Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Story, Chapter 1.

I know I've promised all of you the story of what lead us to move Allison to a new school. At first I didn't write about it because I wasn't ready to talk about it. And now, when I have sat down to write about it, it's so long, I can't find the time to do it. So here's my answer. I'll write about it in installments. Here's chapter 1.

Allison was so excited for the first day of school. At first she didn't want to go back but then she got caught up in everything and was ready when the day came. The first day was only 3 hours. They had Chapel for an hour, put their supplies away, drew a picture, played on the playground and then came home on the bus. She had a good day. So we thought.

The second day seemed to have gone good also. However, we soon found out that it was Allison's perception that they day went good. That early evening we got a phone call from her teacher who I will refer to as Mrs. B. from here on out. She said that there were some things that happened in school that day and wanted to meet with me to discuss them. She wanted to start the year off on the right foot. I told her that she would have to meet with both of us and Curtis didn't get off of work until 4 pm. She agreed to stay a little after school because she felt it was important. After I hung up, we asked Allison what she did that day and she said nothing. Unfortunately, we didn't believe her and took her new television that she received for her birthday in July out of her room and sent her to bed early.

The next day (Wednesday) we met with Mrs. B. that afternoon. She started the conversation by saying that she has been teaching for 20 years. Let me say here that her credentials were not in question. If they had been, we would not have been paying for Allison to attend that school. She also said she watched Allison on the playground and in the halls last year...I guess this was her way of justifying what she was about to say. She said that Allison was anti-social, opposition defiant, easily distracted, doesn't follow instructions, has inappropriate responses and has signs of A.D.D. and that she should be tested and that they can have people come in and do it. She showed us a school paper where she doodled a couple of faces in the right hand margin. She asked Allison what is was and she said Allison's response was that it was the confused Allison. I asked her later about this and she said it was Mommy and Daddy because she missed us. Allison is smart. Last year she was reprimanded for doodling on her work paper. She knew she shouldn't have done it so she said to each of us what she thought she should to keep herself out of trouble. This is my opinion of the faces. Mrs. B. felt that there were a lot of things going on in her little head and that she needs all the professional help that we could give her. That we needed to peel back the layers and help her. She suggested the school guidance counselor, school psychologist and also an outside child psychologist that she could refer us to that she has worked with in the past. She also said that she suggested that we put her back into Kindergarten. She said that she was the one that held Curtis' niece back in Kindergarten thirteen years ago. What does that have to do with Allison? They are two different kids. Raised differently by two very different set of parents. So we refused to hold her back. We didn't feel it was a good idea because academically, she never had a bad mark on her weekly progress reports or her quarterly report cards. We felt that she would be bored and then act out even more. She also told us that if things continued that Allison would have a bad year, she (Mrs. B.) would have a bad year and we would have a bad year. She said if something didn't change, then she would be retained. She also told us that we were wrong to reward her with a kitten last year. If you don't know what I am talking about, read here. She asked us if we "paid" her often for doing what we wanted her to do. She asked us what was next..."a diamond bracelet or a new car?" Excuse me, but WHAT THE HECK? She doesn't even know us! How dare she give us parenting advice. If she took the time to know us, she would know that Allison has what she needs but does not get everything that she wants. If we are guilty of anything, it's giving Allison more love and attention than most kids get. Their theme for the school year this year is Family. Some of the suggestions were to eat dinner as a family at the dinner table together, worship together, bake cookies together and basically do things together as a family. We already do all those things but she doesn't know that because she never took the time to find out what kind of a family we are. She just immediately passed judgement on us and assumed that we "pay" Allison for everything. The ironic thing is that she just told us 6 days before this meeting that her and her husband had told their two sons that they would pay for their college education if they help out. They wanted to send them off into the world without a college debt. Excuse me but what would you call that? A bribe, a reward or an incentive? They put a condition out there for their sons (if they helped pay for it) and then the reward was to be debt free. Hmm, I don't know but it looks like the pot calling the kettle black! Ha...and the kitten was FREE! Anyway, let me explain the inappropriate response. She said that on the first day of school that they were asked to draw their favorite place. Allison drew a rectangle with a stick figure (herself) in it and two snakes. She said she wanted to live with snakes. Well Mrs. B. said that was an inappropriate response. That it is not normal for her to want to live with snakes. Hmm, for watching Allison and thinking she knows her and what her problems are, she really doesn't know her at all! All of our family and friends said "That's Allison!" when we told them about the picture. Did I mention the stick figure had a smiley face on it? The only reason she doesn't have one as a pet (she has asked) is that I told I would have to move out. So far, I'm winning over the snake. I only pray that she feels the same way when she's 16 and I'm a drag! Here's the pic....
So we agreed to get her the help that she felt Allison needed. We also asked her to let us know how each day was going. She hesitated by saying that she had 17 other students but Curtis insisted and asked for a little post-it note with either a smiley or a frown face so we knew where to take the conversation with Allison at dinner. She finally gave in and agreed.

Curtis asked her if she had had many of these conversations with other parents and what the outcomes were. She said that she had it with another set of parents. She implied it was in a previous year. She said they got mad at her and withdrew their son from the school. She asked us to please not be mad at her. She just wanted "to help" Allison.

As you can imagine, we were shocked at everything that had been said. I started to cry for my baby early into the meeting and just couldn't get my composure back. I was so mad at myself that all of the things that she observed about Allison had slipped by me. How could I not have known any of these things about my daughter? I have good people skills and read people really well. It's one of those things that I've been complimented on. Where did I go wrong? Or did I go wrong? Was there more to this whole thing? It was all so strange. How does a teacher make these assumptions about a student after just one day of school? It all seemed pretty odd to us. I'm so glad that I didn't meet with her alone. I am not sure that anyone would have believed me when I told them what she said. I'm glad Curtis and I had each other to witness this.

...to be continued...

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2 comments:

Sandy said...

Cindi...I have always said and will continue to say you are the beat mom ever and Curtis is a great dad. So happy to hear you and family are doing better, Allison is a very smart, happy and well adjusted young lady keep up the good work. Always go with your gut feeling. Love your blog heading. Love You!

Kim said...

{{{Cindi}}} I know what you are going through. Please feel free to email me privately. I felt so alone going through it and had no one to "vent to" or "lean on". You are Curtis are on top of the situation and that's the most important thing you can do as parents. Don't let ANYONE tell you about what they think is best for Allison. You and Curtis know what's best for her and yourselves. She's a great kid!!

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