Humor is also a way of saying something serious. - T. S. Eliot

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Naughty and Nice

It was never a problem for the girls to have their preschool friends over.  Not only were the kids well-mannered, sweet kids, their parents were nice, too -- easy to set up play dates with, nice to talk to, etc. 

And so when I told the girls they could each invite a couple friends over for a cookie decorating party we had last week, I didn't anticipate having any issues with the kids or their parents.  In fact, I thought it would be fun.  While all the kids are in kindergarten, all the kids invited were six-years-old so I expected just that much more maturity and appropriate behavior.  And sadly, I expected mature parents....

I have a pretty high tolerance level when it comes to dealing with small children and their antics, but after two hours with the children we invited into our home I had decided a few things...

1. Damn. Those kids were naughty.
2. The twins are not having a birthday party next summer.
3. Maybe I'm not as child tolerant as I thought.
4. No WONDER Sophia (formerly little miss popularity) doesn't like going to school and doesn't have any friends. 
5. The children's parents need a parent coach...or something.

These children:
1.  Opened Christmas gifts under our tree.
2.  Did not listen to and follow directions.
3. Had little respect for boundaries (which I don't have many, let's be honest).
4. Spit at Mocha (the 16 yr old dog) and cursed her. Multiple times and vengefully -- holy crap you budding little socio-path!
5. Engaged in manipulative behavior when they wanted to do things they knew were no-no's.

I was feeling badly for Sophia.  At school conferences things came full circle as I mended my negative feelings towards Ella's teacher and returned to my first opinion of Sophia's teacher, which is, she sucks.

For weeks I have wanted to write about my experience at the girls conferences but I get so angry and upset that I shut down or write a blog so laced with anger I fear publishing it for people may think I'm crazier than they originally thought.  Though I know I'm not alone in my thoughts, I do wonder if I am in the minority. 

Sophia's teacher and I butted heads about achievement-oriented testing, testing, and re-testing of Sophia.  I said I didn't care to worry about whether my 5 yr old could read b/c she's....FIVE...and then further pressed on that the thing to be concerned about is socialization as well as too much academic pressure on a child who is clearly pushing back. 

This (sorry gramma but I'm really mad here) damn effing school system is so achievement oriented (as are many these days hence the development of a film It's like the only goddamn thing that matters is math and science.  Be damned a child's emotional development. Be damned a child's creative expression. All that mother-effing matters is whether our children score high on some stupid standardized tests.  And let's not even get me started on what I think about standardized tests.  

Now our school curriculum may be fine for kids who are ready -- like Ella -- but Sophia isn't there. 

And it is royally pissing me off to send my once happy child who enjoyed school thoroughly at ages 3 and 4 when there was balance to the curriculum, to now see her become more anxious, unhappy, moody, and lose confidence in herself in a curriculum that is NOT balanced.

So desperate and panicked did I become that I looked into putting her into a Christian Academy or the private catholic school down the street -- which Dave abruptly put a halt to. 

I talked to a friend and colleague who started out as an elementary ed teacher, but then went back to grad school to become a psychologist.  The main reason...she doesn't believe in how hard our children are pushed these days and she wanted no part of it.  I spoke to a couple teachers about the issue.  Both indicated retiring early because they didn't want to play the game. 

I talked to another teacher who was in my zumba class and she told me, "Well, it's only November.  Sophia should be adjusted now. You need to have a talk with her about getting serious about learning and reading."  Are you serious?!  Really?  She's FIVE! It's not like she's 15 and refusing to study because she wants to spend all her time texting and giggling about boys!

Uncomfortably, I am holding for now.  Holding my anxiety and irritation close so that Sophia doesn't pick up on it and committed to supporting her through this difficult situation and hoping that she'll come out of kindergarten with resilience -- not really what I thought I'd have to help her develop during her kindergarten experience, but certainly a good thing to have in life, and after all, everything we need to know we learn in kindergarten.  And this year she learns that sometimes you get put in a broken sucky system, but you can still come out okay.  To hell with reading. She'll get it when she's ready. 

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