Dear Teacher

Dear Teacher:

I don’t want your unsolicited advice on how to handle my kid at home.  No offense intended, but here’s why:

  • She has a plethora of therapists/doctors already working on her care that know a lot more about her diagnosis and treatments, and have decades of training in these fields.
  • I get unsolicited advice from people all the time.  It gets old.

So if I seem frustrated with you, I’m sorry.  But here’s the deal: Most of what you tell me is either going to blow up in my face or has already been tried and failed.  Your experience and training is with neurotypical, undamaged children.  My child is brain damaged, literally, from trauma, abuse, neglect, fetal alcohol, fetal drug abuse, a multitude of things that made my child anything but neurotypical in how her brain works.  I’m not trying to be rude by shutting you down when you start rolling off the advice.  I’m not trying to be a “non-compliant” parent.  But in reality, you do not have anything to offer me.  I, however, have plenty to offer you which is why I’m here.

You may not see the behaviors in my kid that I do.  If I’ve chosen to share the details that I see with my kid, then you should take that as an honor that I’ve entrusted you with the details of my child’s life.  That doesn’t mean I’m looking for advice.  I’m trying to give you insight into how my child thinks and what drives my child when she’s in your care.  I certainly do not expect, intend, or want you to take these details and share them with ANYONE ELSE – EVER.

All kids behave differently in different situations.  That’s reality.  So when say “I NEVER see that here, little Janie is soooooo sweeettt!” the message you are sending is: YOU are doing something wrong, parent, because I don’t see the behavior here, so YOU must be causing the behavior.  In this day and age, that just is contrary, not only how neurotypical kids act in general, but also contrary to psychology of trauma children as well.  Trust me, as the parent, because the only thing I’m doing is trying to make my child successful.  It’s a painful, horrible journey at times, and I need your support.  And you may need mine when my child brings out her true self in your classroom.

If you really want to help my child – not this group of kids this year as a whole, but MY child – then work with me, not against me.  Don’t judge me or waste our precious meeting time with advice on my parenting skills when I’ve already told you all the doctors and specialists already involved her care.   When I say, “Don’t overpraise my kid for things she should/can already do” and your response is, “But all kids need praise! It makes her whole face light up!” I know I’ve already lost this battle.  My kid has won, all she has to do, instead of learning and trying harder under your care, is do something she can easily do, and wait for your praise, and give you a fake facial expression, and she’s off the hook for actually working and learning in school.  You’ve been manipulated and you’re not listening to the one person on this planet who wants this child to succeed more than anything in life.  You’re talking to the person who would die for this child, jump in front of a bus for her, do you really think I don’t want her to be praised when she does well?

I get it, my kid is hard.  She requires thought and not roboting your way through a teacher day, and doing what you’ve always done in the same old way.  You as a teacher have a lot to do in that classroom with all those little minds.  And you’ve got a lot of special needs little minds in there too, each with their own special way of looking at things, and mine’s just another square peg being shoved into a round hole.  I do get that, I think teachers are the greatest and I think they are wonderful.  I had the best teachers and education growing up, even though I was in a teeny tiny rural area.  I wish the same for my children, to get the best education they can.

I’m trying to work with you.  If I’ve shared details of her life outside of the classroom it’s because I trusted you, and I felt it was necessary to help you in helping my child.  You’re not the first one to throw it back in my face, and you won’t be the last.  But my child is not the first child of trauma you’ve encountered, and she won’t be the last.  So I hope the next time you see a frustrated mom snap at you to listen to her rather than blaming her for what’s happening at home, you think of this mom and dad crying themselves to sleep because this young girl is destroying her life at such a young age because of the trauma she endured, the money they’ve spent, cleaned out their bank accounts to find help outside of what’s allowed on their healthcare plan, no vacations for this family, no new cars, it all goes into medical for this child, you think about the fear these parents have if their child continues down the path they are going – because they’ve seen it before, in other children with the same issues – where they see their child on the streets, in a life of crime, being abused or being the abuser, and how it breaks their hearts because they love them so much.  Dear Teacher, think of this mom who took a risk to share details with you in order to help you help her child, and what she goes through every day in trying to help her child.  And maybe, just maybe, next time, you can give a bit of grace if the exhausted mom gets a bit snappy when you keep interrupting her.  And just maybe, instead of cutting off communication and writing the mom off as crazy, think about what this mom is trying to do for her kid.  So many parents of the children in your classroom don’t even show up for anything.  They don’t sign paperwork, help with homework, communicate with you in any way, shape or form.  Their children wake up by themselves, fix their own breakfast, and walk to school, locking the door behind them.  Here’s a parent who is involved and wanting to help their child.  You should respect that.