We continued to have the worst luck with teachers in public school. Daniel always ended up in the classroom with overwhelmed, tried teachers. He was considered difficult. This is also when he became tagged with the common AS term “little professor”. It definitely fit Daniel, as he read much and retained anything of interest and freely shared his wealth of information.
In the fourth grade, Daniel asked to be moved closer to the chalkboard and his teacher refused. When he told us about her refusal, we unearthed the need for glasses. His eyesight wasn’t a little off; he was very much nearsighted and had probably needed glasses for years. This could have explained his physical awkwardness in earlier years, and the lack of eye hand coordination that teachers often complained about. Somehow with all those screenings in school and trips to doctors, his eyesight problems were missed. Despite asking the school to keep milk off his lunch menu, I would frequently get calls from the school in the afternoon complaining that Daniel was not able to exercise self-control. I would remind them that milk attributed to his problems, but they steadfastly insisted that milk was good for him. I started making regular trips to the school lunch to check in on things.
Daniel’s brother was a people person. Being a little guy, he instinctively befriended the big boys in class as a form of protection. Everyone liked little brother, and included Daniel because of his brother’s social acumen. All the way through post-college life, little brother has kept Daniel connected socially.
In the fifth grade, Daniel’s classroom was in portables – two classes with a restroom and windowless hallway in between. After multiple trips to the school for conferences with Daniel’s frustrated teacher. I found out that he was spending hours sitting in that windowless hallway in timeouts. It’s the first time that I ever wanted to commit assault on another human being. It seems that she didn’t like to be questioned, and Daniel always had questions.
For almost a year during this time, Daniel had been coming to me telling of nightmares involving (his words) “poop and pee”. I didn’t understand, so I would reassure him and return him to bed. One night after another such nightmare a very frightening thought came to me. I asked Daniel if someone had touched him in his private parts. It was then that we found out that Daniel had been exposed to sexual play by an older child. Part of him evidently suspected that it was not right, because it took him two years to finally talk about it through his coded nightmares. Also, He didn’t want the other child to get into trouble. Now his little brother’s complaints about Daniel’s inappropriate behaviors started to make more sense. I never learned the whole story, but Daniel saw a young male therapist that helped him to work through his feelings.
There have been many times in Daniel’s life where I have felt as though I have failed him, failed to protect him, failed to prepare him. This was one of the worst.