A few years ago I wrote a post titled, “Back to School: How the 504 Is Keeping Your Kid From Adulting.”
In case you don’t know what the 504 is, it's part of a civil rights law that prevents discrimination based on a disability.
In layman’s terms, it’s a list of accommodations that level the playing field for students with disabilities or health issues that put them at risk of not having the same opportunities at learning as all the other students.
I knew it was a provocative title I’d chosen for my post. That was the point. I wanted it to catch your attention so you’d read it.
It worked. It got lots of comments.
Some of them angry that I’d said they were holding their child back by having a 504 in place.
But if those commenters had actually read the post beyond its title, they’d have seen that it was more of a cautionary article than a judgy article.
Y’all know that I don’t judge.
In fact, at the time I wrote that post, I was actually toying with whether to put a 504 into place for our youngest, based on his ADHD diagnosis, which is why the whole topic was on my mind.
We did end up drawing one up for him later that year, mainly for the purpose of accommodating him during our state’s standardized testing by allowing him to have a timer on his desk to count down how much time’s left, more time on the test, stuff like that.
One of the points I mentioned in my original post was that I didn’t want my child to use the 504 as a crutch to get by with doing less, because that doesn’t do him any favors in the whole scope of life.
Besides, if anyone's going to take advantage of things being made easier, it's my child.
I know how my kid operates.
You’ve seen this picture of his feet sticking out from under the covers so that I can pull his socks on for him, right?
Just like anybody, he wants to get by with doing as little as possible. (Keep it to yourself if you or your kids aren’t like this, you show off, you.)
My child wants to slide through life by doing the least amount of work possible so he can hurry back and watch YouTube videos of shrill-voiced 20-somethings playing video games.
That’s why I bring this concern up when we have our annual 504 meeting: the teachers are given strict instruction by Mark and me to implement the accommodations only if he truly needs them.
I don’t want him getting extra time on all his assignments - he doesn’t need that. He only needs extra time on certain ones (writing. Ugh.)
I don’t want him getting written instructions of every assignment given. He has to learn to listen.
I don’t want them going easy on him.
It’s hard because he’s a good kid. He’s a people pleaser and can’t bear to disappoint his teachers or parents or friends.
It’s hard to not go easy on him when he’s just so damn happy and go-with-the-flow.
But - like I mentioned in the first article I wrote on the topic - there are no accommodations in “the real world.”
His future employer isn’t going to care if he’s a good guy.
They’re going to expect him to be a productive part of whatever it is they’ve got going on.
Teaching middle schoolers whose parents went easy on them since they were little taught me what not to do as a mom. What I don’t want my kids to be like.
I’ll keep you updated on my progress of keeping my kids from turning out to be non-productive a-holes. Till then, tell me your thoughts on this down in the comments!
PS - To be fair on the sock thing, our house was really cold and I didn’t want his tootsies to freeze when he stepped out of bed that morning*.
*I said “that morning” as if it were only that one time, but that’s not true. To help coax my child out of bed, I bring his socks to him, and with his eyes still closed, he rustles his feet around the covers until he finds an opening, then sticks his feet through so that I can put his socks on them. I should stop doing this because he’s 10, now, and because I know I'm sending mixed messages, with the whole "I don't want people going easy on him" and all, and because Mark rolls his eyes and says I'm babying him, but I can’t stop because good sweet Lord, I’m not a freaking monster.