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Monday, January 30, 2012

Alright, You Listen Here, B!tc#!

This is a followup to my last blog, "Wanted?".  I linked it in case you're curious what went on before.  The summary is:  cryptic and foreboding email from the daycare that presaged the ouster of my little angel from their program.  When inquired about via email, I was deflected and told it was better if we just met. . . 

So between then and the meeting (which occurred this past Friday) I had scoured the internet for clues as to my rights, and as to the laws that govern daycares.  I felt I knew enough to be dangerous and stand my ground, to at least buy time, retreat to lick my wounds and call for help.  I was prepared to speak in polite tones through a cold, emotionless vacuum while pleading an emotional case and falling back to threat of legal action as my nuclear option.

Before I met my wife at home to drive to our meeting, I booked a reservation at a new favorite restaurant of ours, Cioppino, thinking a nice bottle of wine and some good food might do wonders to smooth over our soon-to-be ruffled feathers.  It would be a surprise for Leslie; maybe a little good news on top of bad would help even things out a bit.

My folks were watching the kids, so Leslie and I kissed them goodbye and I drove to the daycare.  It was almost six.  It was dark when we got there, just one more kid left to be picked up.  J--- was there with a worker, who, when the last kid was picked up a few minutes later, also left.

We sat at a large round table, our legs tucked uncomfortably under toddler-sized furniture.  J--- started the conversation by asking us something.  I don't even really remember what it was she asked, I think something to do with the visit to the daycare by our wrap BSC.  Apparently there was some misunderstanding between the daycare and our BSC.  She'd expected the director, J---, and she was nowhere to be found.  So Leslie took that one, essentially saying that the trip, while not a total waste, was to talk to the daycare about any behaviors they might be experiencing and to give them some strategies.  She told it politely, but made it plain that the daycare hosed itself out of an opportunity to pick the brain of someone who might have been able to educate them on how to properly treat Lily.

We discussed Lily's behavior for a bit.  Mostly we just tried to lay out why we feel Lily acts out:  over stimulation, escape, attention seeking, etc.  J--- was a polite audience.  She asked a few questions about the dropoff and I politely and diplomatically (and I'm not even being sarcastic here) sketched my opinion of how it was being handled currently (mass chaos unaddressed by staff) and she listened.  

This has got to be some sort of a trick.

We talked for a little longer about the kindergarten setting, how she doesn't need one-on-one there, just someone to interact with her and redirect as needed.  I made the point that data showed Lily was actually more attentive in the typically developing classroom when her aide was not right next to her, but "faded" and only addressed Lily as needed.  I felt this was a key to our defense against the possibility of "Lily needs one-on-one and we can't afford it" line of reasoning for booting her.  There was more nodding and listening.  And questions.

This was going well. . . too well.

J--- acknowledged how busy it is in the morning and discussed the multiple transitions Lily was experiencing.  First the main room, then upstairs to the little kids room (because of head count, staff takes some of the big kids out to their bus, leaving too many students behind with just one staff member), then back downstairs to the big kids room again when it's time for her bus to leave.  She admitted that staff hasn't been as attentive to the kids (not just Lily's) needs and that sometimes in order to break up the staff conversation, she'll go as far as to put masking tape x's on the floor and tell staff to "stand here" and watch the kids in the area.

And then she said it.

"What if you didn't drop Lily off in the downstairs room anymore before school?"

That was it.  My moment.  I have never been more ready for this shitfight.  It was going to be something like this, "Alright, now you listen to me, bitch. . . "

"What if instead you just brought her upstairs to the main room when you dropped off?  She's only downstairs a half hour before they bring her up anyway, and that would eliminate some of the transition issues."

"Wait. . . what now?" (I didn't actually say that, but I'm so glad I hesitated before jumping down her throat.  I mean, I was poised on the figurative balls of my livid parental feet ready to pounce on this woman.)

We sat in silence for a couple seconds.  My train of thought was completely derailed.  Not. . .stop dropping her off. . . stop dropping her off downstairs.  Um.  Huh!  I asked Leslie what she thought and she said something, I can't remember what, and then I jumped in and said it was fine by me.

We talked some more about strategies for changing Lily when she spits, for avoiding being bitten or hit, for when to engage her and how to redirect her.  We offered names and numbers of people who had already indicated a willingness to discuss how to handle these things with her staff free of charge.  And she wrote notes.  She took names.  She asked questions.

Then she offered to place two people as "lead" Lily staff members.  People who would work, if not one-on-one with Lily, at least make Lily a special focus and responsibility of theirs, one in the morning, and one in the afternoon.  And we jumped at that as well.

And then we packed everything up and she thanked us for meeting with her. . . and we thanked her for meeting with us, and she apologized and said she probably should have had that meeting a month earlier and that she bore some blame for how the staff had handle Lily and hoped this would improve things throughout. 

And Leslie and I got our coats on and walked to the car and got in.  J--- got in her car ahead of us and I saw the brake lights flare up, then dim, and then she drove away.  Leslie and I sat in the car in silence for a couple seconds before I raised an eyebrow and looked at her from the corner of my eye.

"Well, that went well."

And we laughed, both of us shaking our heads at the war we'd expected that had never come.  And we called my folks and she called hers (later) because everyone was worried.  And then we went to dinner and had, not a conciliatory bottle of wine, but a celebratory one.  

And it was good.
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I like ending the blog there. . . you know cause o' the whole Genesis "and he saw that it was good" thing. . . but I wanted to add a footnote.  

These kids. . . people do screw them over sometimes.  Sometimes. . . maybe even MOST of the time they really really have to fight to get what they deserve, and we as parents really have to fight beside them or for them.  But it is nice to know sometimes, to remember, that not everyone is out to get them or us.  Some people just don't understand (and want to) and need to be pointed in the right direction.
Random shot of gratuitous cuteness (hers, not mine)

66 comments:

  1. Aw. Just....hugs. Good hugs.

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  2. I came by looking for this earlier because I wondered all weekend what happened. Awesome ending! I'm really happy for your family!

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    1. I'd have written it sooner. . . but I had issues.

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  3. What a beautiful little girl. I'm glad everything went so well.

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  4. Wow. Someone who listened and cares! Awesome. Apparently, you had good karma coming your way. So glad for you. I was worried about what happened just like everyone else - and hey! Can you teach my husband that trick about the dinner before meeting thing? Cuz, he really needs to learn that one! ;)

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    1. is he an old dog? because you can't teach an old dog new tricks, I've heard.

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  5. Sounds like a pretty good evening! I am in shock that the director listened and had some suggestions. That is awesome! Hope the new plan works well for all.

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  6. YAY!!!!!! So so so glad to hear it turned out that well. That's fantastic news. And yes, it's your gratuitous cuteness too in that photo mister, you can't weasel out of that. ;-P Though I'll grant you Lily's got you beat. Hahahaha.

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    1. She rolls out of bed looking that way. . . I rolled out of bed looking THAT way.

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  7. Phew!!!!!!!!!! So glad to hear some good news- usually these types of stories don't end well- but this is great!

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  8. What a gorgeous girl!
    I'm glad it was such a good meeting. I hope she sticks to her promises & things go more smoothly for Lily.

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  9. YAY! I so glad it worked out for you and that you got to enjoy a nice bottle of wine :)

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    1. I might have enjoyed it a little TOO much honestly.

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  10. That is fantastic news!! What a huge relief.
    Jenn

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  11. So, so happy for you guys!! Whew! I'm sure my back hairs would have been up and bristling, ready for a battle.

    I love happy endings!

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, my righteous wrath was forced to just sorta fizzle.

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  12. Yayy! Although the result was good, you guys totally deserved the night out.

    Cute pic of you two, she's a cutie.

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  13. This has been similar to our experience with the school this year. Basically, since K was 3, we have been screwed over, so now I just walk into meetings guns a'blazing. I even hired a shiny new advocate this year who was willing to kick ass and take names. Then we had an actual meeting and our new team kinda gave us most of what we wanted, cared about home life, and gave us their emails. EMAILS. No more back and forth note writing? No more being told if I asked too many questions they'd cut me out of the loop? And they like DID stuff without me having to force it into the IEP. I had to reel back in the bitch, and have kinda been sitting here waiting for them to get together and do some huge, make-up screw over, b/c the school is never this helpful. HA. I have had to teach myself this year to not always been on the defensive, b/c there are a couple people out there who actually want to help, as hard as it is for me to wrap my head around...

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    1. yay for us not getting screwed !!

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  14. I've actually had a very similar experience this year at my son's school. My 8 year old Max was hitting people and having a lot of melt-downs. There had been talk of doing an IQ test which I'm sure of how much use that would be, but especially not when he was having so much trouble focusing.

    I went in all ready for battle only for it to end up being an awesome meeting with a lot of ideas for helping Max. They had even already dropped the idea of doing an IQ test.

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  15. Ha, I hate when you have a plan of all the marvelous things you're gonna say then you just feel stupid. But in your case, its a good thing. And that is a super cute picture.

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    1. me too! What's the update on the arm?

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    2. She goes to her Physician tomorrow for the cast.

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  17. So glad you guys had those dinner reservations--it must've been very nice to celebrate!!! YAY!

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    1. it was. . . except then I got sick immediately after we got home.

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  18. I'm SO glad it worked out ok! It's a wonderful surprise when people are helpful and open to a true conversation about how to fix something.

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  19. Looks like Lily is managing to bring up the manager as well as her parents. She's a multi-tasker!

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    1. thank god she's doing it all right!

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  20. Yay yay yay! So happy for everyone! Sounds like it's all going to work out - and Lily has totally won them all over there. As well she should. Lily is FANTASTIC. Best news all day!

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  21. I'm so glad that went well for all of you. Both of you are such great parents, you need a break now and then. I'll have to remember to ask Leslie about the new favorite restaurant. I've not heard of this one.

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    1. She really likes it. It's in the Strip. On 24th I think.

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  22. Yay! Woohoo! And right on! I just LOVE those unexpected, pleasant surprises.

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  23. Good work you 2. Nice pic too.

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  24. Yay! Here's to happy endings!

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  25. Congrats! Cooperation is always appreciated, here's hoping that the follow through is smooth.

    PA is a pretty decent state for finding folks who "get" it.

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  26. Super! Glad to hear there are still some decent understanding people out there.

    I think our battles as a parent never end. I'm sure you have greater battles when you're dealing with people who don't understand autism and don't want the extra work involved in understanding and adapting to behaviour. #lazypeople But I'm glad this worked out for you, for once.

    We're fighting the good fight right now. Trying to protect our daughter from cyber bullying (in university, no less). I'm really tired of the immaturity of some people and the pain they cause others.

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    1. cyber bullying is shitty. It can get really intense. Most institutions are trying to crack down on it, it's like a dawning realization that there's this whole new media and people will fuck you over on it just like they do in real life so you better get up to speed.

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  27. I was happy to see the end of the story - wasn't sure what the outcome was going to be. Hope this new drop off plan will make a difference.
    Ms Aweeze

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    1. so far so good. Today was day one. We'll see how she did.

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  28. You know what I don't like about blogger? You have to scroll down past 54 comments! holy crap you have quite the following here! hahaha

    Seriously though.. thats freaking awesome!!!!! YAY FOR LILY! Yay for you all. Sounds like you have a good group of people working with Lily.. thats wonderful Jim. Hope dinner was great :)

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    1. quite honestly, if I didn't feel some weird need to reply to each comment, it would only be half as long. . .

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  29. This was just what I needed to make me smile. It is so nice when things don't get ugly!

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  30. THAT is a happy ending I like! Fingers crossed for better transitions now. BTW, your post today...did you see Shannon's post on the same topic? (Cue Twilight Zone theme here!) http://www.squidalicious.com/2012/02/wait-for-it.html

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    1. I did! I actually commented that it's a weird blogospheric juxtaposition over on her blog this morning.

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  31. Okay, so I know this happened, like, WEEKS ago, but I haven't had a chance to get over here since the post before this one and I really have been wondering since then what happened, but today was the first time I managed to get back here and then I saw the title of the post and I was worried, but then I read the post and it made me SO happy. Congratulations. So now I'm afraid to read the, you know, seventy more recent posts because I'm worried that something will have gone wrong and I will feel sad and I prefer to feel happy about this.

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