So today was the day we had to meet with the director of Griffin's school (who is also his teacher), a government official, the school doctor, the assistant in the classroom and the partridge in the pear tree. Schools are managed by 2 structures - the teaching staff which is governed by the French government concerning curriculum etc... and the municipal government that provides things like paper, pens, resources and non-teaching staff (assistants in the class, lunchroom aides etc...). All teams have to be represented. We wanted Olivier to come along as well to help translate - but they wouldn't let him in the room. (Only family allowed - besides the 5 other people there, of course...). This is frustrating b/c Olivier is good at speaking in a non-offensive way to people - where we are challenged due to not only language barriers, but cultural differences.
For those of you who haven't been following - this is all because Griffin is NOT potty trained and, despite our best efforts, continues to mess in his pants - often poop during school hours. This meeting was to discuss what to do about this situation.
A bit of background on Griffin and poop. As many of you know, the guy has been having GI problems since he was weaned and was put through a battery of tests over the past 2 years because of this. Nothing serious was discovered, and, through our own efforts, we finally discovered putting him on a gluten free diet stopped his pain and cut his poops down from 5-10 per day to 2-3 per day. Doctors in the US agreed that we should just keep him gluten free and hope that he outgrows it in a few years since we have ruled out all serious ailments. We are fine with this decision as the idea of putting him through more medical intervention is detestable and not neccessary. However, this means he still poops far more than the average guy - and it is still always incredibly stinky diaharrhea type poop (very fun to clean out of underwear several times per day as I have been doing for several weeks) and sometimes he accidentally gets some wheat and he ends up in pain for days and pooping even more. Anyhow, we are pretty certain he can't predict when he is going to poop, as he only made poop in the potty 1x (seemingly by lucky chance) in the several weeks we've been potty training - although the pee has been steadily making it into the pot more often. At least, it makes it when he is at home- he absolutely WILL NOT pee anywhere else - whether he is with me or at school.
So, back to the meeting...
We are basically expecting them to try to kick him out and are pleasantly surprised when they agree to give him the PAI (don't remember what this stands for - some french thing that means you have a medical excuse) and allow him to wear pull-ups to school. Also, since he seems to poop in the first hour he's at school, they are requiring me to come to school at 9:30 with him instead of 8:30 (to hopefully avoid the poop issue in the school building (I guess I get to be the lucky winner (have you ever seen this many nested parenthetical phrases in print (i love parentheses)))))))))). Also, I have to take him to the potty at school before I leave - to give it a last chance to come out.
This all seems OK and fairly reasonable (although - selfish whine here - it means I have my only break severely curtailed) and we agree to the conditions set forth. We all agree he is steadily doing better in school. He is no longer crying when he is there, participates in class more often, and does not whine about the prospect of school each day. We don't want to stop this progress. The group even talks about finding a bilingual psychologist to help him to overcome his fear of going anywhere but outside home.
I, however, have a concern. Griffin does not want to go to school - he would much rather be with me, (who wouldn't?) and I personally think a big part of the reason he won't even sit on the potty at school is that he knows that once he pees at school there will be no reason for them to kick him out. A few weeks earlier they asked if I would come into school during potty times to help him out and I said NO - b/c that would be a gift for him - he would never be motivated to pee if he knew once he did it I would stop visiting.
So, I have the same concern about having him start school at a later time. What do I say to him about why he is not starting at the same time as Callie? If I say, it's b/c you don't go poop on the potty - he will be elated - and never do it! My fear is that this is a path that will never be reversed and our ultimate goal should be to get him as a full part of the community - not be taking him away from it.
So, I ask for advice on this sticky conundrum. This is where translation and language and cultural barriers get really tricky....
First off - they are pissed at the question. This is part of the problem, you don't support this plan, they say. The doctor just says we should tell him, that since he is not pooping on the potty he is not allowed to go to school. Duh!
Well, I try again to explain - he will be elated at this news and NEVER change his ways - if he ever gains any control - he will use it to poop at 10:30 instead of 9ish so he will be kept out longer and (hopefully) eventually be allowed to skip school altogether. Don't you see how his 3-year old mind is working??
Well, they say -you should just tell him he is not a big boy, only babies poop in their pants and
he is not a big boy and only big boys get to go to school etc... etc...
First off, I have said this type of thing to him - almost every day in fact. This is not effective - Griffin knows he is a big boy - just one that poops in his pants. One thing to know about about both of my boys (and my man as well) is that they are internally motivated - once they make a decision peer pressure can't dissuade them. He IS big - an no one is gonna convince him otherwise.
They are not thrilled with this explanation. He is the kid - you are the parent - he says he IS big - you say NO - you aren't. You are in charge - not him. (stupid american) Listen, people, you are damn lucky we are even considering keeping him in school, he is such a pain in the ass. (At this comment, my wonderful husband aka translator thanks them profusely for all their time and help with all this and explains how we really appreciate all the work they are doing on our behalf b/c - of course - it sucks to be them - they have to deal with this stubborn, stinky, American kid who wants his mommy - it is clear they would much rather just chuck him back out - but they are just bending over backwards etc... etc...) After the grovel, they reiterate that we just need to tell him he is NOT big, and that he won't be big until he poops and pees on the potty.
Hmm... I am thinking - great, of course, we could turn up the pressure on this "you are not big" method. Get Callie and Zander in on it - possibly even his classmates. Perhaps we could find a fun name....oooh - I know! We'll call him Stinky Baby every time he has an accident and get them to do the same - let's just humiliate him as frequently as possible. It would kind of be fun - I mean, your whole life whenever you start to tease someone some grown up (or later, your conscience) comes along to tell you that it is just not nice and stop doing that. It would be a license to tease... I wonder why people have discouraged me all these years. Maybe if we are just as emotionally cruel as possible to our children - their behavior will improve . Perhaps this will be the way Griffins longstanding GI problem will miraculously reverse itself.
Needless to say this conversation is going nowhere and I decide I will have to figure this out on my own (any american ideas out there???). We sign the paper detailing what everyone has agreed to (this deal will carry to the winter holiday break, at which time we reevaluate) and the director makes three copies of it, handing one to the doctor and one to the government official. I reach for the other one and they are all very surprised. I want this?
I don't get these French folk - I mean - who wouldn't want the piece of paper that is the contract for your child's school life over the next 2 months? What is the thinking of French parents? After much hemming and hawing they hand it over.
What, you may ask, are our lovely children doing during this time? Well, at the start of the meeting they were in school but when it let out we asked Olivier to go pick up Zander (no - you can't translate for us - but can you be our taxi? Olivier's answer (of course) "It is not a problem") He did, however have a noon meeting so a school aide was watching the kids whilst we discussed how to deal with Mr.G.
We come out of the meeting and I notice Callie is eating something. Upon closer inspection we realize it is a piece of bread. The ever so nice aide thought the children might be hungry and fed them each (all 3) a piece of lovely, wheat laden, baguette.
Clearly the staff has not been informed that Griffin can't have wheat - they seem to have no understanding at all of what he can and can not eat - I found out today they have been withholding juice. That's great - withhold juice and feed him slices of baguettes.
They are apologetic and seemingly concerned about the screw up. Most concern they've shown so far for his issues - since, I think, it's the first time they can't just blame me for the problems he is having.
Anyway - until tomorrow....
This afternoon Griffin has been in pain and pooped 3x so far. A sleepless and painfilled night is probably ahead for him - and consequently - for me as well!