Wednesday, August 24, 2005

School "Buts"

And then there's Robin. She spent the day, and then the night, at the abuelos' on Sunday because I had gotten a weekend's worth of work on Friday but of course had not even glanced at it on Saturday. Julia was supposed to stay there on Sunday too, but she really really wanted to come home with me, so I brought her. It's not too hard to work with one of them around (especially Julia) - it's the combination that's deadly (and loud).

The work went pretty well and was basically finished by Sunday evening. Robin was going to spend the night down there (which she's always begging to do) and Yolanda was going to take her to school in the morning so I could give the documents a quick read in the morning (when my brain works best) and still have them sent by 8:00.

But Robin's teacher had given her a couple of homework sheets on Friday and not only had I forgotten to have her take them to Yolanda's house; she hadn't even done them. So I took the sheets down Sunday evening and sat with her while she did them. But then she didn't want to spend the night. Or rather, she did want to sleep at the abuelos' but she wanted ME to take her to school. We're not going to go there (precedent, you know), so I told her she had to choose. She freaked out for a while but eventually agreed to go to school with Yolanda in the morning (which she had begged to do the week before).

So they went in the morning and it was fine. But apparently the honeymoon is over. She still allows as how she likes the work, the music, the swimming, etc., and every time I pick her up she's happily engaged in whatever's going on...but she has been freaking out about not wanting to go - Monday night, Tuesday morning and this morning. (Tuesday night she was upset but not identifying it with school.)

On Monday night and Tuesday morning she said it was because nobody wanted to play with her. I had noticed her playing with a particular little girl (Sophie) for the first week or so, and then seen Sophie playing with other kids when I picked Robin up more recently. So I explained it to the teacher and asked her to help Robin find a child to play with. She seemed very understanding.

This morning Robin said the problem was that she wanted me, or someone from her family, to stay with her. She calmed down a little at a couple of points, but quickly got worked up again, and when we got to school she actually refused to get out of the car. I had gotten there early enough to stay for five minutes or so before the day started, but it didn't seem to help at all - she just kept crying and clinging. As I was finally disengaging at the gate, one of the teachers came out to tell all the children it was time to get started. Robin finally, voluntarily, let go and...maybe? possibly?snapped out of it as she was turning to go in (was she actually skipping? just for one pace?)

I know kids usually do fine after the parents finally leave, and I've always been inclined to keep the goodbyes short and not worry about it, but I guess I got sucked into it this time. It's not that she was putting on an act - she was really really distressed - but I forget how fast they can shift gears sometimes. She really does like being there, I'm positive, and she's definitely getting more stimulation and learning more. They teach the kids cursive right from the outset, so even with writing, which she mastered a long time ago, she's got something new to learn.

I just hope she gets through the separation/new situation trauma before she starts getting frustrated with the school work. Before her first day we talked about how everything she had been doing up to now had been very easy for her, and was boring. She understood - or said she did - that in order to learn new things you have to try to do things you don't know yet, and that means that there will be parts you'll get wrong or not understand them.

But so far that hasn't been a problem for her. The first week she kept complaining that the work was too easy, and I kept telling her that the teacher has to learn about her, and find out what she already knows, before she can help her start learning new things. The same thing happened with the swimming: after the first day she said she had liked it, but that they made her wear "floaty things" on her arms AND her back, and they didn't believe her when she said she knew how to swim. She really wasn't buying it when I said that that's their job - to make sure the child is safe while finding out what she already knows so they can teach her new things.

So anyway, I'm not having second thoughts about the school, but Robin sure is...this week anyway. I had been thinking about starting Julia in September, and assuming that she would be asking to go by then. But this week's "I hate school and I'm NOT going" litany probably isn't helping. Of course, the one thing that Robin says would help her feel better is having a member of the family there with her, and she knows Julia would be in the same class if she went. But, too, I don't want to start Julia on a brand new experience (much newer to her than all this is to Robin, really) with the expectation that she'll be Robin's "medicine" either. That would hardly be fair to her, and it could give Robin an unrealistic view of the way things work.


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