The end of the school year is upon us, Angelina’s last day is June 19. This is not only the end to a horrendous school year, but also her last days as an elementary student. When she started fifth grade we expected her to be attending elementary for fifth and sixth, but apparently the school district decided that all of next year’s sixth grade students would now be attending middle school, or transferred to some of the K-8 schools in the area. I have mixed feelings about this, first because I thought I had another year of my child still being a child, and something about her graduating to middle school a year earlier than expected makes me feel apprehensive about the years to come. I know that it shouldn’t, since regardless of what school she goes to, she is already sprouting like a little flower and no longer resembles the little girl she was a year ago.
I haven’t quite decided if it was the start of her metamorphosis that triggered the start of her life with diabetes, of if perhaps it was the insulin that she was lacking before diagnosis, that she now gets externally, that kept her from sprouting sooner. I doubt I’ll ever really know, and regardless it’s irrelevant because it won’t change the fact that it’s happening. It doesn’t stop me from wondering though.
I digress. The point of all this is not that I now am living with a ‘tween, but the fact that I am apprehensive about what next school year will bring. We’ve had some less than stellar experiences with her school this past year, partly due to her diabetes, and partly due to her behavioral issues, which are often exacerbated by her diabetes. Anyone who’s ever seen their normally sweet tempered child have a total emotional meltdown with a high or low blood sugar know what I’m talking about… but with Angelina, those behaviors are a dime a dozen when her blood sugar is NORMAL, they are exponentially worse when blood sugar levels are not where they should be. I’ve explained this a million times, but the teacher asked the school nurse who said “No, that’s not blood sugar related.” and now Angelina gets punished for behaviors she hasn’t learned to identify as high or low blood sugar, and no one seems to understand that treating the blood sugar issue will help treat the behavioral issue.
So here’s where my fear comes in… I don’t know what to expect of middle school. I know earlier this year when I asked for more independence for Angelina in the form of testing and treating in the classroom I was told “We usually don’t do that at the elementary level. Maybe next year when she’s in middle school.” or “She hasn’t shown that she’s responsible to check herself unsupervised and her teacher isn’t trained.” (An aside here… I offered SEVERAL times to give her teacher even just BASIC training and she refused saying “It’s fine, she can go to the office when she needs to.” Nevermind that when Angelina requests to go to the office and it’s not a “scheduled” time her teacher tells her no or to wait until it’s more convenient for the class. Hello!?!? Basic diabetes training would tell you that DIABETES DOES NOT WAIT UNTIL IT’S CONVENIENT. If she says she needs to go to the nurse, she needs to go to the effing nurse!) I’m worried about teachers next year who will only have her part of the day and probably not communicating about what’s going on with her… and her being her getting upset and again being seen as a behavioral problem student. I want her to be more independent, I want her to be able to text/call ME for advice and to relay what is going on during the day, but her current school said she’s not allowed to do that. Will middle school be different? Or will they see a cell phone as a cell phone and again screw things up because they can’t separate Angelina from her diabetes from her ADHD/ODD and resultant behavioral issues?
I’m hoping that new school=clean slate, but at the same time that means that all the staff, teachers, administrators are new to her and don’t know how she works. I wanted to home school her next year, but that has been put on hold. And, if I’m being honest, I don’t really want to home school her, I just don’t want her to be in regular school anymore. I don’t have the patience and the tenacity to be home with her 24/7, let alone spending several hours of each of those days trying to “do school”. I have this illusion that we could make it work, but I think it may be just that- an illusion. So, instead I am stuck in a less than favorable position of watching someone else be frustrated and impatient with her, potentially putting her in danger because they don’t understand her medical conditions, doing emotional harm to her because they don’t understand that she’s not a “bad kid” she just has “problem behaviors”.
She’s such a beautiful person and I don’t know what the right answer is to get her to adulthood and for her to be educated without losing the good person that she really is. I feel like public school is crushing both of our souls. I feel like her staying home with me wouldn’t necessarily be a better option.
All of this pondering on screen is a poor attempt to review her 504 plan and ready any changes that I think she will need for next year. And it crushes me to know that the school will likely agree to the accommodations, and it scares me that we will have a repeat of this year, where everything is agreed to, but the teacher(s) don’t seem to read or follow it without many reminders… often that come AFTER some vital accommodation was previously not followed. I feel like throwing in the towel. but in this fight, I am her voice. I am her advocate. I am the one who knows her and her needs more than anyone else, and I am the one who has to make sure those needs are being met.
I am a d-mom, hear me roar!