School has started this year and I must say it has been off to a rough start for my child. My daughter Hannah is 11 years old starting 6th grade this year. I should start by telling those who don’t know me a bit about Hannah.
Hannah was born rather extrasensory. Its funny that at the time I/we considered her gifts a disability and so does most of the medical world. Hannah was born not caring at all if she ate or not. She never cried to eat but a handful of times and even then I don’t believe she cried because she was even hungry. She had to be tube fed for 3 years and was very sensitive to certain textures. I could feed her baby food and she would gag and end up vomiting. It was the most trying time in my life but even though it was hard it was work that was worth every second of getting her to the point of being healthy and “ok.” Through the years Hannah has been able to feel what others are feeling, take on negativity as its her own and that has even led to some depression. I took her to a therapist at one time, and when I told the therapist I could no longer afford to pay out of pocket and come. She recommended Hannah read a book on childhood depression. That stuck with me and I wondered at the time, is she really depressed? At times Hannah has dealt with extreme anxiety and that played out for a couple of years of her picking at her fingers, her skin, picking any scab she had off repeatedly, almost like self mutilation. I was extremely concerned and took her to once again another therapist. At that time I felt I was spinning my wheels because all the therapist seemed to offer me was the question.. “have you tried putting bandaids over the sores”? um.. What?? so I ditched that therapist and I handled things the best way I knew how. Thankfully she did seem to grow out of that behavior. She has dealt with the stress of divorce for 8 years now and that certainly has not helped her flourish in a positive way. The strained relationship with her dad has been tough and certainly doesn’t foster a positive outlook on her life at times.
Fast forwarding along to school years.. Preschool was absolute hell at first. The first pre school I put Hannah in was at St Mary’s Catholic Church. She could not stand for children to get close to her and when they would as some would say “get in her bubble” she would end up biting them. This went on for a few weeks there. Like most people that work with children these days. You tell them something about your child that separates them from the rest, and they don’t hear you because they have to worry about the group as a whole. I remember them having potty time, and they would sit the children on a little bench in a row waiting to use the restroom. Hannah was not potty trained yet as she was behind in some areas including that one. So I asked the teacher “could you please not sit Hannah with the other children” as I felt it was making the sensory stuff worse and she would end up biting always at that time when kids were sitting next to her. Long story short they kept sitting her there and she bit twice one day. I got a call from the main lady of the school and she asked me to pick her up and not bring her back “nicely”… So we joke now that Hannah was probably one of the only kids kicked out of preschool. Sadly enough though this was just the beginning of many hardships and rough times. I took Hannah out of preschool for about 2 months and worked with her myself plus the therapy she was getting helped. I then tried putting her in a different school up the road from where my mother lived and it went off much better. I have found with children with sensory issues, sometimes they just need TIME. The elementary years of school had some challenges but she always did well academically. She has been pretty much a straight A student with maybe a B here and there in math. Girls with Turner syndrome just struggle in math they say and maybe Hannah is no exception there. Her father and myself were not geniuses in math so I’m sure that contributes.
One thing I do feel strongly about is our school systems and the fact that they are failing children. Yes you heard me correctly, I strongly believe they are failing our children. Back when I was young I have mentioned before I was a “good kid”. I did what was expected of me and always had a fearful mindset to not push boundaries or get in trouble. So I sat in class and I was quiet and I did what was expected of me. For years I went to a private school which I feel was an asset in some ways to my learning. Smaller class size, more one on one teacher involvement, less distractions with bad kids acting out. I mean don’t get me wrong every class has clowns, but overall I felt it fostered a better environment for me to learn in. Now I’m questioning is private school worth the investment these days?? what do you think?? I see public school class sizes increasing Everywhere , 30 something students and one teacher. I just don’t like it. I don’t like how children are expected to just sit down, shut up and listen. They aren’t given time to go to the bathroom. Two years ago Hannahs teacher made them wait until after lunch to use the bathroom from 730 in the morning til after 12:30. Could you wait that long to use the bathroom??? I know that I could not. This year Hannah is switching classes and due to her sensory issues all the children in the hallway scurrying to class at one time is overwhelming to her senses. She does not like it and I see the anxiety it is causing. She said” they all act mom like they don’t have a care in the world.” She sees herself as separate from them and tells me all the time their behaviors which are very different from hers. What do you do when your child just can’t fit in with the other children because she contains the soul and wisdom of an adult. It is a gift and a curse perhaps all at once I feel.
I feel compelled to tell this little story. Starting into the second week of school or so this year. I was in the kitchen doing dishes. I saw Hannah writing and writing and writing… I was like what are you doing? She told me “I just like to write sometimes” I thought well thats great that she likes to write and I went on about my business. Well we went a couple nights later to the open house at her school. She said “mom come meet the principal there he is”.. and I’m like ok. I walk up and Hannah says to him, did you get it?? He says yes I did and I will talk to you about it tomorrow. I’m standing there thinking.. did you get what?? So we walk away and she says, I wrote him a letter about the kids here and how they are so disrespectful acting especially on the bus. I was like WHAT?????? One part of me wanted to scold her right then and be like how could you do that without telling me and why did you do that??.. you know typical I can’t believe you did that type parenting!!. I stopped for a minute and thought stop it!! stop acting like an asshole parent and just listen to what she says. So she told me why she wrote the letter and I said well stand behind what you believe when you talk to him tomorrow. I believe if she felt she needed to do it then she needed to own up to the consequence or the reaction. I did however write him an email about the letter explaining that I was not aware she wrote it and if anything was inappropriate in the letter I’m happy to talk to him about it. The interesting thing was.. tomorrow came and he never addressed the letter with her, nor did he reply to my email. I was then upset not because she wrote the letter, but because he didn’t give a shit enough to talk to her about it or myself. Hannah felt like what she wanted to say to him didn’t even matter. I feel it solidified what I see in the school system. Too many kids and authority figures just don’t really care.We should be teaching children that what they say and feel does matter. If I’m out of line here by all means tell me, but having a child that sees the reality of what is going on has opened my eyes to the fact that kids really are just numbers being pushed through like cattle. I’m not dismissing the fact that there are probably good teachers in public schools but I feel they are dwindling. I’m at a place where I don’t know what is best. Do I look into homeschooling in the future? Do I try to work my ass off more to send her to a private school/Montessori school? I’ve even researched unschooling which seems to be probably the most visionary amazing type of schooling I have read about. I am not sure I could be that radical yet.
Children are all so unique. Each one of them possesses different gifts. The traditional school setting does not care nor have time for these gifts, it does not have time to foster relationships. It only does what is written out and what has been practiced for years. Almost to the point that what they are learning is not even really relevant anymore.Please tell me your thoughts on the school system. Tell me what you wish could be different for your child/children. I just need support here because I feel a heavy burden that I wish so deeply I could lift off of my child. I wish for her and all kids to be able to discover what they are good at and be supported by these people that are their teachers and role models.