Saturday, October 18, 2014

My kids and schoolwork are enemies.

It's hard trying to parent from afar.  Ben went to parent/teacher conferences this week, and it turns out that Sadie has only turned in 14% of her homework.  (I know, random weird percentage given to him by the teacher.  Whatevs.)  She's just...really, really forgetful.  She has forgotten her lunch bag basically every single day since the first day of first grade.  It stays there, in the lunch bag bin at school, every day.  So I would have to send her lunches in paper bags until I got the keep-it-cold bag back.

And also almost every day since the first day of first grade, she forgets to bring homework home. And then when she does it, she forgets to turn it in to the teacher.  Her saving grace is that she is such a good, obedient child in class.  Which I really do appreciate.  Contrast that to my little ADHD boy, Dyl.  Yikes.  That's been super fun to deal with.  His 4th grade teacher unabashedly HATED him. She was like, "I think he needs a higher dosage of his medication."  But dude, he was on the maximum dosage of medication that he was allowed by his pediatrician!  I just tactfully told her that I couldn't and that I was so sorry.  I still get mad when I think about her.  Maybe I should have transferred him.  I just didn't want him to get the idea into his head that his mommy can swoop in and save him, you know?  I had so many students who transferred into my class from another English teacher's class, and then end up switching back to him when they realized that they actually had to work in my class, too.  Sigh.

Or Micah.  He mainly does okay at school.  Um, with a few notable exceptions.  He got "put on yellow" like the second week of school (Not going to even go into this.  Most of you know what this means...), and his response was to run outside of the classroom, sinking to his knees in the atrium of the school, and screaming, "I HATE THIS WORLD!!!  I HATE THIS LIFE!!!"  And a couple of weeks ago, he tickled some kid at recess, the kid didn't like it and held Micah's arms against his sides in a big bear hug, and Micah BIT the kid.


Sigh.  My kids are so intense.

But not Sadie.  She is, with the exception of when she's asked to clean her room, a ray of sunshine. She gets along well with others, is cooperative, stays quiet in class, etc.

But the girl is ditzy.

And I'm not the pot calling the kettle black here.  I'm extremely ditzy.  Ben is extremely ditzy.  The poor girl never had a chance with those genes.

One of our favorite phrases now, when she has a ditzy moment, is, "She's just happy to be here." When I did Activity Days, one of ladies I worked with had a daughter in Activity Days.  And sometimes her daughter would forget to do something or not really hear the instructions or whatever. And when her daughter had one of those ditzy moments once, she said, "Um, she's just happy to be here."  I laughed and laughed.  So now we use that term all the time.  When we refer to ourselves doing something ditzy, each other doing something ditzy, Sadie doing something ditzy...  She's just happy to be here.

So back to Sadie's 14% problem.  It makes me just...gnash my teeth that I'm not there.  If I was there, I'd be like, "Where's your homework?  Let's get it out."  I'd know what was due when.  I'd follow up with her:  "Did you turn that work in?  You need to get credit for the work you did."  When I did things like that last year and in years before, at least she got better grades.  And turned in, like, maybe 94% of her homework.  If we're going to be specific, then let's be specific.  But what can I do from here?  Encourage her?  Encourage Ben?  He's so overwhelmed with basically being a single working parent right now.  And I get that.

And we do need to do the Love and Logic thing here, which is to say, "Okay, you are getting a bad grade.  Why is that?  What can you do to raise the grade?  Such-and-such privilege is taken away from you until you can show that you have raised your grade."  We shouldn't be such helicopter parents.  And usually I'm not.  But when it comes to schoolwork and grades...ack.  I have a hard time doing Love and Logic with schoolwork stuff.

Dylan's parent/teacher conference went a little bit better.  He also suffers from extreme disorganization.  I even sent him a care package with a little notebook to write down his homework from each class (the kid is in middle school and I'm freaking out) and seven folders, one for each subject.  I told him to write the name of each subject at the top of the folder.  I told him to put stuff he needs to do on one side of the folder.  I told him to put in things he did and got back from the teacher on the other side of the folder.  The Folder Method is a tried-and-true Kar Method for school.  I did it clear through college.  It was fail-proof.

I'm pretty sure he hasn't done one thing with those folders and that cute little notebook, the little punk.

So he has like a couple of A's and a couple of B's and a few C's.  Which just really bugs me.  He's brilliant.  Brilliant!  But his ADHD works against him.  It's tough.

I'm just sitting here, watching this all play out, helpless.

I mean, all of their teachers know our situation.  And I know that when I get up there, I can be more hands-on than Ben has been able to be.  I'll resume my stay-at-home mom status and have to be Mean Mom Who Rides Their Butts About Their Grades, Because Really, You Guys.

And Micah.  Oh Micah.  Talk about a reluctant reader.  How did all of my children (so far - jury's out on Gage.  I'm just excited that he's using 4- to 5-word sentences right now...) become reluctant readers?  How did a voracious reader get these kids who hate reading, hate writing?????  It makes me sad.  But I have to let that go.  My kids are not me.  They are not self-starters.  They are not perfectionists.  And it's okay.  But I do want them to try their best.  That's all I ask.

So Micah.  I worked really hard in June and July on retaining those skills he had acquired in kindergarten last year.  Letter recognition.  Number recognition.  Sounds of letters.  Sounding things out.  Sight words.  We read like crazy.  We did flash cards.  We did so good.  So good.

And then crap hit the fan, as you know.  No, I didn't continue on that road.  Because my husband lost his job, I was diagnosed with cancer, and my other son was identified as autistic.  My world crumbled.  And in the midst of all of that total cacophony, Micah lost everything he learned. Everything.

So I wasn't surprised when I was told he qualified for Title 1 help for reading and math.  And I was all for it.  We've been working sooooo hard with him at home, as well.  Working extra-hard on those skills that he needs.  Having him read tons and tons.  Flash cards.  Fixing assignments he didn't understand, even though he won't get credit for them.  Just so that he can understand stuff.

I can see a small improvement as he gets extra help at school and at home, but then on Friday, I got an assignment back from him.  It was sooooo bad that it was really, really funny.  They made a little notebook with four pages.  On each page, he would draw a picture and then write a sentence describing the picture.  What he wrote was soooo...unintelligible, so ludicrous, that I took pictures of them and sent them to Ben, along with the single word, "Um..."

If you don't feel like squinting at these and trying to make out what Micah wrote (and I don't blame you), I'll write what Micah wrote under each picture and what he tells me the words say.

Mi canpA u u if mi tog.
Translation:  My mom dropped me off at the bus.

Slide u if mi fet.
Translation:  Slide with my friend.
Translation:  I'm his friend.

Miutoggca nyGnf At.
Translation:  My dog can run fast.
Translation:  Dad and me fish.
Ben's response to the pictures:

Holy crap.

The man has a way with words.  So yeah, we've got our work cut out for us.  I made Mike do this assignment over again, today, because I'm a Mean Mom.  I had him say what sentence he wanted to write, and then I helped him go through each sound of each word, and what letter makes that sound...he was a total punk about it.  He was kicking up such a fuss that my mom almost lost it with him.  And she never loses it.  Ever.

I gotta be honest - it's crossed my mind more than once that I'd like to slip him like 1/4 of one of my anti-depressants and just see what happens... I won't, but I really, really want to...


Leslie said...

Hi, You don't know me. I know you a little bit. I never comment on blogs, but I just wanted to tell you how amazing I think you and your cute family are! I found your blog while preparing for my Sunday school class a year or so ago. I have been so appreciative that you posted all your fabulous ideas. Every week when I am preparing my lesson I have to check in on you. I appreciate your candor and your positive outlook. Hugs to you and your family. Leslie

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