Had an interesting conversation with our exchange student last night. It started off with some of the best GWB quotes, trailed off into education and culminating with food.
So my student from Germany is staying with us for a full academic year. He has agreed to have Andy as his roommate, which I think is pretty cool. Originally we started off as his Welcome Family, if he decided our family was a good fit for him, he could choose to stay for the full year. He chose to stay.
Last night when we touched on the subject of food, he told us that he thinks he is very lucky to have been placed in our home. He feared he would gain weight during his year abroad because he was under the impression that Americans typically eat fast-food (and that they are all obese).
He is glad that we cook. And he even enjoys what we cook! It made me feel happy that our dietary efforts are acknowledged and appreciated. Andy has yet to appreciate the effort we go through to keep him fed, in a healthy manner.
Which brings me to his latest shenanigans… This school year has started off quite poorly for Andy. He got his first referral to the principal for stealing. This is something he has had issues with since he came to live with us.
It hasn’t stopped. The lying continues. And now he is using his disability as his scapegoat. He has used the following excuses with his teacher to explain away his poor behavior and under performance:
- It’s because I have autism.
- My mom made me this way.
- Because I didn’t take my medication today.
He is doing a fantastic job of manipulating those around him. It’s been working and if he had not been caught stealing we would never have been the wiser that anything was amiss at school. See, his teacher is not as helpful with Andy as his previous teachers.
In the past, we have caught Andy lying and weaseling his way out of homework, we worked with the teachers to make sure we got an email with the assignments so he couldn’t just lie about not having homework. Joey contacted the teacher because we started noticing a ‘no homework today’ pattern. The teacher did not take Joey’s email and basically said, “He gets a weekly packet. He does one page a day, at the end of the week you review it, sign it and Andrew turns it in.”
He is in 6th grade and the homework packets are simply busy work. Not homework, not improving or teaching him new skills. It is busy work that you do on a long flight or while waiting in a doctors office. Crossword puzzles, work searches or a page to read and another to answer questions about the passage he read. None of this is preparing him for junior high or the real world.
As I see it, the teacher is more concerned with collecting a check than his pupils. My only assumption is that based off of Andy’s behavior he assumes since we don’t care, so why should he? Andy makes us look like bad parents. We aren’t. We really do try very hard to get him to get his shit together. He has made vast improvements, he really has. But we have years of damage we are trying to repair.
I feel like he is getting a better education at home during the summer months than at school. I give him school work to help bring him up to the proper academic level. I make him learn cursive, which is no longer taught in his school. I have him read to grow his vocabulary and comprehension. The child was Mowgli when he first came to live with us. He needs all the practice he can get.
I don’t want to be a step-parent anymore. I don’t want to have to be the one that helps Joey with his child. I know people keep telling us that in the long run Andy will thank us for all our efforts. But right now, I envision his future spent on the streets or behind bars. We can’t send him back to his mother because that would guarantee a shit future for him.
We are lucky Justus is with us for the year. We are lucky that he has taken to Andy. Andy is lucky. Justus is the first exchange student that has shown true interest in Andy. I am hoping that having someone closer to Andy’s age for him to look up to will rub off on Andy. Andy is still a little terror, he is a pre-teen (God save us!) but I can see tiny bits of improvements.
Last week we had a conference with the teacher Andy stole from, the principal, Joey, Andy and myself. I brought the school up to speed on the stealing, lying, manipulation techniques Andy likes to employ. Their eyes are wide open now and Andy was not happy that I was so forthcoming with the information.
As it turns out, his regular teacher had a chat with Andy’s resource teacher. It turns out Andy has not turned in a single homework packet. We are 6 weeks into school and the teacher has not once made mention that Andy has not been doing his work. When the teacher finally returned Joey’s call, he never once mentioned that Andy was not doing his homework.
I am hoping to have Andy put in a different class, with a teacher that will work with us. I hate feeling like a helicopter-psycho-soccer mom. But I we need a little help on the school side so we can make sure Andy is doing what he should be. I requested a meeting with the principal but have yet to hear back.
Joey on the other hand, has gotten an email from Andy’s resource teacher. We are to have another conference but with the slacker teacher involved this time. I plan to stand my ground and request a class move. Joey doesn’t back me up on this. He says he doesn’t want to get the teacher in trouble or make waves. I dunno, I just feel like his teacher may not be willing to put effort into helping us help himself and Andy. His resource teacher is awesome, his regular teacher… not so awesome.
I know Andy, he sees that his teacher as someone he can manipulate. Someone that doesn’t appear too interested in his lack of effort. Andy is playing it. He will get away with as much as you will let him. And thus far, this school year…. he has gotten away with quite a lot.