Last week was the occasion of a meeting and several discussions about what to do about Younger Daughter and her difficult behavior. She will probably continue at Natural Friends, but we are being urged through a series of hoops, and she might have a "shadow" (a 1-on-1 aide) in the classroom next year.
If a child shows certain behaviors at school but nowhere else, who is at fault, the child or the school? We all know how schools want to answer that question. Having been through this already with Older Daughter, I am constantly asking myself, how much of this problem is being caused by the school in the first place? Is Younger Daughter acting up due to anxiety or boredom? If so, couldn't we address the anxiety or boredom directly?
I have also become enormously skeptical of what I call the "disability-industrial complex." We are surrounded by an army of specialists with their hands out. Behaviors and personality types that used to be tolerated are now labeled, diagnosed, medicated and treated. And for what? It's been great for the bank accounts of therapists, doctors, and drug companies, but can we really say it's been good for the kids?
I am wary of the language used to discuss misfit kids. I know that "we want her to make better choices" means "we want to enforce compliance" (and really, how many choices does a child actually get to make during a school day?) I know that "we wouldn't want her to feel different" is all about conformity.
If they could, schools would fill themselves with clones of the same child: the compliant, easygoing, sociable, eager-to-please good student, of slightly above-average but not threatening intelligence. But where should we send the rest of our kids?
I really loathe these meetings, where we discuss what's "wrong" with Younger Daughter and how she might be "fixed". I always come away feeling dirty, as if I've betrayed her.