Sunday, April 21, 2013

Back to School!

September 2010

I'm surprised I was even able to log back into this blog! It has been way too long and even though I have been to North Alabama and taught 2 zumba classes back to back, I knew I had to get in here and write!

Starting first grade and getting back into a routine has been quite difficult for Miss Priss this go 'round. We had such a great kindergarten experience; I guess I expected 1st grade to as well or better. Mrs. Sisk did an excellent job preparing the kids for 1st grade. Ellie knew that it would be a new ballgame but for some reason the thought of homework has really stressed this kid out! For the first 2 weeks she went on and on about homework (even though she didn't have any). She came home everyday talking about how hard 1st grade is and how she wanted to go back to kindergarten. She tried and tried to get out of class. She did overheat on the second day of school and I had to go pick her up, but the next couple of trips to the nurse's office had more to do with anxiety. She came home from school one day and informed Lamar and me that she had been "unconscious" at school that day. Of course I questioned her (I think the school would have called)...she clarified by saying "A-conscious"...again I didn't understand. Lamar translated and what she meant was that she was "anxious".

Back to school anxiety is normal so we expected it to pass. We were very disappointed to learn that Ellie's teacher would be out for a week and a half due to health concerns. She was expected to be back on the 30th, so I tried not to worry. Something told me that she would not be back but I kept hope alive. The week and a half felt like a month. Ellie cried everyday and complained of a stomach-ache. She also talked about the mean boys in her class and even called them bullies. Ellie is known to be a little dramatic so I didn't freak out. I tried to be there for her by taking her school when I could and eating lunch with her. The first time I drove her was dreadful. She did not want to go to school and asked if I would check her out. I had already explained the law, so she prefaced the request by saying "I know it's against the law if I don't go to school..."and then rolled her eyes. The next time she asked to be a car rider I said "yes, but if you whine all the way to school, I'm not going to want to drive you again". Now that probably sounds awful, but at least it was honest. I was so over the drama. More than that, I was tired of not knowing how to make my child happy. That's all we really want for them, right? So, the next time I drove her she was better. We made it all the way to Sam Lilly without a complaint and she just couldn't stand it. She said that she had 1 thing to say and of course it was that she did not want to go to school. I let her elaborate a little and she talked about a new boy in class and how she hoped he wouldn't be there that day. She said he was mean and a bully. Then she said "is it ok if I pray right here, right now"? Of course I wanted her to pray for me to have more patience, but instead she prayed for that boy not to be there. I told her that a better thing to ask for is kindness from him and not that he would go back to wherever he came from.....

Through it all, Ellie has been very willing to talk it out. She has even cried out for help, literally. One of kids in her class announced to the class that "Ellie is crying again...." The substitute teacher explained that sometimes girls just need to cry sometimes. She then asked the other girls if they ever just feel like crying. I have a feeling that group therapy followed....
A couple of days later when Ellie tried to go to the nurse office, the sub. told her no and with no where else to go, Ellie went to the office. Thankfully Mrs. Sisk was on her break and saw that Ellie was having a tough time. She took Ellie back to her classroom and let her hang out for a while. I asked Ellie what they talked about and she just said the Mrs. Sisk prayed for her. I'm sure Ellie requested that. I was just glad that Mrs Sisk was there for her. I'm sure it helped Ellie understand that even though you can't go back to kindergarten you can at least visit!

Still, no matter what I did or said, Ellie was worried about everything. she told me on a daily basis that her stomach hurt and that she was worried. I asked her if there was anything about school that she liked. She started to sob and said "Do you know what the best part of school is?" I thought she was about to say recess or lunch, but instead she said "Dismissal!" It was a Steel Magnolia moment when you laugh and cry at the same time. She was so distraught, yet humorous. Bless that child's heart. She walks around full of sass, but is probably the most sensitive child I have ever known. Finally on the third Friday I asked her if I needed to make her an appointment with Dr. Gleason or her Guidance Counselor. I thought she would say "sure" and that would appease her for the weekend. Instead she asked me several times if I was going to make the appointments. At first I thought she was more excited about getting to check out of school or getting out of the classroom. But then when I really thought about it I knew that something wasn't right. I knew that I needed to speak to the counselor but I wanted to do it on my own without it being a big deal. So I did, and over the course of the week, things improved tremendously. I learned a lot that week, especially when I went to lunch with Ellie and left the school in tears. I got to see a few of the kids in action. It was mostly the boys, but they were all pretty wound up. One little boy walked up to me and said "you have an ugly face". Another one pretended to smoke and talked about wanting to fight. And yet another got in Ellie's personal space and was "giving her the business" about something. I was walking back from the tray return and only saw him in her face with his chest bowed out. At that point I knew what Ellie had been so stressed out and I felt like Mother of the Year- NOT!

Ellie's teacher is not coming back and they have already found her replacement. It's a teacher that the kids are already know. She has subbed for many of the kindergarten classes and has plenty of teaching experience. We've received more communication in the past 2 days than we have the first 4 weeks. Ellie and I both have better feelings about 1st grade! And I will definitely be keeping an eye out for the bullies!

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