Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Parenting Ring of Hell

Introverts vs. Extroverts

I'm an Extrovert. CLEARLY. There's no doubt in anyone's mind that I'm an extrovert. I'm loud, I'm proud, I'm not afraid to speak up...ever... (well, maybe around my mother...).

David is an extrovert. Not as extreme as me, surely, but definitely an extrovert.

We got Sofia. Whew. Clearly another extrovert. Or she just doesn't give two hoots what anyone else thinks, she's gonna do what she wants to do.

Then there are the boys. Sam is an extreme introvert. Quiet. Shy. Withdrawn. Softspoken. Anxious. (Not that extroverts can't be anxious - we have plenty of that - but the way Sam deals with it is so different from how I deal with it).

And Micah, while not as introverted as Sam, is clearly on the more reticent side. And he's an emerging teen.

Suddenly, my little boy who loved me, the little boy who watched with a mixture of horror and fascination as his big brother approached the teen years, saying "I'm not going to be like that, am I?", is becoming a teen.

An ornery teen.

A teen with attitude.

A teen with opinions.

An introverted teen with an extroverted mother.

This is not going well.

In the grocery store, I call the clerks by name. They have their names written in 3" tall letters on their name tags. And I like to think of them as people, not machines.

Micah was not thrilled. "Mom, can you just not do that? Can you just say 'Hey You'?"

He's making me listen to "music" in the car. His kind of music - top 40, but only the pieces he likes. I still have not pinned down his musical taste (although he'll always stop for AC/DC).

So if I'm listening to music, even bad music, if it's got a decent beat, I want to dance. Even if I'm driving.

Not good. "Stop That!"

This is going to be an interesting few years.

Just Stop Arguing

And while Micah approaches teenager-ness, he's also perfecting his already considerable Arguing Skills.

EVERYTHING is an argument with this kid.I'm just so tired already, and he hasn't even turned 12 yet.

Last night he had to do homework for his Judaics class. This weekend is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. This week is a time to reflect on our mistakes and problems and think about ways to do better next year.

One question on the homework was for him to think about two things he could do to be a better son.

     Stop Arguing.
     Don't Argue.

That's what we came up with after 15 minutes of arguing about the question.


Math Woes

And because we would'nt want to have a smooth transition to anything....

Last night I got a call from Sam's Geometry teacher.

Back story: When Sam took the math placement test back in March, his class had not made every much progress in math. There were starts and stops. But in late January they got a new teacher, and the time they returned from February vacation, they were back on track. They managed to finish the entire Algebra 1 book before the end of school, at a very rigorous rate. Sam aced the class - he really had a talent for math.

So in August, we get his schedule from the high school, and take a look at the teacher websites. And he realizes he's been placed in Algebra 1, the regular freshman mid-level math course, and it's the exact same book he completed in 8th grade.

Frantic contact with the Guidance Counselor. Not a lot of time in between our vacation and the beginning of high school, especially since Sam was at my parents' home for a few days and then had USY Encampment for 4 days.

Guidance says we can do a Parent Override to get him into the Honors math class, although Guidance does not recommend Parent Overrides. The paperwork has a really negative statement about "we don't think this is what is best for your child but if you do, that's your choice." (I'm paraphrasing).

Sam returns from my parents' on Wednesday afternoon, in time to go to Orientation at the high school. My mom sees the override form, and notices that it is for Honors Algebra 1. Still Algebra 1.

So we go to Orientation, and of course, the guidance counselors are not there to see the parents. But after the parent session, I grab the head of Guidance. He says, "no problem, the next class is Honors Geometry, his guidance counselor just filled it out wrong. Let her know that it should be Geometry."

Sam and I do manage to track down his Guidance Counselor, Mrs. C., and we talk about Honors Geometry. And clearly she is not going to be a good match for Sam, because she starts pushing back.

"Oh, no, it's too hard, I don't think he can do it, it would be better if he took a harder science class, I don't think he should move. He'll have to take all the placements again now."

Which is NOT the way to convince Sam not to take a class!

By the time we get home, his body is so tense, I can see every tendon in his hands and arms. He is determined to sit down and take 10 placement exams that night, despite being exhausted (from a weekend at Grandma's) and stressed (because he's leaving the next morning at 8am for camp) and upset (from being told he isn't capable of doing the work).

He takes the first test, but we realize that one of the figures did not load properly, and if you reload the page, you get a whole new test, so the 5 questions he had already answered went away. Too frustrating.

So we decide that he really needs to pack that night, get a good night's sleep, and do some math review before he takes the test. I had grabbed the math book from school (since I was in for staff days).

While he was at camp, I contacted the Geometry teacher, who was really nice, along with the Learning Center teacher. Sam is placed in Learning Center to support both the dyslexia and the emotional issues. Thank Heavens we got that placement - it is going to be VERY important for him!

So the Geometry teacher is more laid back about everything, but she still does want him to take the tests. Sam gets home from camp Sunday night. Monday morning, while I go to Staff Meetings, he sits down and starts taking the tests.

At 11:30, he has gotten through 4 tests. We enter the grades and Submit. He gets 72%, 86%, 78% and 88%. You need at least 80% on at least 10 tests. Sam starts stressing and sobbing that he's going to do all these tests but get the last two wrong and have done all that work for nothing.

He's sobbing. I'm sobbing. I'm emailing back and forth with the teacher, who, bless her heart, tells us to just STOP. They will work it out.

He goes to school the next day. No math on his rotation the first day. Second day he goes to the Honors Algebra 1 class that he has been moved into, but later in the day we make the switch, and the next rotation for math, he goes to Honors Geometry.

Great. All is well. He is in the supported level classes for English, History and Science, and Honors Geometry. He has Learning Center twice a day, so plenty of time to do his work and get help.

He does great on all the homework. Misses maybe one problem each time.

And then he gets a 43% on the first test.

So the Geometry Teacher (not the lady I had been dealing with before school; the other section's teacher) calls me last night, worried that perhaps this is not the class for Sam.

Among other questions I have for her, paramount is "How much of his IEP testing accommodations were followed?" Not all accommodations were followed, which clearly had an impact.

So she and I agree that I'll have Sam take some of the practice tests again, and we will all discuss more in the morning (today).

When I start talking to him about this, he gets very upset.

"All I am hearing is that you think I'm stupid."

My heart is crying.

But he does two of the test and gets 88% on each - only two wrong on each test.

The third test we only get half way through, and at 10pm call it quits. The poor kid wakes up at 6 to catch the bus, and he was exhausted.

So I"m heading in to the high school this morning to meet with the Guidance Counselor and the Learning Center teacher. LC Teacher said she will pull Sam out of his History class so he can participate in the conversation, too.


Meanwhile, in Sofia's World

All is cheery and bright in Sofia's world. School is great. She is talking up a storm. She's got gymnastics once a week, swimming twice a week, and next week she'll start ballet, too. She likes to go to parties at shul, so the High Holidays have been fun, and she's got three birthday parties on her calendar for this month.

We totally lucked out with her MWJDS schedule. Still Monday and Thursday afternoons, 1:000 - 3:15. She has Judaic Music and then Wellness/PE on Monday, and Judaics and Art on Thursdays. Perfect enrichment!

She is "growing long hair" like Rapunzel. Now it's usually in her face, and she refuses to keep a ponytail or clip in for very long. We just keep lots of extra hair bands around in the car, the backpack, the bathroom, the swim bag, the ballet bag....