Thursday, March 29, 2012


Shhh . . . This is a secret just between us.

Yesterday, we played hooky.

Boo woke up late; I woke up later. She crawled into my bed and said, "Mama, I'm ready for homeschool." I thought, "I'm not."

Then I remembered the email we had received the night before. We found it at about 11:00 p.m. It was from Boo's teacher. Her teacher clarified our misconception about Boo's reading improvement. We thought that going from a level 18 to a level 24 was six levels up; it's only two. We also didn't realize that when Boo dropped from a 20 to an 18 she had only dropped one level. Nor did we understand that getting from level 24 to 28 is only one level. All of these ups and downs seem like a much bigger deal when you actually know how to count by ones. If counting by twos, then fours, the levels seem almost arbitrary.

But then her teacher was . . . not nice. She had called me last week to report the improvement in Boo's reading level, but assured me that Boo will never pass level 28 because she can't respond to her reading in writing. Okay. Negative, but we can work on that during our two and a half hours in the morning. It's a good and important skill, and Boo certainly has a hard time writing her ideas clearly. We work on writing every day, but we can incorporate that.

Again, she addressed Boo's behavior in class: she's talking back now, still not focused, not following directions. Talking back is unacceptable. I will address that with her. The other two seem to be her teacher's biggest concerns, or she wouldn't have asked, "Have you met with your pediatrician yet?"

What? She filled out the Conners test even though we told her we'd rather talk with a mental health professional, and now she's asking if we've gone to our pediatrician? I said, "I mentioned it to him, but we have not followed through with a diagnosis."

James was sitting next to me, seething. When he received a friendly email from her later that night, letting us know the read-a-thon would be in the afternoon to accommodate Boo's morning homeschool schedule, we were glad. Since she asked if I had told him about our phone conversation, he decided to reply. He clearly told her that we have researched ADHD and don't want to discuss it further with her, and we don't want it to be a part of her behavior plan. He was firm but polite.

I think that's when he hurt her feelings or sent her into a fury. In that late-night email she told us that we are limiting our daughter's "potential and ability to succeed in life."

We were ready to pull her out of the class completely. We were ready to tell the principal that she has a mean, vindictive second-grade teacher on her hands. We were ready to cry.

Instead of crying, I let Boo dress up for the day--all day. And skip school. And learn to sew. And eat pancakes. And go on an adventure.

She told me she sometimes feels "overwhelmed" at school. She gets frustrated because of the "reminders" her teacher gives, reminders to stay on task, reminders to stop talking. I tried to talk through her feelings and get to the core issue. I think, mostly, Boo gets tense and emotional when she receives any kind of criticism. She doesn't know how to deal with her feelings of insecurity, feelings that may be linked with her intense fear of abandonment.

Boo, Ji, and I walked to the library. Boo had her Rapunzel dress on and a flower wreath in her hair. Ji was Batman with cape and cowl. We picked out too many books and The Court Jester and met up with Daddy. We bought candies and bubbles and sidewalk chalk. Ji's laughter was encouragement enough to keep blowing bubbles. Boo danced in the backyard with her bubble wand. Later Boo made a fort out of blankets and chairs in our living room.

Boo told me yesterday that I'm the best mama ever. Except I still feel sort of guilty for pulling her out of school for the day.

And then I remember her face when we saw the daffodils and tulips coming up in a neighbor's flowerbeds. And I remember the joy of the sunshine and breeze. I think of Ji pulling down books and books, wanting all of them to come home with us. I picture Boo running to hug her daddy when he walked through the library doors.

It was a magic day.

I need to let go of the guilt and remember the magic.


  1. I'm a little late on this post clearly, since it was written over a year ago. But I am APPALLED at your experiences with this teacher. Appalled, but not necessarily surprised. It's revolting what some teachers can do and get away with. Working in the special education community, I've seen things I can't believe. The special ed community is small, however. Unfortunately, it's almost standard to have all sorts of problems when your child is in a special ed program. But you guys are encountering this in a mainstream classroom! And obviously this teacher hasn't learned ANYTHING from your exchanges. And pushing her opinion of what you should be doing with your daughter on you guys is completely unacceptable. Since this post is old, I sure hope that you guys survived the rest of the school year, and that Boo was given a better teacher the next time around. Kids deserve better than teachers who only see black and white and therefore punish the kids who show a little color. It's just really too bad.

  2. Thanks for your words, even if they are a little belated. Boo was able to finish out second grade all right, and she had a wonderful third grade teacher. Her teacher this last year was very sweet and sort of spacy. Boo loved that she made them laugh every day. We wrote a letter to the principal again asking for a similar classroom environment for next year. I think as long as she has a teacher who can work with her strengths and weaknesses, she'll be fine. Thanks again.