Thursday, September 25, 2008

Okay. I relent. I still hate myself today, but I don't hate anything else. Except the new Kindergarten report cards.


I don't have to look far to figure out where my son is getting his self-esteem issues.

I don't say anything in front of him. Ever. But he says things like "I hate myself." Or, "You don't like me." Or, "I'm stupid."

None of which are true, of course.

Today, though, I look at the pictures my friend Patrick took of my last night and I see my giant, oval-shaped nostrils, stringy hair, fat face, horrible skin, wrinkles. I hate everything about the way I look.

And then, I open Brendan's report card which came home yesterday and the goddamn thing is so fucking complicated that I can' understand it. And I feel stupid as hell. It's called the Georgia Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (GKIDS – I hate fucking cutesy acronyms.) A, B, C, D, F, U, and S make sense and are easy for parents to comprehend as a gauge of where their students are on the scale. This fucking "map" of the "curriculum and student's performance levels for the standard in the areas of English Language Arts, Math and Approaches to Learning." The report card is a grid that includes a description (Georgia Performance Standards Assessed) followed by a number that is the "number of elements included in the standad." This is then followed by another number: "the number of elements of the standard that have been assessed during the year." Then, the grades assigned to each element are: NA (Not Assessed), ND (Not Yet Demonstrated), EM (Emerging), PR (Progressing), MS (Meets Standards), EX (Exceeds Standards), AC (Area of Concern), DE (Developing), CD (Consistently Demonstrating).

Actually writing it out like this helps me understand it a little better, but I still think it's unnecessarily convoluted and pointless and good god, they're measuring these tiny little Kindergarten kids on 22 different areas. Just fucking tell me how he's doing in Math, Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, and PE like the good old days.

I never thought I was closed-minded, but this system sucks. It's designed to make parents feel like teachers know it all and they're idiots so they might as well cede control of their offspring to the public school system.

I seriously hate everything today.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Weight

Sometimes the only way to get moving is simply to pick up one foot and put it in front of another. goes.

The last few weeks have been so full. I feel like I've been jammed into my existence with barely enough room to breathe. Instead of writing, when I've had a free moment I've been trying to find something – prayer, meditation, hypnosis – that can take away the anxiety and stress that keeps me rigid and fearful and blind to the joy of this life.

I miss writing in this way.

I've been writing for work. And I've given a lot of thought to some creative writing that I want to do, although I haven't actually put pen to paper in that regard.

I miss writing in this intimate and meaningful way. I miss sharing the things that are challenging me and shaping me and hurting me and encouraging me.

Like the fact that I am incredibly worried about Brendan and my heart is breaking as I try to figure out how to mother him. He's so challenging right now. Defiant and frustrated and frustrating. He's not loving school. He tries hard and does really well in class. But getting him to do his homework is killing me. Like pulling teeth. For both of us.

His first parent-teacher conference left us shocked and terrified as the teacher suggested he has a fine motor skills delay. She told us how sweet and intelligent he his, but suggested he is falling behind because he lacks the fine motor skills to write and draw as well as the other kids. She suggested that he be evaluated by the school's occupational therapist, but then told me on Friday that the paperwork required is too extensive and that we should have him looked at sooner rather than later. I had already called our pediatrician and scheduled something at the Children's Hospital anyway.

I can't help but worry. I am terrified over what it might mean. Combined with his resistance to doing homework, his lack of interest in reading, and his stubbornness, I am so worried about his ability to live up to his potential, to become or achieve success and happiness in life.

How do you get a kid to enjoy homework? How do you make someone love reading if they don't? What do you do when those behaviors are so foreign to your own beliefs and way of thinking and living that you can't understand it and find a way to motivate your child?

I never imagined myself in this situation. Although it sure seems I've found myself saying that a lot these last few years.

I want the best for my son. If only I knew how to help him achieve it.