Wednesday, January 31, 2007

What TV Does to Your Kids.

Little Man: Daddy, I feel insignificant.

DH: Oh really? Where did you see that? On TV?

Little Man: Daddy! You're supposed to say "Aww!"

Little Man is 4 years old. He may be very smart for his age, but there's no way he could know what the word insignificant means. He did understand the emotion the use of that word was supposed to evoke, however.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Who Knows Best?

They say a mother knows her child best. Parenting isn't an exact science, but it floors me how many will discredit the parent on things we know about our child. When they're babies they'll tell you you're a new mother, take advantage of new mother anxiety to push their views on you and convince you you have even less clue than you already thought you had. When they're school age they'll tell you you don't know, after all, your child spends more time at school than at home. That must make the teacher (who has around 20 other kids in her class) somehow the expert. I'm sick of supposed experts undermining the authority and confidence of loving parents fervently trying to do what is best for the little being G-d put in their care to raise.

I do not have rose-colored glasses on when it comes to my children. I'm a realist. No, my children aren't perfect. They're on the road of learning what it is to live in this world. I don't make excuses for their behavior when they're wrong. I am in close contact with their teachers so I can be on the front line in helping my kids grow and learn. But it floors me how many people discredit parents on issues that they would know best. An example? My oldest daughter has been having behavioral issues at school since we arrived here. I email the teacher after a month of this and tell her that she's feeling insecure and stressed because she feels she doesn't belong and hasn't made friends. Her response? "I don't see a lack of confidence, and she doesn't appear to want friends." Hmmm. My daughter is 6 year old. She is creative, funny, loving and exuberant. She loves to dance and sing. She's very impulsive, which gets her in trouble a bit. Since her birth I would just stare at her and wonder what kind of woman she will become. As each element of who she is reveals itself, my insides dance. I do that with each of my children. I want them to be everything G-d intends them to become. As they learn the lessons of life, one thing no one will do is crush my children's spirit. That's where I draw the line. Admittedly, I worry about my oldest the most. Perhaps it's because her personality mirrors mine. Maybe that's because I see the fragility nobody else does. She has an exterior of confidence, but inside she worries and frets. Actually, I see insecurity more with her than my other two. Whenever I point that out, I get poo-pooed. Common sense gets shoved where only a proctologist can find it. "Oh no [she doesn't]. I don't see that at all." From MIL that sees her maybe twice a year. Oh that's right. I wouldn't know. Puh-leez. Since she was a baby, my daughter was a thumb-sucker. I could pop the paci in her mouth and she'd spit it out in disgust as if to say "don't give me that fake thing, Mommy!" Like many young children, she hangs on to security things. She has two: her thumb and her bunny. Bunny now resides on her bed, a place of honor. But at 6, her most portable security friend is right on her hand.

Since we moved mid-year we had to change schools. This place is a stickler for rules. Break a rule, lose a ticket. Lose three tickets, you work on a time-out. Now I'm all for rules and the need for order. So I get emails about how many tickets my daughter loses each day, what she did, blah blah blah. Yesterday the dreaded 'pink slip' arrived in her folder. If she gets so many of these in a marking period, it's a detention. You're kidding me, right? A detention? In Kindergarten? The charge? Spitting. She tells me she was making helicopter noises. Most of the lost 'tickets' were due to impulsiveness. Talking, being noisy, not paying attention, ate glue, running in the hall...goofy kid stuff. Now it's worth giving a detention? Enough was enough. I called the teacher. I want a precise rundown of what happened to earn her a pink slip."She was making silly noises in the cafeteria and because her two front teeth are missing she sprayed on another student." You're kidding me, right? But wait, this gets better. "The student told the cafeteria worker and she gave her the slip. She didn't see it happen."So based solely on what a 5 year old said, this woman gave my child the most severe punishment available? The teacher does say she will get to the bottom of it today. The conversation continues. The bottom line is that most these infractions are not defiance, but typical cluelessness. The teacher suggests being explicit as to why the rules are in place with her, so she understands why. Okay, sounds like a plan. At this point I'm trying very hard to keep my temper, and mouth, in check. An antagonistic relationship won't be productive. The conversation continues."Please encourage her to keep her hands out of her mouth. We tell her how many germs she's putting into her body each time she does it." Here's a thought, Professor Obvious: She doesn't care. Now I didn't say that, but I sure thought it. I go on to explain how it's a security thing. At 6, my daughter is of the age where she understands sucking her thumb is not socially acceptable, but when she feels insecure or stressed, in it goes. At home I privately remind her to take it out and gently tell her "You're a big girl now, I know you don't need it." I try to encourage her to have the confidence not to rely on her thumb anymore. If I make each incident a battle, it will drive her to want it. We need to win the war. The teacher gasps. "She has her thumb in her mouth all day." Gee, it couldn't be all those ridiculous rules and tickets, could it? Hell, the girl probably thinks she can't win. She hates school. And at this point, I don't blame her. My kid isn't an animal to be trained. She's supposed to be learning. In my day, Kindergarten was fun. We did cool stuff and played. All I hear about is her infractions. This isn't "I told you so." I could care less. I'm angry at what they've done to her spirit. They've taken her exuberance and replaced it with ambivalence. By not listening and paying attention, they've shown her she's unimportant and doesn't matter. A kid from her class told her "Santa isn't coming to your house. You're bad." I wonder if they lost a ticket?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Who's Got the Whole World Where?

He's got the whole world... in His hands
He's got the whole world... in His hands
He's got the whole world... in His hands
He's got the whole world in His hands.

Today we took our little weekly trip out to the store. Since I live out in the countryside, it takes around 40 minutes to get to the nearest commercial 'hub'. As we drove through the countryside, I hear my 6 year old sing a familiar tune from the backseat: "I've got the whole world....on my computer......" Ah yes...a sign of the times.