I'm pretty sure the person that said Pumpkin is afraid of me works at the school.
I'm pretty sure it is in reference to a time or two when I had to pick Pumpkin up early for some appointment or another. When Pumpkin's routine gets disturbed...she gets disturbed. I have figured out that a soft sing-song-y approach does not work for Pumpkin. She responds better to a stern, "knock it off". Add that to any frustration I may have already been feeling and I guess I might come across as uncaring.
I've tried to not think about the investigation. But I can't seem to stop. There are only so many professionals in our circle and I've talked to most of them since this madness started. I'm pretty sure the negative comment about me had to have come from someone at the school. I'm almost positive it wasn't the teacher though.
Which puts me in a weird place.
I want to be involved with the school. But I don't want to associate with the person that thinks I'm mean to Pumpkin.
Add to that some issues that have become a problem since Pumpkin's ARD meeting...
The ONLY thing I really wanted to address at the meeting was what I believe to be a lack of supervision when Pumpkin is on the playground. Pumpkin has come home with bruises that no one tells me about. I've talked to the school about this in the past. I've explained that I have to be able to account for things like this. It's not that I don't think she's going to get bruises...she is. Pumpkin's ambulatory functions are very poor – she falls. But I'd just like to know when and where she's falling so that I can answer to the social workers and others that care about these things.
And there have been other issues. For example, the Thursday before Easter Pumpkin came home from school with blood all over her pants. I looked her up one side and down the other and couldn't find an injury big enough to produce the amount of blood that was on her. But still, it was very unnerving to have to deal with that. Pumpkin CANNOT tell me what happened. If any child in Pumpkin's class was bleeding, some caregiver at the school should have known!
So...I brought this up during the ARD meeting.
I got a horrible song and dance from the principal. The teacher assured me that Pumpkin is always looked after.
In an attempt to further explain why I needed better communication from the school I mentioned the time when Pumpkin got rocks in her braces. I was trying to get across to the powers that be that Pumpkin won't even tell me when she's in pain. Pumpkin spent the entire afternoon somewhat limping because of the rocks in her braces. I didn't think to check anything because Pumpkin often limps when she is fatigued...at the end of the day. I was NOT trying to tell the school they needed to check her braces for rocks. I was trying to explain why it was important for the school to communicate with me -- because Pumpkin can't.
However, the school got all bent on telling me they'd check her braces for rocks. The problem only happened one single time. But they got their panties in a wad over the rocks. The wouldn't say anything about the blood (despite the fact I brought the stained pants with me to the meeting). The rocks seemed to be the big issue. I didn't have any support with me to help me clarify things. (Not a single social worker, CASA volunteer or lawyer showed up to the meeting. Despite the fact every single one of them came a year ago. I had no reason to think they wouldn't be here this time too.) I ended up letting the subject drop because the school just didn't get what I was trying to say.
The ARD meeting was Wednesday morning. I didn't notice anything different that afternoon or on Thursday either. However, when Pumpkin got off the bus on Friday I immediately noticed that the SFO brace on her left foot had been taken off and put back on....UPSIDE DOWN!!
I nearly blew a gasket. I called the school. No one would pick up except the secretary. I waited 15 minutes and called back. They ended up connecting me to the vice-principal. I explained the problem and was told that it would not happen again. (I was blown off.) It just so happened that I also had a meeting with Rainbow, our agency worker, right when all this was happening. As soon as I got off the phone with the school, I showed Rainbow what had happened. Because the brace had been put on upside down, Pumpkin had two new bruises on her foot. She documented everything and said she would make sure CPS knew about the problem as well.
Well, things haven't gotten better. Pumpkin got off the bus yesterday and things appeared to be fine. I am not going to strip her down after school every day to do a full body examination. But, at about 4:45, I went to change Pumpkin's diaper. As I was moving her feet around I noticed the brace on her right foot didn't look quite right. This time the AFO brace on her foot had been removed and put back on. The strap holding it to her foot was so loose I could slide a finger under it.
If her braces are put on too tight, Pumpkin can get bruises. If her braces are put on too loose, Pumpkin can get bruises and/or blisters from the rubbing. I expect the professionals at the school to know how to put on and take off these kinds of braces. They are common enough in kids with special needs. I know at least one other child in Pumpkin's class wears them.
Pumpkin was lucky this time. The brace hadn't been on incorrectly long enough to cause a blister.
I'm so ticked off though. This kind of care is unacceptable. Pumpkin deserves better. But who do I complain to? And how I handle this problem tactfully? I wouldn't be surprised if the person who is doing this to Pumpkin's braces is the same person that thinks I abuse Pumpkin.
I've got a note in to Pumpkin's teacher asking her to call me today so I can talk about the brace problem. I don't trust the front office to handle things appropriately and I'm not going to be blown off again.
And as much as I want to be involved, I don't think I'm going to be a parent volunteer when Pumpkin's class goes to the zoo in a couple weeks.
What do you think though? Should I tell the teacher I'm pretty sure someone in her staff said those things about me? Or do I keep my mouth shut? I like the teacher good enough and I don't want her to think I'm not helping out the class because of anything she's done or not done. But, I don't think I can associate with the para-professional that thinks I'm an abuser.