Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Just another manic Monday

I was all prepared to write a post about how after my yucky Tuesday they kids were perfectly pleasant on Wednesday morning, pretty good at the art museum we went to after school and did their homework with a minimum of complaints! And the rest of the week followed suit....until Monday.

I received a phone call Monday afternoon from Grant's PE teacher. He had found a piece of glass on the playground and stabbed a girl. Oh My Goodness. Of course they took this "very seriously" and he received what they call a "community violation" which also entails a call home. The girl was okay and her injuries sounded more like a scratch which drew a little blood.

When I first picked Grant up he denied that he had done anything and claimed everyone had lied. "Even though you wrote on the community violation form what you did?" "They forced me to write that!" "Well, if you didn't do this, then they are falsely accusing you and we need to go back in and clear this up." "Fine, I did it."

Later at home he claimed that after he found the glass in a crack in the sidewalk the girl told him to poke her. I told him that I didn't believe that because people don't ask to be hurt BUT even if it was true you can't listen to other people when they tell you to do something wrong, you have to make your own decisions.

A little while later I received a call from Grant's teacher and she said, "I was shocked when they told me Grant had done that. He is not malicious at all." I told her I don't think he really comprehended what would happen if he poked someone with glass and he had told me the girl told him to do it, but I told him I didn't believe him. She said, "Knowing this girl, it's not entirely unlikely that she did tell him to do it." I felt better after talking to her...but still! Oh what I would give for a week without school drama!

I also sent Greyson's teacher an e-mail because Greyson had told me he was reading Amelia Bedelia books for reading time. This kid had been one of the top readers in his class and I was wondering why now he was reading below grade level. The teacher explained that although Greyson's fluency was at grade level, his comprehension - especially when he had to write about what he read - was not. I know this about my kid, that he has trouble putting ideas into writing. But in Michigan his comprehension was still scored at grade level. I know, I went back and looked at his report card and and MEAP results. But apparently at this school, he's not up to level.

I do have to say that overall I think my kids are getting a higher quality education. More is expected of them and they are spending 6 more hours a week at school verses what they spent in Michigan. And the teachers are so dedicated. They are working longer hours for less pay AND I am getting contacted after the school day is done.

Someday I'd like to write about more than what my kids are doing at school. But for now, that is where all the drama is in our lives!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

When your kids give you lemons in the morning....

Most of you have already seen this morning's Facebook post:
Why yes, it is time for a mocktail and a bubble bath. By 8:45 I had already jogged for 45 minutes, got the kids up & dressed, made breakfast & lunches, swore at my oldest on the drive to school after telling him politely at least 3 times to change his negative attitude and then told my 6 year old to sell his sob story somewhere else because I wasn't buying it, at school drop off.
It's one of those days when you wonder, "How did this get to be my life???"

Okay to back up and give you an update on the whole school situation: the rest of the week continued along the same vein as the first two days. After getting a call from Grant's teacher on Tuesday, I received a call from Greyson's on Friday. "I gather Greyson isn't used to the structure that we have at this school. I've had to remind him several times in class to sit up and other times to follow the speaker with his eyes." Yes, both my kid's teachers are reporting that they were never made to sit up in class before. Another sigh. I did let him know that Greyson was frustrated that math was a review right now and that he was looking forward to moving ahead. Also, Greyson was frustrated by the homework which involved writing paragraphs about the school values. "I've noticed that all the new students are struggling with the homework, while returning students seem to know what to expect." Uh huh.
On Thursday Grant started bawling, not just crying but bawling, when I dropped him off at school. That day the teacher was at the door and said, "Don't worry, he's always fine withing 10 minutes." Then on Friday when it happened again he told me, "I always get left behind in the cafeteria when it is time to go to our room." I was pretty sure "always" was an exaggeration. So on Monday when it looked like there would be eminent tears and the same declaration came forth I told him I would e-mail his teacher and found out that, yes he did get grouped with another class once but now tables have been assigned for a smoother transition. So, this morning when the tears started, I'd pretty much had it with the over-dramatics and told him to "You got left behind once and now you have an assigned table and know what to do. Sell your sob story somewhere else, because I'm not buying it." Oh dear, now I feel like a horrible person. Add on to that that I swore at Greyson after telling him he was not allowed to say, "I hate school," "The only good thing about school is getting out of it," "The thing I'm looking forward to most is the day being done."
You know what? I tried hard to be patient with both my kids, but that's enough. You are not always going to like school. You are not always going to like your job. But until an alternative comes along, you do NOT have the right to make those in your path miserable. Buck up and find something positive about your day. Then I decided to take my own advice and make a mocktail, draw a bath and pull out a good book....
Here's hoping you get the time to do something for yourself today!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Second day of school

Wow, I am grateful for all the support I received on "The First Day of School!" I was feeling guilty for complaining about "public" school.
I do need to clarify a few things. I don't have any problems with the school. Personally, all the contacts I've had with the school have been positive. I just wish my kids could see beyond the uniforms and discipline policy.
Yesterday, the 2nd day of school, when I picked my kids up I asked them to tell me 2 things they liked about school. Greyson answered, "Lunch and recess." Which is a typical response for him, but he was greatly disappointed on the first day when they spent the first part of recess reciting the school values before they could play. So YEA! for more playtime on day 2! Grant answered PAT and recess.
Then just before dinner I got a call from Grant's teacher. "Grant seems really tense. Is there anything making him nervous beyond being at a new school?" I answered that Grant always took a while to warm up to new situations and that everything was new about this school. "Grant is a good kid, but I can tell our rules are different than what he is used to. He had to stay inside for the beginning of recess because he had trouble following rules at carpet time." This was nothing new, both my boys have A LOT of energy that does not mesh well with sitting in school. Sigh.
So overall, the 2nd day went better and today is school tee shirt day and I'm hoping for more good reports from my kids!

To leave this on a funnier note, on the first day I asked Grant if he told anyone he was from Michigan. "Yeah, the kid sitting next to me talked to me in Spanish. I said, 'I don't speak Spanish, I speak what Michigan speaks.'" Well, that's my little Michigander!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The First Day of School

Yesterday was a big day for us. The one-month anniversary of the boys and I moving to New Orleans AND the first day of school!
I guess I should start by saying the schools in New Orleans are notorious.  Most of the public schools have been taken over by charter schools. And the charter schools have a lottery process, some with testing, that happens in the spring. So moving here in July, we were short on choices. When I first started calling around, no one answered since school was out for the summer. When I finally did start getting a hold of schools we got the "no vacancies" message. Finally I found a school and it is not too far away. But of course, if it was a school that still had openings it wasn't a "first choice" with other parents.
After I went to the parent orientation night I could tell that this was an inter-city school with a big focus on discipline and "preparing all of our students to attend a college-preparatory high school, graduate from a selective college, and contribute positively to their community." It was definitely going to be a change.
And the first visible change was that we needed to go uniform shopping! Uniforms were a totally new concept for my kids! And the strictness of them got me, "all black shoes, including the soles."
Finally the first day of school arrived.
After counting down the days until they started - I was actually nervous for them!
And then, I was heartbroken when they both got in the car after school and said, "We like our old school better!" I learned that Grant had eaten NOTHING at lunch, despite packing a lunch of his favorites. Greyson told me they just talked about discipline and values all day, which he thought was unfair.
Grant did tell me he liked that they have PAT time which was picking your own activity, but Greyson said the only thing good about school was coming home.
Greyson also said to me, "I'm the only white kid in my class, everyone else is brown. In the other 4th grade there is a white girl, but she was home schooled and has no idea what school is." All I said was, "Oh, really?" I guess I want Greyson to make up his own mind about what that all means.
So this morning as I woke up the boys I was greeted with cries of, "We don't want to go back there!" Well, you don't really have a choice. I want to help my kids see the opportunities and good experiences, but I'm not sure myself what those are right now.