Saturday, February 26, 2005
I'm sure I'm neurotic, now
I’m starting to wonder if I really am one of those parents who wants to get her kids into the “best” preschool and give them all the “best” opportunities in life. I have always prided myself on not really caring about appearances when it came to my kids. I say I don’t care that they have never been in dance/piano/karate/mommy & me/ etc. classes, but I think I do care.
Harrison goes to a pretty great preschool that continues on through 6th grade. It has a strong academic focus and the elementary kids even wear uniforms. Other kids in Harry’s class take violin lessons and are active in dance. They are all turning 5 this year and most of the kids can read. It’s a pretty cool place, but not somewhere I thought he’d ever be. The question at hand now is Kindergarten. Where do we send him?
As a public school educator, married to a former Catholic High School graduate, my husband and I have always agreed that we would send our kids to public schools. I’m not sure what to do, though, now that I have a choice. Chris and I have been toying with keeping Harrison at his present school next year for two reasons: 1) he has gained a bit of a head start and keeping him in this school will just enhance his education, and 2) this school has all day Kindergarten which Utah public schools don’t often offer. Our neighborhood elementary school is top notch – best in the Salt Lake City school district. This particular school does offer a full day program, but we would have to pay a couple hundred dollars a month to put him in it, not including the extended care we would need. We are okay with this – it’s still cheaper than private – but we are a tad worried that he might become a behavior problem if he gets bored. Also, it’s first come – first serve. We may not get in.
This is where I start to question myself, though. Beth told me today about an accelerated-type Kindergarten in our school district over at a magnet site that isn’t too far from us. She said that she was going to get Kyle screened to see if he would qualify. I freaked. Am I too late? Can I get Harrison in? I actually started getting competitive about Harrison’s capabilities compared to Kyle’s. (sorry, Beth) WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?
Harrison had behavioral issues at the first school we sent him to this fall. I switched him to his current school which we all love even though he struggled in his first classroom. He actually almost got kicked out due to their “no biting” guidelines. Three bites, you’re out. Harrison has bitten three times, but the Director has been really great and knows that there were some extenuating circumstances. After the third bite, he was transferred into another room and has flourished. He is happier, behaving well, and has blossomed in every way imaginable. I have been able to focus on Ella, and getting her out of her place into this great place, for the last couple of months and it has been wonderful. Until Friday.
Harry bit again. Late in the day, he tells us that another boy hit him twice in the head so he bit him. He knows he’s not supposed to. The Director wants to meet with us on Monday. I feel like we’ve been called into the Assistant Principal’s office. What if he gets kicked out?
We started a “Happy Jar” for him this weekend. Same paper strips that we use for Ella’s “Potty Jar”. It’s to reinforce him when he uses his words instead of grunts or whines. Harry is really sensitive, but can’t express his feelings very well. How in the hell do you deal with stuff like that? I’m a counselor and have never been able to help someone talk who can’t or won’t. It is helping, but I feel like I’m just pasting something together quick to fix the latest leak in the boat. That doesn’t seem like the best approach for something as important as raising a child properly.
Parenting is relentless. The behavioral, emotional and physical challenges are daily. These other things – choosing the right school and managing behavioral crises – just add to the daily grind of diapers, discipline and enrichment. How do people do this year in and year out? I love my children to death which is probably why all of this takes such a toll on me. I want what is best for them and it KILLS me to see them hurting. Maybe that’s why I am starting to get worked up about where Harrison is going to go to school. Have I failed him some how? Did I have too much stress in my life during my pregnancy with him that has caused him to not be able to communicate very well?
I hope I don’t sound like I am totally losing it over all of this. I just feel like parenting is such an important job that deserves more training. How can it be appropriate to learn on-the-job when your actions affect human beings for the rest of their lives? There has got to be a better way.