Monday, February 02, 2015

Taking a Breath

This morning, I just really need to catch my breath for just a moment.

Since Christmas, I have been exceptionally busy with two conference submission deadlines, prepping a new graduate class, and two respiratory infections with the squirrel.  I have three peer reviews I am working on, two of which are late.  (JoAnn and Ann--I swear, I'm finishing them up today and tomorrow).  I've worked every weekend and most nights and I'm not sure I've had one whole day where I wasn't up early (5ish) and working late in over 3 weeks.


The house looks like it's been invaded by a fraternity.  Shaun the Sweep is afraid to come off of his docking station.  It's so messy that I thought a cat paw playing with a fake snow ball was a bug.

And poor little squirrel.  She is having a rough time.  She had her second respiratory virus over the weekend.  We had some crap ass numbers on her O2.  Sunday morning she was in the low 90s and upper 80s until she had her treatment and coughed up some stuff.  She's going gung-ho most of the day and then she crashes and her lungs catch up.  We sent her to school this morning, but I wouldn't be surprised if she didn't come home early.

And she's really, really not liking school right now.  I'm really  glad we decided to "Red Shirt" the twins.  And really, that is what it is.  We recognize their academic potential and feel like we'll help it better by letting them have a bit more time to mature.

((A good deal of time spent staring off into space))

Ok.  I am really struggling with how to write this. I have things I need to "journal"/blog about, but I feel protective about both Christopher, Bridget, and their wonderful teacher (Oh, btw, The  Daily Beast says blogging is dead. Sucks to be me, I guess)  I want to share information about the struggles and triumphs of the twins, and I am very protective that someone will place the responsibility on their teacher, when in fact, I think what we're dealing with is normal (or maybe not) kid stuff.

We are working closely with their teacher on some of  their struggles (particularly Bridget's) and we're all on the same page  with the same goal.  We also imagine that what may be our goal: "Oh, we're red shirting them; if they don't do well we aren't bothered" could cause our teacher to be poorly evaluated "What  do you mean two children didn't do well.  What kind of teacher are you!?" Right???  That's not fair to her!!  So we're all documenting our choices and working together to make sure everyone is fairly evaluated.

But little squirrel is having some problems.  For the past three weeks, she has been HYSTERICAL about going to school.  Monday mornings, especially, she gets into a hysterical crying spree.  And this isn't a fake cry. This is red, splotchy face, snot coming out the nose, nearly inconsolable hysterical.  And it's about math.  Kindergarten math!!  1+1=2 math!!

I know I'm biased about what I believe about Bridget (and Christopher) so I have to back up a bit. And make some confessions.  First, last summer, we took  the twins in for "testing" to make sure it was a good idea to put them in the same classroom.  For instance, there are going to be natural comparisons between twins about their performance.  Both of them have strengths that the other doesn't.  Is there such a difference we should  be concerned about putting them in the same classroom?  We told them they were being tested to figure out where they should sit for kindergarten.
The results were good and fine.  Christopher's scores put him close enough to Talent Development that I won't be  surprised if he gets in later.  Bridget's scores put her in "average to high average" except for one scale.  She scored 99th percentile in Fluid Intelligence, which means she picks up new things very, very quickly.  That  last link is why we think Bridget is going to be a lawyer some day.  She's always working out the logic of something and is not afraid to share her views on any and sundry topic.

But math requires sitting there and thinking and working and struggling.  At least it does for me, and I was and am very good at math.  It's funny that her teacher says that if she shows Bridget blocks  of color for math (2 red and 1 white), Bridget can make answer the question instantaneously.  But 2+1 on a math worksheet  is not as easy for her. Yes, it has occurred to us that she may have some "differences in learning style" that we might need to address.  And if anyone wants to share some parenting experience on this, we'd love to hear it!!  I don't know how I'd live without step-ahead parent mentors.

So this morning, when she was just losing it at 6 am just over the thought of going to school, I did a little Mom coaching.  She's so tiny that I can actually still scoop her up in my lap, hug her tight and she's not much bigger than a cat. We talked about how easily she learned to ride a bike and how hard, actually, it was for Conor to learn.  We talked about how Conor cried when he was learning to play the piano because it was so hard and we'd told him about it  being hard to ride a bike at first and he had to practice and then it was easy.  The same is true for Conor now and piano playing: he plays well now but he had to work at it.  She may have  to work at math before it's easy.  

I told Bridget that I was really smart because I worked hard not because it was easy for me.  ((I was one of those kids who actually did study in high school.  Everyone else I know said they never cracked a book and got all As.  I meanwhile studied over breaks!!  "Smart" was never easy for me)) I told her that I had to work hard at math and a lot of times I didn't understand it, but  if I thought it was like a puzzle I could figure  it it.  I told her (true story!) that Daddy didn't well in high school, and it was only in college when he met a girl who studied a lot that he became "smart" because he worked hard (studying with this girl, dontcha know). We talked a lot about how people think "smart" means it's easy when really "smart" means it's difficult you work hard.

It's funny that on their spelling tests, Christopher can get 3/11 and could not actually care less.  Bridget, on the other hand, gets 9/11 and she wails at how horrible she's doing. IN KINDERGARTEN!!!  (I should note at this point that even though Christopher scored close enough on his tests that TD is not out of the picture, he'll do just fine repeating Kindergarten)

I don't know.  I'm not a Kindergarten teacher.  Is 2+1 obvious?  Or at some point, do you actually  have to think?  Is she frustrated because it's not as quick for her as she thinks it is for other people and thus she's giving up?  Or does have a  learning difference we ought to address?  (Her quickness at the different colored  blocks makes me think this is possible) Can't we just Let It Go for this red shirted year and worry about it next year?

Parenting is hard, y'all!!

Parenting twins is hard.  Parenting when you've got clever children is hard. Parenting clever children who are having problems is hard. Parenting in a house that looks like it's on Fraternity Row is hard.  Parenting on broken sleep because you keep making sure the pulse oximeter is over 90 in the middle of the night is hard.  And parenting when you get a shot of adrenaline at midnight because it's actually 92 is hard.  Parenting, when your entire heart is hanging out in three different people at an elementary school, is hard.

God(dess), I love those children so much.

Taking a deep breath. And going to go review some papers now.