Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Proud momma

So the kid, the evil little mini me of her father, decided to go down the road of her forefathers and dig in her heals about a wee little thing at school. She comes from a long line of extraordinarily stubborn people, it's deeply ingrained in her father's bloodline. My blood has things like decision making issues, long showers, and a wee tad of super crazy. His has drama queens and stubborn like a rock. So far the kid has gone mostly his way. Both of us had opposite school experiences, I was a wunderkind that the teachers adored and school work came very easy to me. He was there, his mom was a school teacher so he had to at least show up. Schoolwork though, not his thing. He passed but sometimes it was iffy at best. Not that he isn't brilliant, he is (I'd never marry someone who wasn't, they wouldn't survive a day with me), scolastics though, didn't really float his boat until college and it's a miracle he survived that long.

I was kinda hoping that the kid would follow in my footsteps but this does not seem to be the case. She goes to school because she's a diva and all divas must have their fan base right? She hit this year, the first grade, and suddenly she had to work and really, what diva wants to work? The big deal in the first grade is the kids learn how to read. And the ones who don't learn to read to a certain level get held back that year and they mean business. The kid was not into trying and consequently, didn't pass the first level she was supposed to. We were stressing, the teacher had a talk with us before she failed the testing since she knew the kid was having issues. Apparently (and this is common with her) she knew how to do it but just didn't want to try. She would, literally, look at the first letter of the word and make up the rest of it. Sometimes she'd make up the whole sentence. Creative but not going to get her through the first grade. The teacher was frustrated because she knew the kid could do it, she just wouldn't. We made a deal with the kid, if she passed her reading test this time and the next time she would get a Nintendo DS. And yes we helped her and practiced with her every single day, she was not going this alone. She failed and the DS was a no go.

We then started the uphill battle. It was not a pleasant trip either and it took a helluva lot of effort on all our parts. I don't know how some parents do it because if we, lord forbid, had another kid that we had to help with their homework it just would not have happened. Every night it was a mental and emotional brawl dragging her through the readers that her teacher would send home. Sometimes she'd do so badly I'd write a note to the teacher to send home the same book the next night and a new one. Out of the three 1st grade classes that were located on her end of the hall each teacher had 1 kid that was at the failing level. They arranged it so that the 3 kids would move as a group alternating between the 3 teachers for their remedial reading group.

Mind you the words remedial and failing never ever came anywhere near me in any of my 13 years of public schooling. The thought, oh hell no. I was 4 when I taught myself to read. My parents didn't even know I knew how to read at that age. The hubby followed the normal age and knew how to read at age 6 or 7. Both of us are insanely avid readers too. I have been known to read 2000 pages in a weekend no problem. Our kid did not know how to read at an average level and even worse, didn't want to? I didn't get it but if that was the way she was going to play the game it was going to get ugly. And it did.

We don't usually bother spanking in our home, it's just not necessary and ineffective. Bribery works much better but there was a bit of forehead flicking going on when she tried lying to me while reading. Unless I was right over her shoulder looking at the words that were written she would try and make the sentences up rather than sounding the words out. That, to me, is lying and I was less that impressed. If I was going to have to spend the time and effort, if her teachers were even were going that extra mile for her, then I'll be damned if she was going to try that BS on me. It got to the point that when she tried lying she started flinching even before I came to look and see if she was lying. Not the best poker player since she'd give herself away.

It took maybe 4-6 weeks and she was doing better, not fabulous but she had sucked it up and decided that she wasn't winning the stubborn game. Plus if she really wanted us to buy her something she had to work in exchange for it. This toy was worth x amount of readers. We always gave her a choice of books to read to earn that particular thing that we knew was at a challenging enough level to be worth and effort. The hubby used to be a school teacher, you would not believe the childrens library we have at home. Thank God because it sure as hell has come in handy. At some point one of the teachers (the one that lives 2 doors down from us actually) wanted her to be tested because she was doing better than the other 2 kids in her group. Her teacher tested her and she was able to move up out of the traveling group and into a normal classroom group. We were very happy that she finally made it to the level she was supposed to be at.

However, being the mean evil slave driving parents that we are (only children do not always have it so great) we did not change the system any. We still worked every single night on our reading and, unbeknownst to me, the hubby had made another deal with the kid. A Nintendo DS deal that when she tested up another 2 levels on time she could get the pink one. She came home Monday night and told her daddy that she tested up and passed and that she wanted her Nintendo.

This morning he went to her teacher to see what kind of testing she did or if she did any at all. You never know with kids, reality, stories, the translation not always spot on and this is a DS we're talking about here. Turns out the teacher tested her 2 levels up. Yeah that's right she passed two levels at once. Apparently she was having such a good morning that the teacher decided that she'd try and see how far she got. I love her teacher, she really knows what is up with her kids and knows when the right time is to test them. Set them up for success as it were.

We are so proud of our little stubborn monster. With a little motivation and a lot of torture we'll have her reading 1000 pages a weekend in no time right?

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