Posts Tagged With: individualism

new year

As the new school year fast approaches (tomorrow!!) I see all sorts of “advice” or “rules” posts and articles that people have written for their children. Some are gender specific, some are grade specific, some are neither. Mine is BoyGenius specific. You might find some nuggets of wisdom in it, you might not.

My dear son, as you start this next chapter in your academic life as you head into grade 5 (seriously!??!) there are some things I want to tell you; some things you need to know. Guess what —- they are not much different than the things I told you at the start of last year, or even throughout grade 4, or 3. Take them to heart, or at least try to remember little snippets of them now and again:

  • don’t be afraid to be smart; don’t be afraid to let your smarts show
  • be respectful of others; friends, teachers, administrators, coaches
  • have fun — in the classroom, on the playground, at lunch
  • don’t let your smarts or the silliness and fun get in the way of learning
  • try not to be too frustrated when you realize that others don’t know the things you do or don’t think the way you do
  • don’t be rude
  • try to keep focused on the task at hand — if you can’t, then try to figure out why and if there is something you can do to make it better; if you need help with your focus, don’t be afraid to ask
  • stay true to yourself; you are a sweet sensitive boy with a fantastic understanding of “fairness” — please don’t give that up, as hard and as heartbreaking as it may seem to hold onto
  • come to me; remember that you can tell me anything and I won’t ever love you any less
  • if something is keeping you from learning and/or doing your best let your teacher know; if it’s the teacher, let the Mama know; marks and grades are far less important to me than you might think — you learning and loving it much more so
  • eat all of your lunch
  • write as neatly as you can
  • if you are bored please tell someone other than your friends, like me or Mommy or your teacher
  • you have every right to question anything you are being taught; please just remember to be polite and respectful when you do so, especially if pointing out mistakes or misinformation to your teacher
  • remember, Mama welcomes the dreaded “note home” from the teacher so never let that scare you
  • you and I together, kiddo, are a force worth reckoning with; I will advocate for you until the cows come home — maybe even after that — probably, yeah
  • practice your times table
  • if something or someone makes you feel uncomfortable, walk away; don’t let people suck you into doing stupid things — we’ve talked about this, remember? (Mike Hunt is not a real person. My apologies to all of the real Mike Hunts out there.)
  • keep climbing trees
  • I love you, so does Mommy
keep climbing, baby!

keep climbing, baby!

Wow, that turned out to be a long list, a lot of advice. Like I said, at least try to remember snippets of it here and there. Sure, it’s all important, but if you have this list then you don’t need to memorize it. Neither do I.

(I reserve the right to modify, expand or shrink this list at any time now or in the future, in perpetuity and forever, to infinity and beyond.)

Categories: family, parenting, Uncategorized, words | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

one bad apple CAN spoil the whole bunch

Grade One. Every parent’s dream. BoyGenius’ only concerns about Grade One were 1) “there’s no Lego in the classroom” and B) “they’re going to make me do math.” He wasn’t completely chuffed about full days of school as opposed to half days but still seemed okay with it. Class lists go up, he’s in a split 1 / 2, with a teacher that I didn’t really know. When I asked those parents who did know of her, I didn’t get a very warm feeling. Still, we thought, he’ll be fine.  What could possibly go wrong in Grade One?

What was I thinking? What could possibly go wrong in Grade One? Let me see. Migraines. Inability to sleep through the night. Separation anxiety. Anxiety! Total loss of interest in school. Full on desire for homeschooling … in his words, “right through to university.” Poor academic performance. Personality change from Mr. Social to Wallflower. All in a matter of weeks. HardWorker and I were at our wits’ end. What the heck was going on? My gorgeous son was a wreck. BoyGenius’ Grade One teacher had been off the year before due to health issues. She started his Grade One year teaching part-time; she was back full-time at the end of October.  By the end of November BG’s life was a disaster zone. We asked him if anyone was bothering him at school. Nope. Did he like his teacher? Yup,  she’s “nice enough but she does yell a lot.” We got notes home saying BG was easily distracted and needed help finishing his work; couldn’t come up with story ideas. Every week, the same notes.

I approached our school’s head of Special Education. I didn’t know what else to do. She advised she would observe the class and “see where the difficulty is being generated.” After one visit she advised that she was no longer observing, she was stepping in. My education angel took BoyGenius out every day for weeks and spent time with him in the sensory and gross-motor rooms, settling him into his work upon returning him to class. It was grand. He was, if not exactly happy again, at least less resistant to the idea of school. Report cards came home in February (well, to be honest, BoyGenius’ report card went missing and didn’t come home when everyone else’s did) . BG was sick with worry (again) and didn’t want to go to school anymore. His report was pretty good, but he told me — through tears — that anything under an A was bad.

His report card said he would be “encouraged to write in complete sentences” and to work on his reading. Now I knew that these reports are just forms with drop-down boxes so I sent a note to his teacher asking just how he was going to be encouraged to do these things. After not getting a reply for almost two weeks I spoke with our SERT (special education resources teacher) again and remarkably got a call from the teacher the very next day, setting a meeting for the next day after that. BG’s teacher wanted to give me materials to allow me to work with him at home. I explained that he could read and write just fine at home and wondered what they would be doing for him in class. His teacher asked me how he liked the homework calendar/notebook that came home. I truthfully said “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Apparently this was something that she had instituted a couple of weeks before our meeting .. but also apparently it didn’t matter that my son had never once brought homework back to school during those two weeks. She gave me a notebook and a calendar to take home. She said she had done a running record with him that afternoon; she reluctantly raised his reading level two steps. She said he struggled with comprehension on the lower level but was okay with it on the higher level story. Our SERT asked what the two stories were about and pointed out that he didn’t care what happened in the first one because it was about getting to school on time and BG didn’t even want to be at school. His teacher said he had problems with his “middle sounds” in words and that might be contributing to his reading issues. Our SERT did a running record with him the day after this meeting and amazingly his reading level jumped 4 steps … she wanted to go further but his teacher disagreed. The SERT put him on a computer program that she usually only started in grade two and found he breezed through about twenty levels and said he had no issues whatsoever with reading, pronunciation or comprehension. So what was the problem?

I started making BoyGenius’ issues general knowledge to any parent who would listen. They didn’t believe what they heard — not BoyGenius, he was “the coolest kid in Kindergarten!” I found that there were indeed a number of other parents who were experiencing challenges with their children in this same class. They all bickered and complained in the yard but only one other mother followed through with the administration. Others said “it’s too late now, it’s already March,” or “I don’t want any backlash from the teacher towards my child” or my personal favourite, “we’re just treating this year as a write-off.” Grade One — a write-off.

I did go to the principal. I did write a letter and have a face to face meeting. I did demand that something be done. I did put in a formal request for BoyGenius’ Grade Two placement. I did point out to the principal that the primary grades are the foundation for students’ educational careers and if they couldn’t be sucked into the culture of learning in those first three years then heaven help their teachers for the next ten. I did put the school on notice for the emotional well-being of my child. I did let them know that while I am definitely my son’s strongest advocate, I was appalled that I had to bring these issues to their attention when they should have been in contact with me since they saw him in this environment every day.

I did bring about a change. While BoyGenius’ Grade One teacher is still there, still teaching a 1 / 2 split, still being unable to exercise much control over what goes on in her classroom, the students she has this year are having a better time of it than those who had her last year. She is being more closely monitored by the administration, has apparently taken some direction. I feel less afraid and more happy for the grade ones she has this year.

What about BoyGenius, you ask? How is Grade Two? Night and day, my friends. He skips or dances to school every morning. He entertains. He is a “joy to have in the classroom” and quite frankly, back to being his brilliant self. He is apparently a natural leader as well as being one of the class clowns. He loves school, brings home one perfect math quiz after another and has the most diverse collection of books in his book box. His February report brought tears to my eyes and warmth to my soul. And he’s still complaining that there’s no Lego in the classroom.

Categories: family | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

BoyGenius. Normal? No. Perfect? Yes, he is.

For the purposes of this blog and my facebook page I call my son BoyGenius.  He would probably get mad at me if I called him this at home.  HardWorker occasionally (very lovingly) calls him Smarty Pants since he’s smarter than us sometimes and he absolutely hates it.  He just turned 8 the other day and I’m still having a hard time believing a) that he’s already been here for eight years and 2) that he’s only been here for eight years.

BoyGenius is NT, which stands for neuro-typical.  If you’ve never heard of this designation it’s probably because your kids are NT, or what people refer to in layman’s terms as “normal.”  Do I think BoyGenius is “normal?”  No.  No, I don’t.  I don’t say this lightly.  I’m not bragging.  I’m not looking for any type of “diagnosis” for my child.  I just have to question what people think of when they say normal.

Truthfully, I would love to think that BoyGenius is “normal.”  I would love if the way he thinks and acts (most of the time for behaviour) could be used as a “normal” example.  I think the world would be a better place if that were the case.  Since the time he was a baby he has been considerate.  He was sensitive.  He was funny and he understood funny.  He was an individual.  He was smart and clever.  BoyGenius still is all of these things.  You’re thinking, “of course that’s normal” and, “she is so bragging.”  Let me give you the breakdown on some of these:

  • considerate – as a baby, BoyGenius slept when he was tired.  You’re thinking “so what? so do all babies.”  No, they don’t.  He slept.  In the car.  In the stroller.  In shopping carts.  He didn’t care where he was and if I had to move him from the car to the stroller or a shopping cart he would open his eyes, smile at me and go right back to sleep.  I was never shackled to the house by nap times.  When he was just over two, his best friend got a baby sister.  He admonished his best friend for being too noisy when the baby was sleeping.  He would make sure the baby had toys and would return them to the baby when her big sister/his best friend took them away from her.
  • sensitive – BoyGenius has always gotten upset over things being ‘unfair.’  Now lots of kids will say “that’s not fair” when it means they don’t get what they think they should be getting.  BoyGenius thinks in terms of other kids getting what he gets.  He gives his favourite toys (Lego minifigures, Rescue Heroes and their vehicles) to his friends of his own volition.  Don’t get me wrong, he will hold onto his favourites to the death if we try to purge toys but if others don’t have, he will give.  He will stand up for his friends before standing up for himself.
  • individual – in junior Kindergarten BoyGenius started mismatching his shoes, on purpose.  Airwalk on the left, Converse on the right.  Three days later, he’d switch to the matching, opposite pair.  When he was three he decided he should start wearing one glove.  And believe me when I tell you he had not yet ever seen Michael Jackson.  In senior Kindergarten he decided that he could also mismatch his socks .. but they would still match:  both be striped; be from the same set but be different colours; be totally different socks but be the same brand.  Also in SK he decided to grow his hair long; he was five and had the long flowing locks of a rock star.  He decided to cut it one summer and he has decided to grow it long again.  He wears leotards (he calls them long socks) because he likes them.

So you’re reading this and you’re still thinking that I’m just bragging on my kid.  Or that I’m not a very good parent.  Or that he sounds perfectly normal.  Or all of those things.

Well let me tell you, I spend a lot of time in BoyGenius’ school and around many other children.  He’s not “normal.”  Apparently “normal” is a brush cut or a faux-hawk, fighting with friends and hitting, looking out for ‘number 1,’ never sharing what you have, grey socks and of course matching shoes.  I have been told that he’s too sensitive and needs to be toughened up.  I have been told that I should take my “perfect baby and go” somewhere else.  I have been asked why we don’t make him wear a real pair of shoes.  I have been told by at least 12 different dads that they’ll cut his hair for him, oh and of course no son of theirs would ever have hair like that.  Those things get my back up.  I shouldn’t let them, but I can’t help it.  I might seem to get a little defensive.  Remarkably, I have also been told (by a dad) that BoyGenius was always “the coolest kid in Kindergarten.”

So, BoyGenius.

Normal?  No.

Perfect?  Yes, he is.

Categories: family | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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