Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"The Rigors of Kindergarten" or "Why I'm Currently Mad at a Kindergarten Teacher"

When the school year started (and Peanut entered Kindergarten), we knew that he was going to have a bit of a tough transition. Peanut has been dealt a bit of a disadvantage, compared to his classmates. In our small town, kids like Peanut aren't very common. He's the only kid in his class with a dark skin color. He's the only kid in his class who was adopted. He's the only kid in his class who lost his whole family and his culture...who then had to get used to a new culture, a new country, a new home, and a new family. In the past two years, Peanut has been through a tremendous amount of change. He's making incredible progress and I know that he will continue to do so...but people in his life need to give him the tools he needs (and the chance) to succeed.

Before school started, Z took Peanut in to school to meet his teacher and check out his classroom. During this meeting, Z told the Kindergarten teacher that Peanut was going to need some additional work. He told her that it was important that she be consistent. He told her that it was important that she make it clear to him at the very beginning of the school year what the boundaries were...and what the consequences were for over-stepping those boundaries. Z told her to expect Peanut to do some attention-seeking behaviors...and that these behaviors were related to his past and his difficulties with attachment. Z told her that we expected some difficult days for him and that once he knew what his boundaries (and consequences) were, then we expected he would do just fine. We told her to please let us know right away if he was not behaving appropriately so that we could address the behaviors right away.

We were clear with her.

Yesterday, Peanut had a rough day at school. His "cubby" was red - which means his behavior was bad at school (the first red he's had). So, he lost some privileges at home and had a "talking to" about his behavior. I wrote a note to the teacher letting her know that if there were specific behaviors that she would like us to address at home that she should let us know so that we could help Peanut work on these things.

She wrote a note back letting us know that yesterday's behavior wasn't really different from any other day so far...its just that now she's enforcing the rules because they are a month in to school and the students should be used to school and the rules now. She said Peanut is having a hard time with "Kindergarten-appropriate behaviors". She said she knew we had been recommended to enroll Peanut in the Pre-K program, but that we had opted out of it. She wanted us to know that Pre-K was still an option for Peanut and that she thinks it would be a good option for him. If we want to talk about this option for Peanut, please give her a call.

UGH.

A month in to school and this is the FIRST TIME we are hearing about his "inappropriate" behaviors.

Why did we bother telling the teacher any of our concerns BEFORE school started? She clearly did not take anything we said seriously. Now, poor Peanut has spent a month at school thinking he was doing just fine...only to learn yesterday that he wasn't. Now he's confused about those boundaries...and the consequences. Now we have to re-teach him how to be a Kindergartener.

Now, I don't want to paint with a broad brush, but I have a feeling that this teacher read Peanut's "Kindergarten Round-up" evaluation and made up her mind about Peanut before she even met him. She's writing him off because he's going to be more work. And I'm concerned that she isn't going to listen to any input that we give her.

She wants us to put him in Pre-K...he'll turn 6 in Pre-K...and then turn 7 in Kindergarten. Am I crazy to think this is a bad idea?

Z and I are determined to make sure that Peanut is not punished for being adopted and for having a background that is "different" than the typical kid in our town. The teachers who have suggested Pre-K for Peanut have all tried to tell us that it is there to "help him". They are worried that "the rigors of Kindergarten" will "damage his spirit" and they think that Pre-K will help him transition better. But none of them want to hear that holding him back (and now removing him from Kindergarten and sending him back to Pre-K) will also "damage his spirit". Peanut has wanted to go to school from the moment he got off the airplane. He was heartbroken when his big brother got to go to school and he didn't. He's SMART. He needs to go to school. When he gets bored, he misbehaves. Somehow, I don't think that Pre-K will engage him enough to keep him busy and keep him from getting bored.

But what do I know?

I'm just his MOM.

My mistake? Taking him to the week-long Kindergarten Round-Up. I really wish I had not taken him, and that I had instead just enrolled him in Kindergarten. Kindergarten Round-Up has only given the teachers an "out". Its given them the chance to pre-judge my little boy and that just stinks. Now we have to work to get the teacher to step outside her box of familiarity and figure out some new strategies that will work for our little boy. He deserves to be in Kindergarten with the rest of the kids his age. He deserves to be given an education and be evaluated fairly. He deserves a chance.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Proverb

"To climb a mountain, you zigzag."
-Zimbabwean Proverb

This seems particularly fitting. I seem to be doing a lot of zigging and zagging lately. Eventually, though...we'll reach the top of the mountain and have a great view. At least, I hope so.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Planning Ahead

After church today, Z headed out of the house to do a little "guy stuff". Since we have a tremendously busy week ahead of us this week, I decided to use the time wisely and do some cooking to help us get through the week (or at least to get us started).

The boys wanted to help, so we put on our aprons and got to work!


First we made a pan of these.


Then some of these.


And a big old pot of chili to go with them.

Why is it that chili never looks very appetizing in a photo? Its gonna be good, though...It is going to cook all day long in the crock pot tomorrow and we'll come home to a kitchen smelling wonderfully spicy. Then all I will have to do to be ready for dinner tomorrow is make some rice (the boys like to eat their chili over rice) and grate some cheese.

And since we were already in the kitchen, I thought we'd make these, too.


I think we're good on snacks for the week. Now I just have to plan out the rest of our evening meals. I know the chili will provide us with a couple of nights...as well as some lunches. Maybe some roast in the crock pot another night? We'll see what I come up with. At least I have a good start now.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Mish Mash

Since I'm feeling a little under the weather (and I am confined to sitting down so as not to cause my head to explode), I thought I would update the blog. It seems as though things around these bloggy parts have been neglected lately. I've had lots of things I've wanted to write...but I haven't really been feeling like sharing too much lately. We'll just chalk that up to adoption-related funk.

Today I took the little camera out of my purse and downloaded the photos. Who knew I hadn't posted photos of the boys at swimming lessons over the summer?


I am happy to report that they both passed their swimming lessons and loved their time in the pool (even though it was July and FREEZING here - we had to bundle the boys (and ourselves) up in sweats in order to get to the pool on several days).

I also realized that I had not yet posted photos of the first day of school! Yikes! Yes...we've been in session since Aug. 24th!
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The boys have had a mostly good beginning to the school year. I was a little worried about how Peanut would do going into Kindergarten (especially after that Kindergarten round-up in the Spring), but he's doing just fine. I expect he'll have some rough days here and there, but overall he's LOVING school. Every day the first week he would declare "Mommy! I LOVE school!" when I picked them up from the after-school program. Now, if we could just get him to eat faster so he finishes his lunch...

And Jellybean? Well...let's just say the first week was a rough one. There was a note sent home from the teacher (for bad behavior) ON THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!! Not the best way to start first grade...But, things have picked up since that first week and he's getting back into the groove. All summer long he thought he was DONE with school, since he had finished Kindergarten. We kept trying to explain to him that he still had a lot of years of school ahead of him, but he simply didn't believe us. Apparently it was a bit of a rude awakening when the first day rolled around.

These days, we're dealing with sinus infections and a mystery rash around here. The Daddy and I have sinus issues...and poor Jellybean has a nasty mystery rash. It looks TERRIBLE. We've taken him to the pediatrician and are hoping that its cleared up soon (and that no one else gets it).

A Rare Occassion

Both the Daddy and the Mommy are at home...and there are no boys here. Too bad we're both home because we're sick.

One of us is going to have to go pick up the boys from the after-school program soon.

Hopefully the pot of chicken noodle soup I'm cooking will help us feel better. And hopefully the boys are up for a low-key evening.

Parade

We've been to our share of parades this summer. Of course, the boys love them...and always come home with TONS of candy. But recently, the boys had a special treat and got to see Daddy marching in the local parade. He's the handsome guy on the right.



Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fingerprinting, Take 3

This morning, Z and I headed off to get our fingerprints taken...Again. This time for USCIS.

We dropped the boys off at the before-school program, drove to the Federal Building, arrived for our 8:00am appointment, and were back on the road by 8:30am. At least it was a quick appointment this time.

On the way home, however, Z and I talked about how it all just seems like an exercise in futility. We are one step further into the process. But with each step, it feels more and more like we are walking into a dark tunnel...with no light to guide us from the other side.

I hope we're wrong.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Today's Proverb

I love it when my daily calendar has Ghanaian proverbs on it. They are always so quirky and funny (with truth in the mix, too).

Here's yesterday's proverb:
"Never rub bottoms with a porcupine." - Ghanaian Proverb



And in case you were curious about today's proverb, here it is:
"The snail leaves a trail wherever it goes." -African Proverb