunteers at Field Day, but our school is notorious for not wanting parent volunteers, or parents in the school at all…for whatever reason. I think it’s bizarre, but I’ve never found it particularly CONCERNING, until now. I emailed the kindergarten teacher, and asked if I could please be there, with Mariella’s medication. It would make ME more comfortable as a parent. I even degraded myself, saying that I knew I was being an over protective parent. I got an email back stating that “I could come and be on the side lines, but Mrs. T really doesn’t want parents hanging around and helping.” I’ll say that it’s not that I don’t trust the school nurse, I just trust ME more. I don’t expect the teachers to read Mariella’s subtle signs of distress. I’m a little afraid that if she’s playing and having fun, she might not listen to her lungs as well as she normally does. We’ve been very successful in keeping her ER trips to a minimum, and have totally avoided emergency admissions…and I’d like to keep it that way. So, I know the principal isn’t happy with me, but really, when it comes to my kids health, I don’t really care.
So, I’m “that mom.” The mom I always said I wouldn’t be. The one who seems to want special privileges for my kids. However, I don’t think they are special…or even privileges. I think that my children deserve the best they can get for their education, and the best they can get for their health, and if I have to fight people for that, well, that’s what I’m going to do.
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5 Responses to “"That Mom"”


  1. 1 Sarah June 15, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Honestly, I would speak to the principal and ask if he would deny a child who needs glasses to see the board the use of them because the child knows enough about how to cope without glasses that they won’t fail without their glasses. It’s the exact same thing. No, Abby won’t fail without it, but she also won’t be able to work to her full potential.

    As for Mariella, my mom was the exact same when I was a kid, after one of my schools forgot to bring emergency medications along on a field trip and then didn’t call mom when I started getting wheezy. Fortunately for me, most of my schools were very good about it, and fortunately for Mom, I didn’t think about what other kids thought of Mom coming along with me on field trips (I was a wierd kid, and I grew up into a wierd adult… most of the time, when I overhear others describing me, it’s something along the lines of, “She’s a nice girl, very smart, but a little strange.”).

  2. 2 Amy June 15, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    That’s a tough one. My inclination, always, is “Be the bitch when you have to be.” (Can I say that here? Just edit me if you need to.)

    But then if you sub there sometimes, I can see how that complicates the issue. I’m guessing that not working there isn’t an option?

    My nephew in Florida, the one on the autism spectrum, just had an amazing teacher for 3rd grade. She made every accommodation she could for him and she figured out how to discipline him for the things he could control but to understand the things he can’t control as easily. And he not only has the usual behavioral complications of spectrum kids, but some of the physical tics well. The point is, some of his tendencies could be disruptive for other kids and also keep him from learning what he needs to, even though he’s very smart, but his teacher was so phenomenal that the whole class (a typical class, not an ESE one) had a wonderful year together. And this is in Florida, which supposedly doesn’t have a good education system. (Well, some places in FL don’t, but this school is great.)

    The Field Day thing is even more bizarre. If anything, my girls’ school has too many opportunities for parent involvement during the day, and I just can’t make it to all of them! In fact, most parents were at Field Day – it was packed.

    I think I’d be doing just what you’re doing. I mean, if the the principal’s the unreasonable one and she thinks you’re being unreasonable – who cares, right? Actually, knowing myself, I’d probably show up for everything, just to antagonize her.

    Because if you’re “that mom,” it’s only because the principal’s stance is making you that mom.

    Either way, I’m sorry you have to be.

  3. 3 Sara C. June 15, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    I spoke with my mom, who is a school occupational therapy assistant in NH…basically, because I wanted to clarify that yes, I am legally in my right to ask for accommodations, and that what I was thinking wasn’t inappropriate. She gave me some avenues to pursue, but they will need to wait until September.

    I just wish it didn’t have to be so HARD.

  4. 4 Carolyn S. June 15, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    It’s such a delicate balancing act to advocate for your child while not pissing off other care providers (teachers, nurses, doctors).

  5. 5 kerri June 16, 2010 at 1:01 am

    Okay, I know everything went well today with field day, and I’m stoked about that, even if you had to be “that mom”, so I’m gonna focus on Abby here.

    You know what I spent an entire term learning in my education class? EVERYTHING in education is changing, and as educators, we had to be ready to rise to that challenge. That involved technology, learning styles, relevance AND a large section on inconspicuously accommodating for kids with ADHD. (We had an AWESOME guest speaker, the Dean of Education, discuss his experience with his daughter who is now in her 30s and a teacher herself!)

    And most of the accomodations we discussed? Were SIMPLE. Even if she’s succeeding academically, if she’s not enjoying herself in school because she’s having to use energy to pent up her energy (so to speak), and then consequently isn’t enjoying herself (or being able to be her fun/happy self at home) at home, then that’s something that needs to be dealt with. Academics ARE the main reason that we have to go to school, but they’re not the ONLY reason! How is she doing socially at school, btw? [I know it’s NOT the case with all kids, but our speaker’s daughter had problems keeping friends.]

    Your accommodations don’t sound unreasonable, although I can understand why some educators would be apprehensive about the gum one ;-), it can get messy. One of the resource teachers at my high school gave some of her students “fidget toys”–quiet, plastic manipulative toys that kept their hands busy so that they COULD focus better, and it helped a LOT. She always gave me them to play with when I was hanging out in her room or if I was there for extra help with math. I’m a multitasker and a fidgeter, I totally get the needing to move thing! Okay, I admit it, I’m kinda chatty too, I have to work on that, I drove my English prof nuts. Oops.)

    Other suggestions I’d have is maybe seeing if there are ways to integrate allowing her to move more in a constructive way in school, the standing up to work thing is GREAT (I won’t even start on how much I think physical activity needs to be integrated into the REGULAR classroom). Our speaker suggested that one thing that worked for his daughter was being a runner for the teacher when he/she noticed she was getting fidgety. A quick break to run something down to the office and back [during independent work time] was their solution for that, and it apparently helped a lot.

    Okay, I could keep rambling on, but you probably know all this already. BUT, keep working with the school for her to have the best experience in school AND at home possible. As you know, the simple things make all the difference! You just gotta get the school on the same page with you, which can be a pain in the butt. Good luck!


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