Picture this (feeling a little Golden Girls at the moment): it’s late May last year, at a 504 meeting for a kiddo transitioning to middle school. In the room are the school nurse, the vice principal, the parents, the kid, his advisory teacher, and some other people whose names and titles I can’t remember at the moment. In the first of two meetings for TealKid, we covered a lot of ground. 12 months later, I am left with many questions.
This was the first year TealKid went with us to the meeting. I’ve mentioned before that we are in the process of transitioning management , and his being at the meeting was part of that. My hope is that by high school, I can be the bystander at these meetings. Before the meeting, we reviewed his elementary school plan. He was amused at some of the things we had asked for, and we found out that several items hadn’t been done “for a long time.” That was not what this Mom wanted to hear, but he obviously managed those situations fine. He walked through it with me, and we kicked out some of the items that he felt were no longer needed. Of the things we kept, we talked about “is this a need now?” and arrived at a much shorter plan.
We walked into that meeting feeling pretty good about things. I know you’re waiting for it, but nope, we didn’t have some big blow-up. They were agreeable to what we dropped, explained procedures to cover other things, and we walked out with a general working plan. For some reason, we needed to have a second meeting, and this time we had some new players.
Because of a friend’s intel (her kiddo was a few years ahead), she made mention of a few things she thought I may need to address with the team. At the second meeting, one of my questions was “How far in advance will I be made aware of food being in the classrooms?” The new Vice Principal was very proud and said “Oh no. We do not do food in middle school. That is not an issue with these kids at this point.” As I’m sure you can imagine, my heart leapt, and my mind settled. Perhaps with this new sheriff in town, this was how things were going to be run.
TealKid was enjoying and working though his transition into middle school pretty well. His grades were great. His social life was good. He sat with his grade school friends and was making new ones as well. Everything seemed to be going pretty well!
We went in for conferences and one of the first teachers we met with asked about candy in the classroom. “Since he can’t have candy, what can I give him as a prize when we have XYZ happen?” Okay, one teacher in one class. He agreed with the teacher that a homework pass would be acceptable in lieu of candy (which I think is the better end of that stick). Okay, he was cool with the outcome, all good.
A few weeks later on social media, I saw the kids building with marshmallows and pasta. I thought to myself “I’m sure no one thought that could be an issue–but they should have.” There are several reasons I don’t like seeing food used like this (far beyond allergies and celiac; but that’s another issue for another day). I asked him about it. He told me he participated and washed up after. I explained that was good, but he really shouldn’t have been touching it at all, especially not having read the labels. I’m sure it wasn’t gluten-free pasta, and many pastas contain egg, which is an allergen for him. We discussed why that wasn’t a great choice, using it as a teachable moment, but I was annoyed.
Another day he came home from school with bubble wrap. “Why do you have bubble wrap?” Apparently, another teacher gives it to him as a prize instead of her usual candy. He’s thrilled with it, but again, for food not being an issue in middle school, it seems to be coming up an awful lot.
Next was the nurse calling. They will be handing out black bean brownies in health class. Then it was candy grams. Then the school fundraisers (all food), and dances, and on and on and on. He’s taking it all in stride, and I absolutely love that about this kid. We will mention all of these events at the 504 plan review.
But tonight… tonight I am sad and angry and really annoyed as all get-out. Over the last month, they’ve had a competition for band. I’m not even sure how it works, but it’s basically a ploy to get them to practice more (and it’s working well, I’ve never seen his instrument come home mid-week like I have over this past month!) It’s a team thing, so he and the other trombone players are going head-to-head with another team. I asked him “What’s the prize? Bragging rights?”
“A donut party.”
He’s worked really hard at this, and while his personal growth and better playing is a reward, that isn’t donut party. With all the donuts you can eat.
It’s one more thing he’ll take in stride. If there’s even a little resentment, he’ll tuck it down. He’ll take his bubble wrap, or homework pass, or big bag of nothing, and move on his way.
When that happens, I can try and make it up to him, but it will never be a free-for-all donut party, and that makes me sad as a Mom.
UPDATE: They DID win! I contacted the band teacher on Saturday and asked if they won, what the deal was. He let me know that they would have the donut party on Thursday, if I could get safe ones by then and if he was okay being in the room with his allergens. I dashed off to Facebook to try and contact a safe bakery we’ve used before. Thank goodness that Izzi B’s was able to come through for this allergy Mom. I am BEYOND thankful for them helping me get the donuts here in time to celebrate the big win.