Sam’s Old School

The director pounced as soon as I walked in the door. “I’m not sure what you expect us to do.” He held up some other child’s shirt, cut to ribbons.

“I’m sure you’re doing everything you can.” And I also need to get him to therapy. “I’ll be happy to pay for the shirt.” And if you didn’t have eighteen kids in that class, he’d never have been able to get that many holes sliced before somebody noticed.

“Oh, we’d never ask a parent to pay for…” Bullshit. I still have the demanding note with the receipt for the cost of replacing someone’s sleeping bag. “…but if you’re willing…”

“Just give me the bill.” And let me get my kid out of here for  a little while. I finished signing Sam out and turned towards his class.

But the director wasn’t finished. “And when Miss Henry asked him why, he said ‘because you won’t let me cut up my own shirt!’”

“Really, that sounds pretty typical.” This is why we told her point blank that Sam can’t have scissors at all. And that was before the sleeping bag incident. “You have to be extremely specific with him. He’s very good at finding loopholes.”

“It just seems like he needs… well… discipline. He’s at an age where…”

“He’s four.” My right hand was on the knob of Sam’s classroom door. I squeezed the metal and thrust my other fist in my pocket.

The director said, “You know, consistency. If a kid touches a hot stove one time, they know they’re going to get burnt, so they don’t do it again.”

“Actually, Sam had to get burned four times before he figured that out.”


I opened the door and collected his lunchbox. The child himself was out on the playground, sitting beside the teacher. “He was throwing rocks again,” she said.

“Can’t do that.” I told him. “It hurts people.”

“I hate Miss Henry.”

“Well, I like her.” No I don’t. I took Sam’s hand. “ She takes care of you so I can get work done so we can have things.”

“I want to break her head with a rock.”

“Come on, let’s get you out of here.”

The director was standing at the playground door. “Really, it’s things like that. Shouldn’t there be some sort of consequences…”

“His psychiatrist advises against feeding into attention seeking behaviors.” And I want to break your head with a rock, so really, can you blame my son?

“Well, he’s going to have to go home today and try again tomorrow.”

“I’d kind of figured that.” I held up the lunch box that I had already collected. “If we were just going to therapy, I’d have left this behind.” And what the fuck do I pay you for? You send him home more than you keep him. He considers this a reward.

The director followed us out. As we exited the building, he said, “I’m just concerned…”

“You know, you’re probably right,” I told him. “Miss Henry should be more consistent with him.” Discipline does not cure autism!

I pulled Sam across the parking lot to the car and buckled his seatbelt. When we drove away,  the director was still watching us from the door, the other child’s shirt in his half raised arm.


Note. This is all stuff I couldn’t even write while Sam still had to go to that shithole. But I’m posting it now. It fits perfectly with my Scriptic prompt…

For the Scriptic prompt exchange this week, kgwaite gave me this prompt: Beneath the surface.

I gave Tara Roberts this prompt: And I heard her song wherever I went, filling my ears, filling the night.

About jesterqueen:
Jessie Powell is the Jester Queen. She likes to tell you about her dog, her kids, her fiction, and her blog, but not necessarily in that order.


Sam’s Old School — 26 Comments

  1. I’m so glad you found a better place for Sam, Jessie. I don’t have children, and I’m not having them, so I don’t even know how to begin to comment on posts about kids. All I know from what I read about Sam is that he is a very strong kid, and that strength is going to take him good places someday, because he’s got strong parents in his corner.

    • yes – the new school is going to be awesome. Don’t worry about not knowing how to comment on the kid stuff. Just knowing you’re reading and that you care means so much.

    • I was afraid they might read it if I wrote anything – even if I just scratched it longhand I was scared it would wind up in their hands – and somehow take it out on my kid.

  2. Thanks for taking me into your life to get a glimpse of what it’s like to live with autism. Bless you and the wee one as you work through the challenges and the joys.

    • Thanks! And this one was as much a school problem as an autism issue. If they hadn’t been a bunch of worthless scumbags, I’d have been in a much better spot there.

  3. I can’t even begin to imagine how frustrating this must be. Like Andra I don’t have kids, but how agonizing to have a child with a disability like autism be misunderstood. Plus, he was FOUR. A FOUR year old with AUTISM! Don’t even get me started. I would have been PISSED! Hell, I am pissed!

    • OH yeah. Mostly, Scott had to deal with them because, even with medication, I’m a firecracker. Push the wrong button, and I’ll break all over you. And messing with my kids? Yeah. That’s a bug fucking red button.

  4. I’m so happy he isn’t going to that school anymore! it sounds terrible.
    Thanks for stopping by on my SITS day!

  5. The main reason we removed our son from public schools is that the staff was ill-equipped to deal with students with mental health issues. They thought if a child was intelligent enough, he could just ‘work it out’ himself. I’m glad Sam isn’t at that school any longer too.

    • Yep and yep. This was a private preschool. We actually had a public school aide coming in to work with him for an hour a week. He was an angel for her (of course he was – center of attention – total flirt- etc.) and a deeemon for the teacher. But beyond the early intervention program, we wouldn’t be able to get our kids they help they need. I have a blog entry coming up about Churchill, a school for kids on the spectrum, and holy wow, it’s awesome. Private? Yes. But the tuition is competitive with other private schools (there’s a post about why Montgomery’s private schools are cheap coming, too.)

  6. Wow. Sounds like a very, very good thing that you found a new place for him. Don’t these people realize we entrust our most precious wee-ones with them? Ugh… 🙁

    • I don’t think they do. Or not this group. Their bottom line was money. If your kid was within their range of normal, they’d do a lot for you. But otherwise? Hen’s teeth.

  7. I understand your frustrations so well with those educators who don’t understand the need for inclusiveness in their field and refuse to keep their knowledge current. But I understand from a different angle.

    I can’t tell you all the demoralizing, awful accusations I had aimed at me as the wife of an autistic man. The worst was the marriage counselor (the supposed professional who missed my husband’s cluster of symptoms) who told me I was demanding and hurtful just as my husband said. My week’s homework was to listen to my husband and do things the way he wanted. I was supposed to be amazed at how well that worked for our relationship. I had to shut myself down emotionally to get through that week. My husband was ecstatic with his nodding zombie wife. He thought we’d found my cure.

    I’m so glad you don’t have to deal with the idiots at that school anymore.

    • How maddening. I’m grateful to say that everyone who we have talked to doesn’t pretend that being neurotypical is a crime. (Not that I don’t come with my own sets of issues. I fear Sam may have my bipolar.) I can’t imagine how frustrating and misleading that must have been for you.

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  9. Dealing with my own children with their own specialness, I totally laughed out loud at “And I want to break your head with a rock, so really, can you blame my son?” I can’t tell you how I love that line and how much I get it.

    • I’m so glad you connected with that one. I was worried putting it in there, because the seeming threats of violence are dangerous to the speaker these days. But seriously. They were acting like a four year old was a 15 year old in so many cases. So frustrating.

      • Anyone who wants to criticize for the words you say hasn’t walked in shoes similar to yours. Eff em I say. Every day I feel like punching a wall (or a mouthy teenager). I didnt read it as a threat, it was a reaction. Those who don’t understand that aren’t people I’d “welcome” in my life anyway. I get the frustration. i’ve had to fight to get my kid on a 504 at school (that she now doesnt need! Go Jellybean!) I hate judgmental schmos.