Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Mother's Guilt Never Ends

We, as parents, want our children to do well at everything they put their hand to.  First it's their milestones, then it's school.

So it was with some dismay when I learned that E's teacher wanted to put her in the early reading program, a program to help her with her reading.  Yes, it's great that she's getting extra help but anything that separates you from the rest of the class is to be singled out.  Not always a good thing.  Plus I didn't think she was doing that badly with her reading although I have no idea how her peers are doing.  Still, I agreed.

Then she was assessed for her speech.  She mixes up her pronouns quite badly and still has some problems with enunciation.  Her other school thought she'd eventually get out of it as she has perfect understanding of the correct way to say things.  However, this school has now assessed her and told me that it's bad habits and it will never go away unless we work on correcting it.  That she is unable or uninterested in learning the names of her teachers and classmates.  That she appears to have no interest in playing with others.  Well, snap. Here I thought she was doing so well.

I have to admit I struggle with E.  I want her to be well liked and have friends. I live in great fear of her being bullied, mainly I guess because it's so prevalent in schools these days and also because my nephew was bullied for years at his school.   It is to that end that I work with her on personal grooming habits and try to instill in her the reasons why we take the time to learn people's names.  Good manners, etc.  It's a balance because I want to teach her without making her feel she's not measuring up.

And then I feel guilty because I never corrected her speech before this.  I loved her E'isms and thought it was cute and figured well.. she'll grow out of it soon enough so why correct her.  As for mixing up her pronouns,  she is always in such a rush to talk and get what it is in her head out that I didn't worry about it.  After all who likes to be corrected in the middle of a story?

While I'd love E to do well academically, I may well have to accept that she may struggle in these areas while she will excel in things like performing, singing and dancing.   She is a vibrant and probably a more creative personality.  Still, I think it's early days yet.  After all, did I not just find an old report card of mine wherein it says "Zeemaid, is having difficulty with her sounds" and here I am a voracious reader and writer extraordinaire. *wink*

Still I think they need to cut her a little slack.  Not only has she just moved here but she now has two teachers, one with a name that I have trouble pronouncing  and 18 new classmates with which to learn their names.  E has a tendency to focus more on the people themselves than what their names are.  For her it's all about what they are interested in and if they want to play.  So I think she tends to overlook and possibly not really pay attention when someone tells her their name.  As for her morning teacher, while the teacher may have had years to get used to saying her name, it can be a tongue twister for 6 year olds.  And she does have friends.  She can name at least three kids that she plays with at break time.  If she doesn't play with them in class then it's because they are not interested in what she's doing.  E likes play time and likes building and creating things.  If the other kids want to do something different, well she will stick with what she's doing.

It's hard for a mom to know her kid is struggling even just a little bit and it's hard to know that making friends isn't always easy for them.  She is a vibrant, caring and fun kid.  It was hard hearing that a bigger kid came up and pushed her from behind, knocking her over while running away laughing.  Even harder still to hear that the big kid ran to the duty first and told them that she had pushed E because E had smacked her in the face.  Which, E didn't do.  E doesn't even know this kid and I know my child, she never would have smacked anyone in the face.  That's just not her personality.  So it's frustrating to know there isn't much I can do about it.  E doesn't want us to interfere at school. She's embarrassed, as if somehow it's all her fault when things aren't going right.  Did I make her feel that way?   Would a new toy help her---and me---feel better? I can't help but wonder.

These are just some of the reason why we decided to get a cat now instead of later.  We really felt E needed a "pick me up" after a few rough days at school and we had promised that once we moved we'd get one.

I told my mom what was going on and my mom said "You're taking it too seriously."

I think she just might be right.  Mothers usually are.


  1. It's hard not to hurt when our children are hurting. I'm not at the stage you're at just my big twins are still in kindergarten but I have started to deal with the "she doesn't want to be my friend anymore" type of stuff. It hurts your heart because you want them to experience only the good in life and not any of the bad stuff.

    I think, to a degree, we can give them the tools they need to make friends, how to keep friends and how to take care of an issue such as a bully or kids making fun of them. It's a good skill for our kids to have because that's how the real world is. We won't always there to hold their hands.

    And who knows, it could just be a phase like you mentioned. I also hated reading when I was younger but now I love it. I'm even a speed reader. Who knew?

    So just keep doing what you're doing...she sounds like a wonderful little girl.

  2. We have to take it seriously, to stand up for our kids.

    Kids can grow by leaps and bounds at this age, so it's hard to know what is an area of concern.

  3. I know this might not be possible, but I wonder if you could volunteer at the school for a couple hours and keep an eye on things and check the pulse of the situation. I think you're doing a wonderful job as a mother. I know it's hard not to take everything seriously. The teachers don't think Evan's ready for kindergarten because of his social skills. The kid has no sense of personal space. Whatever. He'll learn. I could suggest other things that may help, but I'm sure you're doing all you can. I'm sure E will get into the swing of things soon.

  4. I'm sorry your daughter is having a tough time at school, and I"m sorry it weighs so heavy on your heart. I'm not a mom yet so I say the following with a huge disclaimer that I might not have any idea.

    1) Many times you can have speech therapy done privately or at home instead of in school. If you can show the school that she is going, many insurances will cover these therapies, its just a bit of a scheduling thing with being there after school. It might take the stigma away from being pulled out of class while still strengthening skills that are important for reading and life.

    2) Part of what I think is hugely important growing up is knowing you have your parents as back up,, that they are your best ally and supporter even if you are still learning right from wrong. The truth is you cannot protect her from every mean kid all the time, but you can help her learn how to take the comments in stride and not carry them around forever (life lesson I'm at 30 still working on), and you can teach her that sometimes people do mean things but that doesnt make them mean people. You could enroll her in Karate or Tae Kwon Do, where it fosters peace instead of violence but also gives her tools to feel confident and not 'picked on'.

    Please feel free to disregard anything I said, as I am not a mom yet so I cant imagine the guilt/thoughts your feeling. But with a degree in speech pathology I can tell you this much,, therapy can only help, not hurt and some skills take time to develop so you feeling guilty that you didnt start her earlier may not be necessary at earlier she may have been doing just fine but now they see more potential that they want to tap into!

  5. I know in life I won't always be able to protect my kids, but I will always WANT to. And I will hurt when I can't. Thinking of you!

  6. just to clarify, of course I think we should stand up for our kids, My mom meant I was taking what they said about E's speech etc too seriously. E is just fine.

    THanks for the suggestions. All very good. At schools here parents don't volunteer the same way as in the US. WE only get to come when there is a field trip or something like that. We can do fundraising etc but not usually in class stuff.

  7. I am a mom of kids who have been in speech and a certified teacher, so I kinda feel obligated to chime in, but my comments come with the disclaimer of "listen to your gut." I have found that, when it comes to my own kids, my mommy instincts are usually right on target.

    That said, for the bully, trust your kid. If you know your kid wouldn't do something like that, then stick up for her. You've taught her good manners and wonderful friendship skills, they should be thanking you, so many kids today don't have even those and it's discouraging.

    She's only 6, so while the school is trying to get ahead of potential problems, I agree with your outlook. You said you're new to the area and the school. Perhaps some of E's problems stem from the newness and not so much a problem that needs intervention yet. I would suggest asking the school to hold off on formal evaluations and such until she's had more time to get acclimated to her new surroundings. You don't have to sign agreements for testing and things like that if you don't agree with them, that's your right as a parent.

    Check with your school district to see if there is a parent advocate available, some have them and some don't. Also, talk to your family doctor, sometimes they can help in situations like this. Best of luck to you.


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