105 Ways to Give a Book

Square Peg, Round Hole

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.

8 comments:

web said...

I hear you.

Susan said...

I hear you, too. Hang in there.

Steve said...

Ok, this is totally sad. Why are we creative minds so easily persecuted by those too ignorant to understand us? (Sorry, Norma Rae moment coming on.)

Hopefully next year’s teacher will understand and keep her more on target. Or if not, perhaps your daughter should get a blog. That where the best ‘random-thought’ minds seem to meet.

Gregory K. said...

I can add to the chorus of "been there, done that." Finding a teacher who appreciates each child for who they are is a challenge... and I think most of these issues in the younger grades boil down to exactly that. The fact that in first grade it's sooooooo critical to get every shred of work done... well... don't get me started. In fact, I could bore everyone but you here, but instead I'll shoot ya an email with what we've been through with our son (and it's a happy story, by the way) who shares much in common with your daughter.

PJ Librarian said...

Having worked in an elementary school as a sub then a librarian, I have seen so much that what is happening to your little one is like deja vu. Hopefully next year will bring a better teacher who has more of a focus on the individual. The last two years I was at the school, the teachers were so pushed to have such a strict agenda to pass standardized test that many kids were mislabeled and poorly treated and taught.

MotherReader said...

Thanks so much for the support. I know the teacher that I will request (and I'll get or I'll cry right there in the office) for next year, and she is amazing. My oldest daughter is very smart and sweet, but it was her second grade teacher who realized just how funny and creative she was besides. The teacher is also a delightful person, so I know she will be good to work with as a team. We just have to get through the rest of this year, but we are almost there.

Thanks again for the blogworld love.

Gregory K. said...

And it stays blogworld love cuz I'm stumped finding your email. Go figger.

Anyway, a great teacher truly can make all the difference. When out of the box talent is encouraged and embraced, well, heck... it's just a plain old good thing.

Camille said...

Oh my gosh,
For crying out loud she is a FIRST GRADER! I guess if Kindergarten is the new 1st grade, then 1st grade is the new 2nd grade. They are just little kids!

I was dumbfounded when the reading specialist came to me during my youngest's 3rd week of school and told me that testing showed my daughter could not read. Well, uh, she is only in the 3rd week of first grade...does she have to know how to read by now? I thought that is what you guys taught them to do this year?

That was 8 years ago. She is now a formidable reader. She read Lord of the Rings for the first time in 5th grade and has continued to dazzle me with her reading choices.

Her second grade teacher was a perfect teacher, meaning, she was exactly the right teacher at the right time.

Hang in there, I hope you get a perfect teacher next year. In the meantime, if you have a good principal, he/she can probably match her with a teacher that provides lots of support and structure in the classroom. I would ask about it now!

Keep up with the writing over the summer.
Good luck and here's wishing you a perfect teacher next year.