Sunday, October 25, 2015

the Joy of Finally Going To The Trouble Of

My to-do list is always a mile long.  I can barely get all of the "musts" done, let alone the optional "but it would make me happy" stuff.  I typically find myself spending more money than I should on things that I need, because it solves the problem quickly.  It strikes me that you either need a lot of time, or a lot of money, in order to keep up in the crazy pace of America..  Or maybe you need better organizational skills than I possess.

Anyway, I often find that when I finally go to the trouble of doing some of the things that have been lingering on my to do list, my life is easier, lighter, better in some small way, and I think "why didn't't I do that sooner?!"

Which brings us to The Girl on TheTrain.  I have wanted to read it for months, but I refused to buy it, because we live near an awesome public library, and they had a million copies.  Only, there was a long wait list, and I hadn't figured out how to add myself.  And I hadn't managed to figure out the digital lending thing either (are you sensing a theme?).  But then I read this blog post by Julia, and I was inspired to try to finally get myself set up digitally, and it took all of ten minutes to set it up and put myself on the waitList.  And I was number two!  And time flew by, and now it's my turn, and with a quick click, the book is mine all mine.

Ten minutes.  Why didn't't I get to this sooner?

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Festival

I had Friday off from work.  We had received multiple flyers touting the school "festival," which was also supposed to function as a fundraiser for field trips.  Of course, they only gave us about a week's notice, and they wanted us to make food.  Not just any food, but rather food that was representative of our heritage.  This amused me.  We are from northern New England.  What is our "heritage" food? Shellfish?  I asked the girls what they wanted to bring, and one said macaroni and cheese, and the other said cake, so that is what we brought.  Hey, it was homemade Mac 'n cheese!

We were also invited to a lunch with SB's class.  There were supposed to be games that you could pay to play, with morning events and afternoon ones.  Anyway, when we got there with our food, I discovered that only two people from Miss M's class had brought anything, and one item was fruit cups from the store.  There were few or any parents there.  sB's class was a bit better--most parents had brought something, but only three or four were actually present.  I began to wonder how the fundraiser was going to work, without parents present to pay for games.  It turned out that there were not any games.  The classes went into several other classrooms for a few minutes, but they did things like read books and watch a video about fall.  It was really disorganized.

Then we got to lunch.  In addition to bringing the food, we had to pay $7 to eat the food with our kids!  I was a little put off.  We were invited to a lunch and asked to bring something for a potluck.  Then, the teacher had our kids' art and photos everywhere, and she expected us to buy everything.  She went so far as to take the photos and approach me when I didn't immediately open my wallet.  I ended up shelling out $25 for the day, which was fine, but there are a lot of low income students at the school.  Our preschool teacher seemed to be driving the whole thing, and I don't know what she was thinking.  She also gave my husband a hard time for not contributing more.

Anyway, it was super disorganized, but it gave me a chance to see SB in school all day.  It was hard to see, but helpful.  She's not herself at all.  Rather, she was sad and anxious all morning, even with me there.  She was terrified that I was going to leave her, even after I had reassured her that I was staying all day.  She was a bit tearful.  In short, she was not my exuberant, happy handful of a child at all.  I quickly could see why.  Her teacher is cruel.  She's not working with her at all--she's beating her down.  At one point early on, SB didn't want to sit on the rug with the other kids, and the teacher told her that if she didn't behave, I was going to leave!  I was completely horrified.

In the afternoon, there were supposed to be more activities, but the teacher put all of the kids down for nap time, and then didn't wake them up for over two hours!!  It's no wonder SB has been up until 9 every night.  T had mentioned to me that the kids have still been napping at 3 a few times when he's gone to pick her up.  The teacher is clearly letting them sleep too long.  It certainly makes her job easier.  But SB hadn't napped in months before starting school, because she was not sleeping at night.

I kept her up at school, since I was there, thinking that the kids would only sleep an hour and we would do afternoon activities as we're on the schedule.  Nope.  The teacher had the kids sleep until 3, then woke them up when it was time to go home.  I would have just taken SB and left, had I known, but I also needed to collect Miss M, and her class was actually doing work.  Instead, SB and I read books and played games.  Finally, it had dragged on too long, and SB started to whine a little.  Her teacher started to lecture her.  I had had enough at that point, and I cut her off.  "She's bored," I said.  The teacher actually seemed surprised.  "Oh.  Well, she can paint."  So, that's what she happily did for the rest of the day.

I don't think I am capturing it well here--the teacher's indifference, her lack of patience, her sanctimonious lecturing of both T and I throughout the day about how she's using positive reinforcement and behavior modification "to great success."  SB is afraid of her.  Period.  There is no warm, nurturing relationship there.  I'm not sure what she is saying and doing when we are not there, but it is not anything a true professional would recognize as "positive reinforcement".  Her teacher, it is clear to me now, is a bully.

After watching the other kids all day, I'm sure my kid is her toughest.  She is VERY high energy (indeed, some of the other kids appeared lethargic in comparison--and this is a class of 3 year olds).  But there are a few other kids who are in the same realm, and it takes a talented, patient soul to harness and channel all of that energy.  Which she is not.  It's not so much, though, that SB is a "bad" kid (and I hate that word--these are three year olds!), as much as she is a busy kid who needs to be engaged.  Without a task, she can be unruly.  The teacher doesn't seem to grasp that.

Anyway, today the kids have no school, because we have parent teacher conferences.  I can hardly wait to hear what SB's teacher has to say.  I am still deciding how to approach it.  I think I am probably going to politely give her a piece of my mind, but I sort of feel like this may be beyond fixing.  The real problem is that it is next to impossible to secure a preschool slot around here, so we are lacking good options.  Plus, I love the PK4 and K teachers, so I wonder if we should ride it out and see what we can do to work with this teacher.  I'll have a better sense later today.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Why Hello There

Has it really been since July?!  What can I in America is so...busy.  At first it was nice to be back in the land of Target and jarred tomato sauce, but it's only been four months, and I am exhausted!  Our life abroad has such a different pace.  American work hours are uncivilized.

And things at home have been challenging.  sB has had a very rocky move.  LOTS of behavior issues...tantrums, screaming at us, hitting us.  It's been hugely distressing, and makes me so sad for her.  She was really starting to internalize that she was "naughty," because we were doing so many timeouts.  But then, mercifully, school started, and we signed up for a parenting class to teach us some new tricks, and between the two, it seems to be getting a bit better.

The only thing is that her teacher is quite strict, and she does not really like her.  It is really sad to hear a three year old tell me that she want to go back to her old school and old teacher in our old city. Which happens very frequently.  So, we are hanging in there for now, but I worry about her being the "bad" kid, even if things are a bit better. Her teacher is not nurturing at all, and frequently sends us passive aggressive texts about our parenting skills.  No joke.  She seems to think we neither discipline  nor use positive reinforcement at home.  Sigh.  I think she's kind of a jerk.  So, I'm contemplating moving her. I don't want her to develop a dread or dislike of school because of teachers who find her a nuisance, nor do I want her to internalize any more than she has the negative stuff about her behavior.  On the other hand, learning to live with a situation you don't love is an important life skill, and I think it is causing her to grow.  I just wish her teacher was more nurturing.  So, I go back and forth.  Given how much we move, I'm also reluctant to change schools again.  They've had enough change for this year.

Miss M appears to be thriving in her class.  Oddly, she's a bit behind in reading comprehension.  They recommended we read at home more, but we've literally been reading to her every day since she was a baby, so that's not the issue.  I guess we've never quizzed her on what she was taking away from the stories.  Once I started doing that, I saw their point.  She focuses on what is of interest to her, rather than what another person might see as the main plot. it's rather endearing, and I'm sure we can straighten it out in short order.  Otherwise, she's learning a ton and doing well.

And me...I really like my job, but there is too much of it.  I have not taken a day off since we got here.  Tomorrow is my first day off.  I'm going to the kids school for a festival.  It should be fun.