I’ve been waiting for the funny to pop in about my original Bad Day. Hmmm. Not yet. Here goes anyway. I warn you, it is long, unamusing, and only marginally book/library related. Read at your own risk.
On Thursday morning while I was sitting down to write an entry for you lovely people an entry sure to have rocked the world of children’s literature as we know it, but oh, well I received a call from my daughter’s school. Actually, I should say I received a call from my daughter, a crying, sad little call of a first grader. She asked if I could bring a paper from home to school. Of course I could, but why, I asked. She couldn’t answer me. Her teacher got on the phone to say that she had warned my daughter that she needed to return her work to school and that she would have to call home if she forgot it again. The teacher informed me that my first grader had not been doing her work in class and this was really a problem. I told her I would bring the paper right over, even though it wasn’t finished.
I went over to the school, a lump in my throat. All year we have had a problem with our first grader getting her work done in class, and all year the teacher has turned it over to me to solve. That only being a problem because I am not in school with my daughter and thus am unable to help her. I have talked and talked to my youngest, to no avail, and had finally arrived at my own conclusions. One, that my daughter is immature for her age, and I would like to give her a little chance to catch up to her peers. Two, that the teacher seemed unable to work with her, so perhaps next year’s teacher would be more helpful. And three, that it seemed that the current teacher didn’t much like my daughter, and my daughter, being perceptive, could tell that, and that was now part of the problem. My decision, with one month left to go of school, was to get her through this year and start fresh in second grade. She knows the material, she isn’t disruptive, and she’s very bright. If the problems continue, we can look at Attention Deficit Disorder, but so many of the characteristics don’t fit her, that I am reluctant to label her as such.
If the class is working along together, she is fine. She can pay attention to storytime, art, music, or other activities. But if she is given thirty minutes to work on her journal or copy sentences off the board, she cannot do it. Unstructured time is impossible for her to handle. She is a little talkative, but not disruptive. She is a little silly, but tries very hard to behave. And something that will not be counted by any school system at all, she is an incredible singer. I mean, truly unbelievable. And she has a musical instinct for making up songs that blows my mind. If someone could write her lyrics, I swear, some of her tunes could be on pop stations today.
But this talented, sweet, bright little girl had to call me crying because she hadn’t finished her work in class like all the other kids. So, I went to school to turn in her work and asked to talk to the school counselor. She was unavailable. However, I found, if a mother looks like she is about to cry, the school counselor will call you at home almost immediately. She talked to the teacher, and we made an appointment for next week.
So, I went to work upset that somehow I had failed my daughter. I went to work on the heels of my lackluster review. And the two became connected in my mind in a very real way. We were, both of us, square pegs trying to fit in round holes.
My daughter is bright, creative, and kind. She cannot write her sentences down in the time allowed. She could probably sing her journal entries to the class in a way that would bring tears to the eyes of her teachers. She has an incredible amount to offer, but so far, this year, it can’t be recognized.
I am also bright, creative, and kind. I cannot always be on time. I also could probably sing my reference interviews in a way that would bring tears to the eyes of our patrons. I have an incredible amount to offer, but so far, this year, it can’t be recognized.
I could homeschool my daughter, but she would miss all the school setting has to offer.
I could quit my job, but I would miss all the library has to offer.
Or we can both muddle through the parts where we don’t fit in, try hard to remember the ways in which we are special, and hope that at some point schools and bureaucracies will be able to see the joys in being different.