Saturday, April 4, 2009

A Mother's Guilt

Why is it that moms always feel guilty. You feel guilty that you bottlefed instead of breastfed, you felt guilty because you went back to work, you feel guilty because you didn't go back to work, you feel guilty for an endless number of reasons.

Maybe it is because we love our kids so much and only want what is best for them. Last night the guilt hit me and my first big wave of missing Colorado came with it.

I have been adjusting to our move well. I never thought I wanted to live in Colorado forever and was up for the adventure of moving. I always thought I would move West not East but sometimes God has other plans for our lives.

I had conferences with all the kids teachers Thursday and Friday. Both the girls got glowing reports and seem to be adjusting well and being appropriately challenged. B was a whole other story. Socially he seems to be doing well but as soon as I saw his teacher I knew she had something on her mind. B is this really smart kid with this sparkling personality but likes to push the limits with authority and is quite bossy (I wonder where he gets that from). Actually the more my husband has pointed it out, B is quite the mini-me of me personality-wise (of course I am not bossy or controlling). He has been talking during quiet work time A LOT and his teacher did not seem pleased. She seemed understanding of his adjustment period and even pointed out that it is some sort of bad habit for him because he doesn't even seem to notice he is doing it until she points it out. So I know talking is a problem for him (another trait he gets from his mother). He continuously got in trouble for talking when he went to private school in kindergarten and 1st grade. Lucky for him his teachers loved him and we worked together to get his talking under control. In 2nd grade he teacher also really liked him and was quite lax with B. As far as I could tell their were several more naughty kids in his class and his talking was the least of her concerns. Then this year in Colorado B was in the full-time G/T class with his G/T teacher from last year who loved him to death. She would just go on and on about how smart and sweet and kind B was. I know teachers are not supposed to have favorite kids but I could tell B was hers. She was legally blind and had only very limited sight in one eye. B was her helper and her technology assistant as she put it. He set up the laptop, and Smart Board and generally took care of technical problems. She had a class of advanced 3/4 graders who seemed all like talkers and generally unruly when I was in the class. She got on B occasionally for talking but I don't think that often. Now comes the hard part. B needs to stop talking and disrupting but it really is a bad habit for him at this point. I am going to work with his teacher and enforce punishment at home when he is getting in trouble at school and rewarding him at the end of every week when he is good. I will also be rewarding the girls at the end of a each good week simply to be fair but their behavior at school has rarely been a problem.

B new teacher also proceeds to tell me that B is rushing through all his work and doing a poor job. He is in the G/T reading class since he reads so high but he is still in the average math class because he scored 75% on the only math test she gave him so far. Both B and Wyn are somewhat disadvantaged in the math area of this mid-year move. They both do well in math but I am finding the school here has covered topics in math they have not and vice-versa. It is not that they can't learn what has been taught there it is just that they are in this limbo stage right now. They are currently on spring break but when they go back it is a new quarter and I believe new math lessons. I am going to check with both of their teachers after the break and try to get both of them up to speed. Wyn teacher did send home her math book for her to practice over break.

I am disappointed that B is not in G/T math as well. At the end of last year he took a nationwide test in which he scored in the 99th percentile or above in both math and reading. That means he scored better than 99% of kids nationwide who took the test. I know he can do the math but I am keeping him with his regular teacher until he can prove to her that he can do well in math too.

Another piece to this puzzle is B's LOVE of reading. I have posted before how B is crazy about reading. He goes through 3 or 4 books a week and I have to take his book from him before bed or he won't stop reading. I am so excited about his love for reading but the child needs to be well-rounded. His teacher even said, " I can't force him to slow down and check his work, only encourage him, but I think he is so interested in getting back to reading his book that he rushes through everything else because he is dying to get back to his book." I hate to break it to the kid but that is not what school is about. School is not purely about pleasure reading but school is about learning. Reading is an important part of learning but not the only part.

I want B's teacher to see B for what he is and realize his true ability but she is not some miracle worker. He has to actually work to the best of his ability. His teacher is very sweet and understanding. I guess at some point in his life B was going to come across a teacher that did not think he was so great and wanted to whip him into shape. I think it is good for him and he needs it.

It is hard for me because nothing is transferring over from their old school. Their old school had their own grading system, own standards, own curriculum. I know with time my kids will prove to their new teachers and new school how smart they are but their old teachers went to great lengths to provide an accurate sampling of assessments and their work. I just don't feel that the new teachers are investigating the information out there as much as I would like. I am going to contact B's old teacher and ask for advice. His new teacher asked if he had formally been labeled as G/T which I don't think he has but his old teacher seemed to think once they saw he was receiving G/T services plus his MAPS scores she would know right where he is. The problem I am finding is that their new school does not use the same assessments and the information sent over means nothing to them.

So how does my guilt factor into all this? I know B will settle in and do just fine. Even if he is in regular math not G/T math for a couple weeks it will not kill the child. Last night laying in bed, unable to sleep, I began to feel guilty. Why did I pull the kids out of their comfortable environments at their old school. They were all doing so well. They all had great friends, knew all the teachers and were excelling. And my poor B his teacher LOVED him and since it was G/T 3/4 she would be his teacher next year. I have never seen him advance as much academically as his did this year in Colorado. He jumped 4 grades in reading levels in the first half of the year and jumped up 3 levels in spelling in the first half of the year. I can only attribute it to being surrounded by other 3/4 grade high achievers and his wonderful teacher. Even as well as he was doing in Colorado his teacher there even thought he was not always applying him self to the best of his ability, especially in the area of writing.

Was the place we were living in Colorado the be all, end all greatest place on the earth to raise children? NO! While we all liked it and had adjusted to living there the only reason we were living on the Southeast part of the Denver metro area and not the western metro area or even northern Colorado is because we had an affordable house to rent and Max was already there when we met. If I owned a place when we met Max and the girls may have very well moved in with me. If we ever moved back to Colorado would anything draw me back to Southeast Aurora besides familiarity? Not really. I was not that excited about the middle school that their elementary fed to and was planning to move the kids school in two years at the latest before B started middle school.

Will we all get through this? YES. And be stronger because of this? YES. Am I a normal mom for second guessing myself, questioning my decision, and missing home? YES. On a positive note Max's first paycheck was TWICE the take home pay of his last job. Twice sure is nice. I am meeting with a connection I found in DC this week and someone at Max's job knows a Colorado congressman who is hiring. I really love politics and loved my internship working for a lobbying firm in Denver. This may turn out to be a great thing for our whole family. Are you ready to say hi congresswoman Michelle? OK just kidding but working on Capital Hill would be my dream job.


Evolving Mommy Catherine said...

Oh Honey. B will be fine. Like you said he is very smart but sometimes the only thing comfortable does is let us get relaxed. I think new teachers a new situation will be good for him in the long run.

Lets face it with mom guilt if you don't feel guilty about one thing you feel guilty about another never goes away!

Michelle said...

Sorry this post was so long but had to say what was on my mind. My husband said it was not the easiest to follow.