B2S 2015

It’s our annual before-back to school photo shoot. This year is pure genius! Hello bus lot. Let’s make these authentic 😄

w b2s 1

w b2s 2

w b2s 3

Of course, we’re missing the fourth grade superstar who started last week and is chilling in DC right now. But we’ll improvise on a shoot for him later.

And I should really include the 50 plus out takes as Ri darted off, climbed, kicked, and lay down on the dirty asphalt. I mean those pictures? Authentic chaos and cajoling.

I said, you say, I hear

I said: I’m concerned about my son’s reports of abuse at school by his classmate. I ask him did he tell, he says he’s not allowed. You say: There’s always two eyes – sometimes six – watching. I hear: We don’t believe he’s telling the truth. I said: In P.E. he says he is still being tackled. The folder says he was reprimanded for wrestling. In the lunch room, he says he was pushed out of his seat. The folder says he was out of his chair. You say: He didn’t tell us. It’s great that he talks to you, but we weren’t aware. There’s no communication. I hear: We’re oblivious to the cause and only see his reaction. We don’t have time for “tattle tales.” I said: My son tells on himself. He lets me know when he’s had a bad day and been placed on warning or punished. The folder report doesn’t reflect it. You say: We don’t know what’s going on, I mean there are so many days with no signature. I hear: It doesn’t matter that we’ve only checked the “good” box, if you don’t sign, you’re an unconcerned parent. Your e-mail with explicit concerns reflected? Yeah, that’s not sufficient. I said: I know he’s hiding the homework. He’s frustrated. The envelope was lost, but I created a folder for him. You say: He never turns in homework. Since January, there’s been no communication. I hear: We didn’t have time to hold the conference you requested. We don’t appreciate your efforts to enrich your child with activities beyond our worksheets and mini books.

Defeat is not defeating

“There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance next time.” ~ Malcom X
first loss

He’s been learning to lose with dignity.
Every game a trial.
Every play an error to correct.
Blamed when fault isn’t owned.
Struggling to be motivated in spite of other’s despondence.
His effort noted.
His drive applauded.
One of these days – soon, we hope – he will feel the sweet embrace of victory.

Tales from the kinder garten : “In trouble again…”

PCK  (5)

We’re on a down traveling escalator. It’s probably the longest and slowest escalator in existence. I don’t see the bottom – don’t think we’ll be able to hold our balance when finally we stop at the bottom and are able to propel ourselves forward on our own steam. This begins our tales from the kinder garten, our journey into public education {again} with Ya.

On Day one, he insisted on wearing a tie with his collared shirt. An orange and black tie, a Tony Hawk red shirt with skateboards. I picked him up from the bus and asked how his first day went: “My school is very good. You get to play first and you get to eat.” He waits,thinking, then continues, “It was very fun. I liked it. You get to play before you work.” Later, he recalls, “”5+3=5… uh. No. 2+3=5! That’s what I learned at school.”
Day two, he jumps from bus smiling.: “School was fun!”
Day three, he is sleep on the bus. He lags behind me a bit as we walk the short block to the house. He confides, “They moved my seat.” I ask why. “In art. People kept on talking to me.”
Day four, sleep again. He’s the last off at the stop. He smiles a little, but looks worn out. His teachers, he says, are nice. And yet, he’s “in trouble again.” I ask why. “I didn’t know you can’t lean on the wall like this [demonstrates]. That’s when I got talked to in the hall. I didn’t know that was a rule.”

The daily report reads redundantly: talking. “gentle reminders of personal space.” talking. talking. talking.

The beginning of week two quickly passes and I learn that Ya’s figured out the system: “Sometimes I get talked to but I’m not on yellow. There’s four chances. Past four, you get time out. I got 5 minutes off playground time. But not today. I think Friday.” Sometimes the lessons he learns aren’t that which was intended. As for his scholastic activities? The day consists of “going out to the playground, eating inside the cafeteria and learning. That’s all the things you do in school,” he says, then adds moments later, “And color papers.”

I inquire why papers? He responds, “She just makes me. She thinks coloring papers is a way to learn.” I press him. Is it to learn your colors? “No. Coloring pictures. School rules: color. I don’t get to draw.” And apparently, he’s not memorizing colors again, either.

And then, a request to call the teacher appears on his teacher’s report. I cringe. I send off an e-mail, give her the important numbers for his parenting team. I wait.

Thankfully, he enjoys school. While it’s likely for the secondary benefits of socializing with kids his age, I’m okay with any interest he has in the institution. We’re not fighting to convince him that school is essential (or that it’s legally mandated, as he fears anything that might warrant attention from law enforcement). And wardrobe issues don’t seem to exist for boys of five.

The middle

It was after nine when finally I spoke to her on the first day of classes.  Our calls becoming an unintended game of catch, unanswered.  Her voice emoted excitement, a true happiness.  School, she said, was awesome.  The bus ride, an adventure.  Middle school would be fantastic.

I breathed in, holding the silence on my end of the line as she chattered on about her day.  The teachers were as she’d hoped – excited and welcoming.  One, however, seemed too strict already and she feared he’d get progressively worse as the year wore on.

This girl – my baby – spoke with such clarity, articulating about her new school with maturity.  At ten, she’s conquering sixth grade and it seems like my fears about her being too young were unwarranted.

She’d already made friends. The bus – the notorious big cheese that always seemed to come late in rain, snow, and frigid temps during my schooling – is her favorite. There seems to be a clique already formed – a posse of girls who giggle with private jokes and dish about the latest school happenings on the way to and from home. I’ve already been told that even if I’m near the school at dismissal, she’s riding the bus. Ohhh-kay…
my beauty

After a few failed attempts, we finally secured her sports physical and Chi determined to join the track team. A required “concussion training” assembly, theoretically aimed at teaching the warning signs of traumatic brain injuries caused at competitions, shocked me. It wasn’t the session; that I was fine with. Rather it was the snub by my daughter – the first since that time long ago in daycare when I was told she was not to be called “love bug” in public. I signed us in, writing her legal name on the line while fighting with a squirming Ri. “No. Write “La’Chi.” That’s what they know me as,” Chi proclaimed.

I reminded her of her name, adding, “That’s what I named you. That’s who you are.” And yet… maybe this new moniker is who she is becoming. And as mama, perhaps I’m just a little slow to realize that the child I’ve raised is now her own young lady.

She chose seats in the auditorium up close. Waved to a few new friends. I looked around the room, noting the white board with its “SWBAT” objectives scribbled on it. “Swah-bat. Students will be able to…” I said jokingly, nudging her and pointing to the acronym. “Ugh,” she humphed. “It’s not Swah-bat, mom. That’s stupid.” I think I saw her face flush red. Then her classmate, seated in the row ahead of us, agreed, “I think swah-bat is pretty accurate.” Chi, however, rolled her eyes and remained appalled at my commentary. And then, as Ri added her own lecture to that of the Activity Director’s, Chi quietly moved half a dozen seats away from us and avoided my gaze for the remainder of the program. My heart hurt. Was she ashamed or embarrassed of us?
sing flower
She’s certainly concerned about what others think about her. I suspect it’s my fault – my own uncertainty about acceptance and confirmations. I showed her a few things on my FB page, noting the sweet comments of friends and several boutique owners Chi’s modeled for as I flipped through the album. “Why did you put that picture up?” she asked in horror. It was her own posing, simply a playful moment singing into the head of a sunflower. A typical Chi flamboyant act so common during our adventures. Apparently, though, it was a picture meant solely for our private eyes. “Please delete it,” she added with finality and disdain for my obvious lack of judgement.

I sought out a parenting mentor at work. She’d been here, survived this – whatever this is.

Just know that there is a light at the end of this tunnel… right now it’s just a flicker, but soon enough, you’ll see it in full vibrant glow.
An air of wisdom hung in her tone and her mouth formed a broad smiled. She knows – is close enough to these adolescent years to remember – what it’s like to parent a daughter. Specifically, she has survived the tween and teen years. She assures me, with a squelch of a chuckle, that my child will appear human again once she’s passed this point; once she’s “found herself,” as the psych-babbling layperson says. And, she adds, at least when she’s a teen, I’ll be able to really talk with her.

And yet, I’m not so sure.

My child came home late from school Monday in a completely chipper mood – one I’d not seen for some time. She stood in front of me: neon green shorts barely attempting to cover lengthy and toned legs, a matching neon sports bra (that she insisted was absolutely necessary for changing in the locker room for gym and track) peaked out from beneath a multi-color polka doted tank top. “They let you practice in that?” I said. I couldn’t catch myself, couldn’t mask my shock and nervous concern. Her dad would never approve. Those shorts were even outlawed in the house for being too short (and I thought for sure I’d sent them off to charity). “Yes,” she curtly replied, her voice’s octave rising at the end in inquiry.

Egad. Truh-bull truh-bull.

Wardrobe aside, I’m excited for her. She’s on the track team – her first official team sport (besides a single season of half-hearted cheer). Sure, she was a gymnast, but this new endeavor requires her to be good alone and with partners. I wonder if she’ll run relay?

I hope we’ll be able to get beyond our now-frequent superficial conversations. Maybe we’ll even be friends. I so desperately want to be a welcomed part of her world.

SWF: May I inform you, your legacy sucks

On my child’s teacher, who is teaching her to hate school but love education beyond it.

May I inquire, please, as to
why my usually inquisitive bright, and
bubbly child no longer enjoys school?
Not the learning, that she craves,
but she’s seeking solace beyond your
classroom. It’s no longer welcoming her
in – she feels imprisoned and persecuted.
Contrary to your pass-the-buck
reply, home is not the problem.
We’re working on serenity through compromise
and melding our opinions on sanctuary
to include seven distinct opinions.
You’ve chosen to attack my child
to belittle her efforts to create.
To achieve. And it’s unacceptable.
She should not escape in tears,
should not fain ill to avoid
your wrath. I’ve seen your berating
nature in action and should’ve stopped
you then. My child is not
your means to release your stress.
(Nor should anyone else’s be, period.)
You were entrusted to inspire knowledge,
to foster a love already growing
for education and all that offers.
Instead, you are crushing her spirit
(and likely others you come across).
I pray you realize your impact
soon – positive and negative – isn’t quickly
erased (if ever). She’ll move forward
in spite of you, perhaps to
spite you. But may I inform
you now, your blindness to concern
will (unfortunately) shape her future visions
of what a teacher should and
should not be. It’s your legacy.

** Sharing with Six Word Fridays. This weeks word is “may.”

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