126. Exeunt


I have been so livid this past week, I must be glowing.

My fellow special needs parents know how people in positions of authority over our kids can sometimes take a strong dislike to their personalities, or ways of expressing themselves. And since our kids are relatively unable to step back from the dynamic and alter themselves to be “more acceptable,” plus their behaviors can sometimes worsen when they become afraid or perceive that they are disliked, things can spiral to the point of no return more often than not.

Sigh. So that’s what happened with both my kids at a very cherished activity outside of school.

I want to say two things to the people who teach or mentor special needs kids, and who are feeling burned out enough that they have started taking these things personally:

1. We appreciate your work. And we know that our kids’ issues can often trigger your own fatigue, anxiety, rage, and a sense that you are failing at your job. We feel all those things too, and we live with our kids, so we experience them very often.

Please know that if you react from these negative emotions, our kids will too. They don’t know how to be more noble than you, and they feel a sense of defeat and uselessness when they cannot find ways to earn your respect. They also notice when you give more praise and attention to other kids, while reserving cold glances and harshly delivered curt instructions for them. Then they have to spend a whole semester or a whole year knowing that they won’t get picked for anything special or fun because the teacher doesn’t want to deal with them.

It is beyond difficult for our kids to participate in the affairs of the larger world. If you raise your voice, or touch them without warning or kindness, you are often triggering their sensory dysfunction. Getting angry with them for shutting down or acting out is sort of punishing them for a condition they cannot change, and also, you created the stress, so your rage is really just an abusive “see what you made me do,” isn’t it?

All that said, we know how challenging it is to teach kids like ours. We work hard at it from our end, and we are sorry when it doesn’t go well. Which brings me to

2. When things don’t go well, it is usually our kids who have to leave. Not the kids whose bullying of them goes unchecked. And not you, who will probably never admit you dropped the rope.

So we are bidding adieu to yet another place that we thought would work for our family. We cannot, for the sake of abstract justice, allow our kids to stay in an environment that is actively detrimental to their mental wellbeing.

We don’t know if you will learn anything valuable from all this. But we have. We have learned to always believe our kids when they react to a toxic person. You are not the first, and you won’t be the last. Some things are worth fighting for, but your continued presence in our lives is definitely not one of them. There are other mentors. God willing, we will find better ones.

Each time someone like you crosses our path, it takes so much to trust in other people. The damage you have done is inexcusable.

The next time I hear an educator talk about how useless parents can be, I will not be staying quiet and pretending to agree. We are the ones who do not ever get to drop the rope. We pick up every psychological piece other people broke. And we keep searching for those environments where our kids won’t be the charity cases; the problem cases; the basket cases; the mental cases. They deserve more from you than the toxic fumes you reserve for people you consider irredeemable.


9 thoughts on “126. Exeunt

  1. Dear Ofelia, I wanted to be sure to tell you how much I appreciate you commenting in detail. Leaving a school must have been so much more traumatic than just an extra curricular activity. I’m sorry you all had to go through that. But you are absolutely right, there are always those cherished, precious people who come along and make a difference. And they are the ones who love our kids exactly for who they are. Thank you for sharing your story and perspective and optimism. I look forward to us meeting up one of these days!


  2. I have no idea how you must feel, but as a parent myself (but mine are all adults) I remember how it saddened and angered me when my children were treated as “less than” in any way. I hope your blog is widely read and gives people a bit more insight, and hopefully compassion as well.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Carol. I am always trying to remind myself that kids like mine are not everyone’s cup of tea, but even saying that in my head sounds so unjust and gut wrenching. They still deserve to get out and learn things and play and be in a community without having to beg for acceptance and without us having to negotiate their right to be there on an ongoing basis. Special needs parenting is a journey for sure. So much love and insight and HUGE FEELS.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No need to thank me my dear – I see “special needs” children at the library where I work on an almost daily basis. I think ALL children should be accepted. Unfortunately there is a lot of educating yet to be done and some people are just mean – unhappy within themselves they leak toxic energy everywhere they go, and that’s on them not you and certainly not your child. Wishing you many blessings, always. Keep on speaking up, for your own sake, but also to inform others.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello Rahda, I’m so very sorry for what you your family are enduring. It’s never pleasant being the ones with the “troubled” child. We sadly had to leave a school our children attended for five years because of a similar toxic situation. In was crushing for the whole family because we loved the community of students and families, we had invested so much time in creating awareness and even training staff and most of all because our children loved their school. But even the most trained teacher can become an issue for our children and that’s when we must make a decision: stay and continue to entire the toxicity or persavere elsewhere. The latter can be scary and yes we are left wounded and scared, but we have to have faith in humanity and in what I call the treasure hunters. These are the seekers of light in our children where others, even parents, see only darkness or abyss. They find these little tiny windows of opportunity and work with our children to open that window a bit more each time. And these people do exist, some are incredible professionals and others are simple helpers. But you have to have faith you will soon find one, because you are one. I pray you find your next treasure hunter very soon and may this experience, like every other, be a lesson for us all. No one is perfect, we are all perfectly imperfect. And even the worst situation can bring the best outcome. Thank you for sharing your pain in such a beautiful and powerful way. Good luck to you all!

    Liked by 2 people

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