Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Ala Carte Line...

Has caused a bit of trouble in our family...

We sent Emma and Ellie to public school this fall.
The girls had hit a plateau in homeschooling and were not progressing past preK for Emma and K for Ellie.

Both girls have a cognitive disability (Ellie is higher functioning than her older bio sibling Emma). Both girls have IEP's and are in a special classroom. Emma has a para with her all of the time. Ellie has a little more independence because she is more cognitively aware of her surroundings.

Since Ellie was doing so well they gave her more independence and had her go to lunch with her friend, get her food, eat it with her friend and then return to class with the other students when lunchtime was over.
It was at this time... 
in October 
that she discovered the infamous
Ala Carte Line.

Ellie has food issues. 
She is often unable to control herself in regards to food and unable to make healthy decisions. 
She feels bad when she realizes what she has done but in the moment she is unable to make good decisions and needs supervision and guidance when it comes to food.

Ellie is doing so well in so many areas that sometimes it's easy to forget her limitations.
So after a full lunch she decided she was still hungry and had 2 more pieces of pizza and a cookie.
The girls that share her room at home were amazed to hear about the
Ala Carte Line!

And well, 
they ordered up some food, too.

So each day Ellie would
"take their order"
and bring home some treats!

They had chocolate chip cookies, otis spunkmeyer muffins, twix bars, popcorn, chips, sports bars, and well the list goes on...
Actually the list go on and on and on and on and on and...
uh huh, it does.
and this happened mid October through April.
Really, it did...
That means it happened October, November, December, January, okay, they took a little break in February because we were in Florida- but they were back at it for March and April.

Everyday after school the sneaky three(and sometimes innocent Emma was there) would have a feast in their bedroom, unbeknownst to me. 
(Where the heck was I?)

Until one day in April, 
I asked Ellie, "How did school go" 
and she got a very very guilty look on her face. 
She could barely answer me and didn't look at me.
I had no clue what was going on...
no clue...
In fact I even had posted on a tween FB group about my concern over our daughters poor metabolism.
One comment suggested more was going on than I was aware of. My response was - "oh no, that's not possible, I am with them all the time".

Hmmm, well anyway...
 something inside of me said "look in her backpack".
So, I did and there was one innocent looking chocolate chip cookie
and so began the questions and the detective work.

The big girls did not share the depth of the 
"ala carte line" shopping 
I was able to see the printout in late May...
Hundreds of dollars were spent on "treats" that were brought home and shared.
And even more that were consumed at school by Ellie.

 We know that this is semi normal teen behavior.
for us, the worst part was that the two at home 
where knowingly taking advantage of their sister and her disability.
They knew that Ellie was trying "to make healthy choices" and 
maintain her weight at a healthy level (with our help).
Ellie is 4'10" and is fully grown.
Her little frame cannot carry too much weight.
She is very sedentary and is only active with our constant encouragement and guidance(swim lessons, family walks, etc).

We just want her to be as healthy as possible.

So you are probably wondering how did we handle it?

We talked with each of the girls
they confessed, 
they cried,
they apologized to us and to Ellie.
Ellie apologized.
They hugged Ellie.
We hugged
and we moved on...

The girls are doing extra chores and babysitting (for me) to make up for the money they spent.

Oh ya,
the ala carte line is
closed to any of our children!


Gina said...

Thank you for sharing this story. :) I could actually see my daughter doing this. I am surprised you did not notice the big bill sooner, though. Our school is vigilant at making sure all lunch bills are paid asap!

Emily said...

Oh gracious...
Here's my question: why did no one at school question this at all??? We had a child going to the cafeteria for breakfast after getting off the bus (after having a full breakfast at home). After three breakfasts, the school called us to see if it was approved, since we never enrolled our kids for breakfast.
I'm sorry this happened. =( So frustrating. On the bright side, at least you know there's nothing wrong with Ellie's metabolism!

Shecki Grtlyblesd said...

I can't believe the school let this go so far! That they would let a special needs child rack up hundreds of dollars in junk food just seems so wrong.

Jennie said...

Too funny really - The junk food consumption is exposed. I'm sure Ellie is most appreciative as it is for her own healthy good. Great job, Mama Bear.

acceptance with joy said...

Lol. My DD daughter only got a few days into her food fest when we caught on. She was having tummy aches... And then the bills started showing up.

I'm sorry the school was not more vigilant, and that they didn't send you the bills sooner!! Wow

Laurel said...

Thanks so much for sharing this story. That is CRAZY that it could go on for so long without the school catching on and notifying you. Not your fault at all. When your kids are at school, you expect the school staff to be responsible (especially when it comes to your special needs kids).

Glad you figured it all out, and got Ellie back into a healthy eating schedule. And, glad you found some appropriate consequences for Ellie's "roommate" sisters. I can totally see things from the sisters' perspective, too. They don't go to school. They don't know that there is a price for each item brought home. They all come from orphanages, so there is very likely some food issues with them, as well.

My kids, adopted or not, would probably do the same thing for a while. If it was my adopted kids, it could easily have gone on all year. My bio. kids . . . may have felt a bit guilty after a month or two. (My kids were all homeschooled, too, so they would not have been aware that there was a price tag attached to each item. I'm sure that would not have crossed their minds.)

Crazy story . . . but I can see that you just took it in stride. Thanks for sharing!

~Monica Utt~ Itty Bitty Land said...

Ala Carte! Ahh, I'm a grown-up and it sounds great to me! lol Kids just don't think through all the consequences. I am sure that the cost never crossed their minds. Probably knew it was wrong, since they knew to hide what they were doing, but the temptation... Let's face it, go out anywhere and look at all the overweight adults that know eating that extra portion or that junk food is not the healthy choice to make, and still eat it anyway! I can so see my bio kids not thinking through the consequences and doing this too!

I am not one of those that always think their child is right and the teacher/school is wrong, however in this case I agree with the others that the school should have caught on to this right away. You are not there and when they are in the care of the school, the school has an obligation to be monitoring them, especially for a special needs child! I am sure they do accounting regularly and this bill should have stood out! Why did they not notify you!!! I think they should have to pay the bill!

You're doing a fantastic job of teaching them consequences. Mine were never exposed to the opportunity to get into trouble to learn those lessons young and my dear son got so excited when he discovered that he was old enough to buy fireworks that he came home with a box of $120 worth! He didn't think through the consequences and didn't have enough money to pay his car payment! (One of the dangers on online banking. His car insurance check hadn't cleared yet and based on the balance he saw, he thought he had enough for the fireworks and car payment.) At least yours are learning young!

happymama said...

A similar thing happened to one of my daughters who has Down Syndrome. I always pack her a healthy lunch, and she is always hungry so she eats every morsel. I noticed that she was beginning to put on a little weight, but didn't think too much of it since kids with DS gain weight very easily, and she was in a growth time since she had recently been adopted. Then one day she came home with her fully packed lunch still intact. I immediately asked the teacher to have someone observe her lunch table. Sure enough, the other kids were giving her anything off their trays that they didn't want to eat! Some were even getting extra items on their trays to give her a special "treat!" No wonder she was gaining weight! The other kids (4th graders) had no idea they were doing something wrong. They liked her and thought they were being really nice to her and making her happy. Oh, was she happy alright. Lol! She was in heaven! Needless to say, the teacher explained to the girls why this was not healthy for my daughter, and the treat train derailed much to my daughter's disappointment.

K said...

Wow! So much for supervision in school.

I'm glad you're aware of things now. My kids have done similar things that took me awhile to catch on to. They are really good at hiding things. I just found more of their hiding places and now do thorough searches regularly and don't hide that I do. I am also now searching my kids since the latest hiding spot was in their shoes.

Chris said...

The only problem with a 4'10" girl putting on weight, is how incredibly hard it is to take it back off.
My oldest with cognitive issues also has a super slow metabolism, moves like a snail, and LOVES to eat, but puts weight on very fast, and it shows up right away on her tiny frame too. Explaining good eating habits/choices to a girl who only sees her farmer brother eating EVERYTHING because he needs all the calories and energy is extremely challenging, and often causes her to have some large emotional issues-our parenting of these guys will never be easy-we will always have to be in "vigilant" mode!!!

Wendy said...

I appreciate you sharing this story. It helps me to know I am not the only one experiencing some of these issues. Prayers to you and your family.