when I started this blog five years ago, I was a pet sitter and the name animal-crackers made sense. now I'm a stay-at-home-dad and freelance writer, but rather than confuse everyone by getting a different blog, it's just easier to keep posting things here.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


We're taking Josh out of preschool. For the past 10 weeks he's attended a daycare that scores high and seems popular. But we've never been impressed. Neither the director nor Josh's teacher showed any interest in him. Communication was nonexistent, even after I talked to them about it.

But Josh seemed to like it. Until about four weeks ago. Apparently he quickly became the demonchild of the institution -- although the director didn't say anything to us until two weeks ago.

He didn't do what he was told, and worse he argued with them. One time, he kicked playground gravel at the teacher. Also, the director said, Josh was exhibiting symptoms of ADHD. She didn't say ADHD -- she's probably not allowed to. But that's what she meant.

To top it off, during this time Josh was acting out at soccer. After several incidents we pulled him from the team. Too much stress for everyone involved.

(Ok this is weird. Just as I typed that last line, Josh said out of the blue "I'm sad about soccer." Totally out of the blue. Weird.)

(Oh, and by the way I was being sarcastic about the arguing. Of course he argues. His parents got the belt, back hand and/or wooden spoon many times for arguing with their parents. It's genetic.)

Back to Josh. We tried working with the school, but they clearly have no interest. They feign interest, but not very well. I don't care how critically acclaimed this school is. It sucks. Not because they don't like our child, but because they show no interest in him. They want to label and dismiss him because they're not good enough teachers to help him.

After much worrying, Andrea and I agree -- Josh is not ADHD. He's not a perfectly behaved child by any means. But he focuses too well to be ADHD. He builds complex Lego structures. He pays attention when we read books or tell stories. He often plays with a specific toy for up to an hour.

No, part of the problem is Josh has not been institutionalized. Although he has attended a Mother's Morning Out program and five weeks of summer camp -- this was his first daycare. Most -- if not all -- of the other kids have been in daycare since they were six weeks old. They know how the system works. They know the unwritten rules of daycare behavior. And they know to game their teachers.

Josh hasn't learned these things yet. He doesn't know where the boundaries are -- and the teachers have no interest in explaining them because they're used to dealing with institutionalized kids.

It's sad to think Josh will be institutionalized -- as we all have been. I just hope he doesn't lose himself -- as many of us have.
posted by todd at 11:27 AM


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