Disclaimer: I am going to leave out some details as people from Zoe's school might read this some day and I'd like to protect the innocent.
My mom is a PhD Licensed School Psychologist. (Handy person to have around in times like this with the Zoe situation!) Wednesday, Zoe was called into the Principal's office. (Not "sent" there.) Zoe said she was not in trouble, they just talked. I wasn't sure what to make of this so I called Mom.
She gave me all kinds of good advice. The best one was for me to go into the meeting very calmly and just listen. (Thankfully that was my plan.) I asked people to pray for me to have PEACE ... as I was feeling very unsettled and wanted to make sure peace would prevail.
I walked up to the school to get the kids and Kaley (11) ran to me telling me she had seen a moment between the teacher and Zoe today. Apparently, the teacher was YELLING and Zoe was crying/angry/scared. Kaley was told to leave it alone so she did. But she even overheard some of Zoe's friends saying, "Poor Zoe" and other things. So I knew it had been a bad day.
Meeting starts. It's just the teacher (I'll abbreviate it T) and the Guidance Counselor (GC) and me. T asked how I handle Zoe's outbursts at home and I said she doesn't have any. Then I asked her to describe these outbursts. And she described today's outburst. Zoe apparently refused to come when T called, tore papers (her own), tossed over some chairs, wouldn't stop screaming/crying and so forth. Eventually she was saying things like "I am a bad girl" and other similar things. Finally, T said that Zoe put herself in the trash can and said that's what she was, trash.
At this point in the meeting, GC got up, wiped a tear, got a tissue box and put it in front of us and we both shed a few tears. T was just matter of factly telling the story. Eventually, she cleaned Zoe up and Zoe cleaned up the classroom. Somewhere in the middle of all that, she was sent to the GC who calmed her down.
The whole meeting, I felt a peace in my spirit that all I had to do was listen. I could make decisions about what to do later.
T and GC were working out ways they could help her once she got frustrated/angry ... and I asked the question, "I'd like to know what is going on to trigger her anger in the first place?"
Eventually they asked if Zoe shares things with me about how school is going and what that was. I told them Zoe's perspective is that T yells a lot and it scares her. Zoe thinks T is mad at her a lot. That the teacher thinks Zoe is a bad kid.
I got to describe a few new "odd" behaviors ... such as yesterday, she came home insisting on being called, "Kiera" (the "Perfect" kid in the class according to Zoe, the one who is praised all the time for doing everything right). This made the GC's eyebrow raise.
I know from the few things I shared that T knew Zoe shares a LOT with me.
I then asked her to share her side of the story of a couple of incidents since I only have Zoe's point of view. She shared her perspective and I told her Zoe's. Like one is where a little girl said Zoe kicked her on the slide. The rest of the story? Zoe was going on, tried to stop and couldn't. The little girl was climbing UP the slide. But T never asked HOW she was kicked or asked Zoe's side of the story, she just punished her. There are numerous incidents like this. Zoe does NOT speak up for herself.
GC asked what forms of punishment she uses and T said only timeout. (Which I know is not correct.) I said, "Zoe said you asked her to run laps." And she changed her story.
Anyway ... eventually, T came back to today's story about Zoe putting herself in the trash can and covering herself in the trash. T said that she then put HERSELF in trash and said something about everyone making mistakes, feeling like trash, that even she feels like trash, etc.
At this point, I knew it was prayers keeping me from screaming! What the heck??? What kind of lesson is that??
The meeting was very, very telling about this teacher, her heart and her view of Zoe. It's more than clear that this is not the right placement for Zoe. I know that's not what the T and GC came away from the meeting with, but it's what I heard loudly and clearly!
I got home and called Mom again. From her perspective, she is worried about the same 2 things I'm worried about. 1) Something triggered Zoe's intense anger and we can't guarantee this won't happen again. We need to protect her and the others around her. And somehow this teacher seems to intensify, escalate it, not de-escalate it. So that's a bad placement. 2) Zoe's self esteem has been horribly damaged and we are going to have to do some major work to help her heal. Mom's recommendation is that Zoe and this teacher are NEVER left alone again.
I sat Zoe in my lap and told her I had two things to tell her. 1) She is never allowed to act out like that again, that we are going to help her with her anger and help her see it coming before it gets too bad. 2) That I was horribly sorry I let her down. I had no clue it was this bad and I asked for her forgiveness. I assured her I'd find a way to fix it.
I know I will need some time to sort out our options. So I called the GC tonight and said that Zoe will be taking a "mental health day" tomorrow. Some time just to calm down, etc. That gives us the weekend to decide what to do for her. And if we haven't decided by Monday, we will keep her out. She is NOT going back to that classroom. That is NOT an option.
We thought we had a handle on all of this and all was good. I told Zoe she was going to stay with me tomorrow and we'd have a fun day. She was like, "Yeeeesssss!"
Then at bedtime, Dan was tucking her in and she said she wanted to go to school tomorrow. He told her what we decided and why. She got very very upset Dan said.
What the heck is THAT all about? I wasn't there so I don't know. But Dan's take on it is that there is some kind of weird "addiction for approval" with her. I know I've seen the teacher do a Push/Pull emotionally with Zoe. Maybe she wants to make her like her. Need for her approval? Who knows?
Man, this has gotten so out of whack!
As I type this, I have no clue how to help her in either issue. I know we have to decide what to do about her school placement and I know we have TONS of options. But more importantly, I'm very concerned what to do about her mental state.
Calgon ... take me away!