Monday, March 26, 2001

Just call me Grumpy

I'm barely entering the IEP phase of this school year, and already I'm grumpy.

I'm grumpy because I just had a lousy visit with my son's neurologist, complete with long waiting-room wait, terrible conduct by the small boy, and differences of opinion on diagnosis and treatment with the doctor herself. I like this neurologist, always have, and I look forward to seeing her every six months to show my guy off. And here he's had a stellar six months, doing wonderfully in school, making progress in so many areas, and he goes in there, the day after his eighth birthday, and displays all his worst and wildest behaviors. Here I was trying to argue that ADHD was an inaccurate diagnosis for him and that neither his teacher nor I thought medication was advisable at this time, and the kid is doing everything but swinging from the light fixtures. The doctor now thinks maybe I need some medication, too.

Disagreeing with professionals is not exactly an unfamiliar experience for pro-active parents who take the time to read and write and learn about what makes their children tick -- but it's exhausting, isn't it? Why doesn't everybody just take my darn word for it. I imagine the professionals, in turn, wonder why I even bother to bring my kids in if I know everything myself. And the answer is: I go so they'll agree with me, and then I'll feel validated and reinforced. If they don't ... I still feel right. But grumpy.

The prognosis for my next few weeks looks grumpier still. Tomorrow, I have a meeting with my daughter's teacher, in which I need to hear that my girl is doing well, and the teacher agrees with everything I'm going to demand from the Child Study Team leader, with whom I am meeting on Wednesday. If she doesn't ... grumpy. The Child Study Team leader is going to give me all the good reasons why, although my daughter did fine in regular-ed third grade with no special supports or modifications, she's going to need resource room a few hours a day in fourth grade. I'm going to try to convince her to give my daughter a chance to succeed before preemptively assuming she's going to fail. I want no resource room as long as her grades would be passing for a regular-ed student -- that is, Ds or better. I'm hoping we can come to this agreement in a small, friendly meeting, so I won't have to debate it in that daunting, intimidating and foregone-conclusion-ruled gauntlet that is an IEP meeting. If not ... grumpy.

Next comes my son's visit to the pediatrician, with whom I have to pick a fight about her directions concerning ... well, I won't give you the gory details, but let's just say it involves the care and hygeine of uncircumcised boys. Her advice goes against my good sense and the opinions of many Internet sites. And you just know she's going to love hearing that I believe information from the Internet more than information from her. No doubt she's going to have a long chat with the neurologist afterward about mothers who are too big for their britches. Is it any wonder I'm grumpy?

From there, I have my daughter's IEP meeting, which better be peaceful and agreeable to myself or my grumpiness will scorch the room. Then my son's IEP meeting, which better be free of surprises. I'm seriously not in the mood for conflict here.

In the end, I know it will all work itself out. My opinion will prevail, as it did, for now, with the neurologist. But sometimes feel nostalgic for those days when I believed everything doctors told me, and let the special-ed folks do whatever they wanted because they knew so much more than me. Though in retrospect I don't agree with some of the decisions made, it was nice not to be the one who had to make them. I wouldn't go back to ignorance and trust, but sometimes the pressure of being the ultimate case manager does weigh on me. If I'm the one forcing things through, and things turn out wrong -- and why shouldn't they sometimes, because I'm neither a doctor nor a professional educator -- I will have no one to blame but myself.

That makes me grumpy, too.

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