Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The next step..

I am still angry at myself. Angry that I trusted my youngest in the care of the preschool she was in. I need to work through my feelings, but every session with a psychologist, more and more comes out about how incompetently everything was handled. So if you read this, take from my experience and if you see any of these signs in a preschool, RUN. Find another placement as soon as possible.

I am not saying my child is easy. She is my tough one. She is clever but emotional. She in strong willed and very active. If she can control a situation, she will. Her behaviors were not appropriate, but should have been easily controlled.

Every Preschool should have a behavior plan. It should lay out what the steps are for unwanted behaviors. For example, hitting or biting the first time will be a time out, second a time out and all home, third a suspention. This lets parents know there is a clear policy. If not, it is at the whim of the director on who will be worked with and who will be dismissed outright. It also gives teachers a tool on how to redirect negative behaviors and correct the situation. Some teachers, especially in a state where you do not need more than a high school education to work in a preschool classroom, do not have the tools in their toolbox to work with all children. A competent director should be able to help them find the tools they need.

Never, ever, ever let a teacher or director  try to hand you a diagnosis. If anything like Aspergers, Autsim, etc comes out of their mouths to describe your child, know that what they are doing is unethical, and if in a public school it is illegal. If they do push testing on you, tell them nicely that you need them, as a professional, to observe your child in the classroom and fill out a Connor or Brief-P. If they say they are unwilling or do not have the time, they are unwilling to do their job. Well, I am hoping that what happened to us was because the director was lazy. Anyway, no one is qualified to diagnosis your child who is not a psychologist. Some people will attend a seminar and automatically start taking it upon themselves to start labeling people. You know your child better than anyone else. Instead of trying to figure out what the catalyst of the behaviors were, I was told I needed to start testing for Serena THE FIRST WEEK OF SCHOOL. I made a behavior analysis for them to use in the classroom, because as a teacher I was taught that everything needs to be documented, and you, as the adult, can modify and control the behavior if you understand what the catalyst is. If you do not get to the base of a problematic behavior, it will get worse. Our job as adults is to guide children, at home and in the classroom. Not all kids are easy. If you don't feel up to the job, maybe you are in the wrong profession. Trust me, I was a teacher, I know that you sometimes get really difficult kids. Sometimes it is hard to find out what is the catalyst for a behavior, but hey, that's part of teaching.

When the teachers went to the director for help, she, as the educated professional in the building, should have been able to guide them.

If your child does not like going to school, try to find out why. For us, we found out that Serena felt her teachers hated her. She overheard the director and a teacher discussing her (yup, how professional is that, talking about a child in front of that child) sometime in the first 2 weeks of school. This and the reactions to her behaviors led to a lot of frustration, and she took that frustration out in the classroom. This explains why her behaviors were limited to that environment. Children need an environment where they not only feel safe, but also liked as a person. At 4, what would you do if you felt the adults hated you as a person?

Also, make sure the staff is willing to put things in writing. In a public school,we have to document everything. It makes it easier for everyone involved.

Now we are dealing with other moms, who I really don't know but went to the school, asking about Rena because the director told them what happened. It sucks having to explain yes, we were expelled but no, Serena does not have any of the issues she is telling people she has. This is the most unprofessional aspect of the whole situation.

We were there this year for barely 5 weeks. 5 weeks. That amazes me. To help us all heal, we also left the church. I don't care if it is almost an hour drive, we are now attending the nearest Orthodox Church. I am Orthodox, the girls are Orthodox. My husband is Lutheran, and we thouht the church was a nice compromise. But I can not keep going into that building. The pastor, who was at the meeting and knew we were hurt, never bothered to call or ask if we were OK after the fact. The expultion meeting was unnessasary anyway. If the director was competent, she would have had a behavior plan. Barring that, she could have written us a letter, handed it to me that day and not involved the pastor. In the meeting, she said she talked to "professionals" who told her she was not equipped to handle a special needs child like Serena. She was the one who decided to diagnosis Serena as special needs. We had barely started testing when she threw her out.

Unfortunately, doing what is right is not always what is easy, and when you work with children, especially young children, the damage done can have a lifelong effect on that youth. A good preschool is willing to work with parents. A good preschool has a plan in place that outlines for parents what will happen when there are behavior issues. A good preschool keeps high ethical standards. A competent director can guide their staff to handle most any situation. A competent director does not recommend testing for children without thorough observation. A competent director keeps good paperwork.  A competent director can handle situations within the preschool.

As a teacher, I kept Matthew 18:12-14 in mind.

“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”

It feels like in the case though, the sheppardess decided to kick the sheep over the cliff to lighten her own load because it was the easiest way to deal with a situation from her perspective.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The flowers diatribe

Yesterday was my nine year wedding anniversary. Nine years ago, I married an engineer. Actually, his degree is in Engineering and Science. He enjoyed academic torture so much, he attainted his PhD in a field called Polymer Science and Engineering. He is both an engineer and a scientist. I am making this a big point to try to preface that while others like to laugh along to the show Big Bang Theory, I am married to it. I am not complaining, I would not change my life for anything, I love my husband. He is cute, smart, a great dad, and an all around great guy. But yes, I find humor in some of the things that come with the territory of being married to, as his sister calls him, Dr. Dork.

The first is offspring. Both girls take more after Kevin than me intellectually. This summer when looking at camps I tried to get Evie to consider the really cool art camps in the area. For her age they had ceramics, painting, gardening, you name it. REALLY COOL camps. What did she chose? Math Camp. My 6 year old went to Math Camp. On her own choice. She also likes to watch Star Trek with Daddy. Any one will do, but she loves TNG with Wesley Crusher. She wants to grow up to be a Communications Officer with Star Fleet. Not joking here. At 6 I wanted to be a princess. Serena was kicked out of preschool, because she was able to outsmart and control 3 adults. I have to find humor in that now, after spending hours with psychologist and specialist because the preschool director  told  us that there had to be something wrong with a 4 year old because they were incompetent at classroom management.

Yesterday being my anniversary, I got my favorite Sheldon-esq diatribe. The Flowers Diatribe. For this rant, he was labeled temporary king of geeks. Other men have tried the Flowers Diatribe with their significant others. Most get smacked for it.

See, the Geek types have a different view of romance than the rest of the world. Where most people think romance is like movies, where a woman is wined and dined and jewelry and flowers are appropriate gifts, Geeks see things way different. Why go out when you have the Babylon 5 box set and Chinese takeout? Cuddling on the couch with sci fi is way more romantic than having to get dressed up in uncomfortable clothes, driving to some restaurant just to pay $200 for a meal? Chinese take out for 2 is under $20. That leaves $180 for either more sci fi DVDs or electronics. To a geek, romance is making sure your house has a kick butt wi fi connection and your audio system is the best on the block. They could care less about jewels. A new Ipad is a much more romantic gift in their eyes.

Flowers, well, that is a whole big story. It started when we were dating, and I love The Flowers Diatribe, so every time a special occasion comes along where non-geek male spouses would present their signifigant others with flowers, I like to bring up the idea of flowers as appropriate gifts just to hear it. Since he is on a business trip, I totally brought it up.

“Hey, Kev, Happy Anniversary!”

“Oh, yeah, it is the 6th. Happy Anniversary.”

“So, do you want to go out when we get home, I can get a babysitter?”

“Naw, that’s OK. If you want we can wait till the girls are in bed and order take out and maybe watch a few DVDs….”

“So, do I need to be home this afternoon for any deliveries?”

“Like what, did you order anything?”

“No, I was wondering if I was getting flowers for our anniversary!”


“Flowers? No, I don’t think flowers are an appropriate way to show love and affection. Think about it, I mean really. You take growing, living flowers, kill them, present them to someone. It’s saying “Hey, I like you so much I am going to give you these dead, rotting things in a pretty glass container to remind you that life is fleeting and you are fading just like the dead rotting plants I present to you!” That does not say love. Flowers are a horrible idea for a gift. Plus there is no skill in decapiting flowers. It would be more a show of manhood if I went out and killed an animal or two to lovingly provide nourishment or show strength by beheading a few enemies and presenting their heads on sticks as trophies. Those feats show affection and love, not the rotting flesh of flowers.”

It does change a little each time. Sometimes he’ll just look at me because he knows I get a kick out of his rants and he doesn’t fall for it. Sometimes he goes for the history of flowers as gifts because hygiene was sub par. I love when he does that. Esp when he adds “so if I gave you flowers, it was if I was saying you smell so bad you need to cover it up”.

Friday, October 1, 2010

sufjan stevens sewing day

I am trying to get a few projects ready to sew. We found out on this week that we are having a BOY! The girls are so excited, Evie because a brother won't bother her barbies and Serena because she can teach him how to play cars and soccer. After two girls though, all of our baby stuff is pink and purple! I don't even have a white onsie on hand.

I have Sufjan Stevens playing, I love listening to him. But my thoughts today for some reason are lead through how we relate to others. How sometimes we hurt others and do not even know it until much later, because it was something small we didn't realize we did. As opposed to how some people hurt others intentionally.  I think it is easier to ask forgiveness for things we did not do on purpose, because we genuinely feel remorse after realizing we have done harm, where as those that harm intentionally have no remorse.

I think part of this is I am still trying to decide how I feel about how Serena was treated by the director of the preschool. Was it intentional? I know that it was not considered what was best for the child in this situation, but what was easiest for the adults involved. Which is why part of me hopes that is was pure laziness on her part she decided to act like that. But then I realize that she often pushes parents into testing their children for special needs. That part to me is intentionally malicious and unethical. Luckily Serena is over the fact that she heard the director and a teacher discussing her negatively. I wonder if the way she was treated by the adults was what triggered her behaviors in that classroom, since that is the only place where they happened?