April 21, 2007

The Mommy in Me is Still a Teacher

My stepson has been in trouble at home a lot lately because he's been in trouble at school. His school has this color-code system (Fred Jones, maybe?) where if he's good he stays on purple, but as his behavior declines it goes green, yellow, and don't-you-dare-get-to-red. So he's had spurts where he's come home with greens two or three times a week. There was a day several weeks ago he got a yellow, and so we went back to the classroom to see what the problem was. I wanted to buy the poor woman a drink because she looked like Mrs. Frazzle. What the problem? Not listening. Disrupting others. Not staying on task. Bless her heart she recognized that these are kindergartners and it's spring. Challenging indeed. Acceptable? Not in our house.

And by the way, how embarrassing that my child has contributed to sucking the life out of a teacher.

We have a system for dealing with this, but when push came to shove nothing seemed to be working, so my husband told the child who cannot listen at school (he has issues at home, too) that if he got in trouble again--no matter how minor--he could not go to his grandmother's during spring break. My stepson adores his grandmother. (His mother's mother.) You've never seen such a focused child. He got it together and went to his grandmother's.

But then, he came back from break and was okay for a few days and then started up not paying attention in school again. Really that's what it is. Not listening to instructions. Being off task. So, guess who gave up his next visit to grandma's? Traumatic event. Let me tell ya. Consequences suck.

His grandma is supportive of this, but then she did suggest I talk to his teacher because she thought since he was so bright, he might be bored and acting out because of it. I guess when he gets distracted and doesn't listen to us it's because he's too smart for us, aye grandma?

His teacher is quite competent and has things in place for him to do when he is finished with his work. He has an extension/practice folder, there are centers, and there are computers. The homework he brings home seems to be an appropriate challenge for him. So, in general, I think when he isn't paying attention or doesn't follow instructions, it's more a personal problem than a teacher problem.

My stepson is kinesthetic and logical/mathematical. Sitting in a desk practicing letters is tough for him. Last summer, sitting down for an hour to "practice school" did drive me to drink, and now he's in a full-day program. He is excelling in developing his academic skills, and socially and developmentally he has grown so much. He has all the other stuff dialed in. We're not backing down on this. He is capable of having the whole package--he has demonstrated it many times.

I tried not to be too irritated with my stepson's grandmother and her suggestion, but then the next day when his mother called, annoyed that he would not be coming to visit, and suggested that his problem was that he was not challenged enough and that we should talk to the teacher, I wanted to murder. (I might be a little biased here; I have to recognize that. I mean, the kids have visitation with their grandparents, not their mother. Uhm. Yea.) Doesn't anyone think that the problem is that the child needs to learn the discipline of learning in a classroom? Doesn't he need to learn when it's time to do what he wants to do and when it's time to do as he's told?

Am I totally sounding like a teacher here? I can't help it. It's an insult to my profession to think that the struggles that a child has in learning choices and consequences should hold teachers in a negative light.

Thank goodness I was a teacher first, or who knows? I might be a parent who does not think that children should have to deal with the consequences of their poor choices. I might be a parent who coddles when children deserve to be in trouble for their bad behaviors. I might be the parent of a child who can't help but grow up to be a juvenile delinquent. Okay. We know that sometimes good parents end up with juvenile delinquents, but just so you all know, this parent's working really hard to prevent delinquency from ignorance and lack of parenting.

I personally know that some teacher somewhere down the line will appreciate it.

And some kid, when he grows up, will appreciate it, too.

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