Personally, I can't get through a day without a little hairy eyeball.

Thanks, y'all, for your comments.

It's so hard to walk the line of advocacy vs. ... ... over protectiveness? over sensitivity? (over identification?) over reaction?

I don't want Bean to think that every time she encounters adversity or has a hard time with authority that it's okay to do her own thing without regard for others or that mommy (or daddy) will intervene on her behalf at the slightest sign of discord. But I also want her to know that I'm her advocate; that I think she's (to borrow a phrase of Kelly's that I love) pure magic; that I don't expect her to surrender who she is and what she wants to do simply because it's easier for her teachers (now or in the future) to try to force her to be like everyone else.

(Can you tell I was - probably still am - a bit of a rebel myself?)

I talked with the school Director a little yesterday a.m., mostly to get her input on brainstorming a solution. I dropped Bean off before, and she was resistant to going into her room, bypassing it entirely for the fab Miss Kate's room. Miss Kate was delighted to see her, and raved about how much she had enjoyed Bean's marching to her own drummer and that she missed her and wished she could have her in the class she teaches. If only. Miss Kate teaches their half-day program, and any hope I had of maybe sneaking Bean in there for the first half of the day faded when Kate said her M/W/F class is full.

She volunteered to let Bean stay with her so I could go talk to the Director, and Bean was thrilled.

My talk went well, but didn't really give me much more to go on/work with than what Bean and I had already discussed.

I talked with her teacher at the end of the day, and just got the same kind of "she needs to conform to our expectations" vibe. They insist that Bean has to lay quiet and still for an hour *without* reading or doing anything. If she can do that, then she can read. I still think that's unreasonable. For whatever reason, she won't nap in there unless she's exhausted (she napped yesterday after the 5:30 wake up) and asking her to just lay there, doing nothing, for an hour seems like a recipe for disaster.

Her teachers and I aren't going to see eye to eye on this one, I don't think. To me it just feels like they're doing this "because I said so" approach. But I'm reading one of my "your kid isn't just a pain in the rear for funsies, she might be gifted" books and it's telling me that I should be deferring to authority as an example ... I wasn't having as hard a time with it in her last class, because their approach was more "how can we adapt to her?" not this "she must adapt to us" mentality.

The teacher keeps throwing "well, when she's in kindy" out; the Director, however, told me flat-out that's not cool - Bean's 4 and it's September - if it was April or May, she'd be more accepting of the "getting them ready for kindy" mindset. So my internal resistance to that at least sees validation there ...

And her teacher told me she said to Bean "well, if you do that you won't be allowed to go to kindy" because Bean's always talking about how she wants to go to kindy, and how she needs to concentrate and learn so she's ready. It's not horrible, I know, but it still rubs me wrong that she says that to Bean.

The teacher also said "she's kicking us when we lay across her to hold her down" ... wha, wha, what?? Like I said, I get that Bean running around is bad, but this ain't the solution ...

Man, this is so hard. I'm fighting my own innate "f*ck authority" streak (I'm the girl who brings home a hand towel from every hotel just because I can and because I'm not supposed to), my defensiveness of my kiddo, my hatred for the whole "system" that by virtue of necessity, I guess, disadvantages kids that are outside the Bell curve. And with all of that the knowledge that I've got to somehow *not* teach her to resist authority any more than she already does or to reel just for rebellion's sake. You're right, Vivian and Julia, that there will always be a system. either she nor I have to like it, but we both need to operate within it.

Even if I happen think a world run by Bean would be way better than the world she's got to fit herself into.


Jenny said...

Wait a minute..they make her lay there for an hour doing nothing before they will let her read?? Am I reading that correctly? said...

They HOLD her down?!! The hell? Oh Vick, that is not, not, not ok (unless she's causing harm to herself or others, and I'm assuming that's not at all the case). Of course she's going to kick them, she knows she shouldn't be held down. *I* feel like kicking them after reading this.

Follow your instincts. It is absolutely appropriate for you and her dad to intervene on her behalf at her age.

Julia said...

Frankly I am a little bit shocked that the school would have Bean lie there for an hour. Are the owners aware of this? Most places that I toured (and I could have sworn this school too) said that older kids who don't nap have some kind of quiet activity. I'm always amazed that 4 yr olds nap anyhow, but I guess that's relative to my kid giving up the nap before 3.

I suppose one thing you should figure out regarding how much to give into the system is if Bean DOES give in, what *exactly* is she losing in the way of individuality. Is it a thumb your nose at the cop kind of rebellion, or is there truly a core part of her spirit that is crushed.

I've had this conversation before when working with parents and counselors in writing up IEPs (individualized education plans) for special ed kids (gifted ones especially), and the parents were mostly wrapped up in one event versus the whole picture. I'm not suggesting that you are doing that, but it sometimes helps to be reminded to step back and look at the big picture. What percentage of her day is she allowed to express herself versus how much time is she asked to conform to "standards?"

I have the exact opposite "problem," thinking that the system will overlook my bright child because she doesn't speak up for herself. It really is too bad we can't take a little bit of Bean magic and have that sprout in C and get some of C's pony dead eyes in public situations into Bean.

Dawn said...

Well, hmm. This is really bugging me. I mean, I am by no means a rebel or a "buck the system" kind of girl, but I find it extremely concerning that they would expect a 4 yr old to sit still and do nothing for a whole hour. Do they know nothing of early childhood development? First of all, if she's not sleeping, I can't see how, in any way shape or form, it can be healthy or good for her to just sit for that long. I would never, ever expect any child to just sit and stare for more than maybe 5 minutes. People (not just children) just aren't wired that way. Mentally, I just can't see how it could even remotely be beneficial, and physically, well it's ridiculous.

I think I would challenge the teacher to sit and stare for an hour and see how she likes it.

And hold her down?!? What the Hell for? What's next, a straight jacket? Seriously, I would have a BIG problem with that.

Does the entire school nap at the same time? If not, could she possibly go to another class at nap time - perhaps as a "peer helper" for the littles or to do some advanced learning with the bigger kids??? I just don't understand why they won't budge on this. If they won't let her read or color or something, they need to let her go elsewhere.

And honestly, I really don't understand why they won't let her just color or read. Seriously, how hard is it to put her at a table and work quietly?

Maybe I am missing something, but the whole thing is effed up.

Sorry Vick.

Vivian said...

WHAT?!!!? Hold her down!? That is OUTRAGEOUS! Unless she is a danger to herself or others that is completely absolutely inappropriate. Trust me on this, if was a danger they wouldn't be talking to you about napping. OK. (deep breath... I can be a bit of a hot head.)Laying down for an hour without an activity is a lot to ask an adult never mind a four year old.

I agree with Julia, there is a big picture of Bean's magic self learning to work within the system sometimes, you may need to take a look at. Still, I have concerns about an environment which would go to such extremes to get her to *conform*.

The bottom line is Bean is lucky to have you as her advocate. I wouldn't worry about being overprotective. You trust these people with your daughter. They have the charge of caring for her, educating her. You should be able to go to work without worry or concerns for her care, at the very least her care.

Good luck ,Vick.

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