Sunday, January 22, 2012

Reliving The Past......

School never came easy for me. Even when I was in Elementary school, it never was easy for a variety of reasons. One reason was I started young, I have a September birthday, and although the teachers said I was socially above average (even then I was a social bug), I had a difficult time processing the things in my brain in order to communicate them verbally or written.
In the first grade, I had a teacher who was very hard on me. She did not seem to be able to tolerate my need for more or different instruction or direction. I never felt what I did was good enough and began to fear trying because no matter how hard I tried it wasn't good enough.
I believe everyone has the need to be praised and strive to please to some degree- some more than others- and some, like me, too much. So, when I began getting sad faces with tears drawn going down the page on my class work- I would hide them from my parents because I feared disappointing them. I also began to hide my work from my teacher in school because I would rather be in trouble for not having it done or losing it than to chance myself being marked by another sad face. I also feared asking for help, because weakness, or not understanding, was just not okay. That sad face, to me, represented an emotion of disappointment, failure, stupidity, weakness, inadequacy. I'm sure many others who were/are graded with that type of system, it probes them to try harder- which I know that's what it is intended for- but it did no such thing for me. In fact, the exact opposite, it kind of strangled me.

Mom with Tenly

My wonderful mom, has always been very intuitive, she very quickly saw how I was retreating and beginning to give up and recognized the connection it had to school. Some may find it odd and petty that I, and others, would be so strongly effected by something as "simple" as a sad face- but my mom went with that gut feeling- that mom's know so well, and decided she would fight for my self esteem, self confidence, self worth, emotions, and education. She had many meetings with the teacher trying to help her understand that this grading system was having a very bad impact on me. Things changed, but I still dreaded going to that classroom, I honestly remember absolutely dreading it- as a 6 year old. I was held back in the first grade by my parents, and finally began flourishing during my second year in 1st grade with my teacher Mrs. Lay. She went over and beyond the call of duty making sure she would do what was within her power and ability to rebuild what had been crushed. I hope I am able to thank her one day for her kindness and willingness to make a difference, and not do what was easy, but she dig deep to find what would work.
Throughout my life, I have struggled with my self confidence and still do at times. Watching myself strive for attention and being eager to please is not a trait I am proud of. Sometimes, now in my mature 30's, I find myself standing on the side lines refraining from doing something or talking to someone because I fear it will be viewed as desperation or a need for attention. Did some of this stem out of deep rooted things that came from sad faces and humiliation in the 1st grade? Maybe it didn't, but I'm pretty confident it did. You know, I was hurt- just because the mark/scar that was placed on me could not be seen, does not mean it's not there.
I'm reflecting back on these not so pleasant memories because of a little situation we faced with Tenly this past week. I actually put it in my status on Facebook and was taken aback and enlightened on the feedback from it. Tenly was given a sad face, her second one of the year (she, to my surprise, was keeping count)- and her reaction to it scared me and pained me. The pain because it hurts to see your child hurt, and scared me because I feared watching her go through what I did. It pained me so badly to see my child hurt in that way, I had to leave the room more than once to cry myself- I could feel myself reliving it. If she wouldn't have had much of a reaction to it, I would of been proud that she saw it as an opportunity to try harder. But, to my dismay, that was not the case.
Tenly shared with me that at school she cried, was very sad and did not want to go back. (Now, keep in mind, that has never been the case and she adores her teacher.) When I questioned why, she began to cry as she explained she had received a sad face, her second one, and Mrs. C was disappointed and sad with her because she could not try hard enough. I began to encourage her and explained what Mrs. C had intended by giving her that sad face, and that we just needed to continue to try hard. All she kept processing was that Mrs. C was sad with her, and her "smart brain" could not try hard enough anymore.
While doing her homework later, we struggled for her to even put anything on the paper because it might be wrong and if it was wrong she would get another sad face. It got to the point that we left it and have continued to go back and try throughout the weekend, because she just could not get past the fear of a sad face. Mind you, in times past, Mrs. C typically writes "practice at home", "work on this skill", "needs more practice", "keep trying". Tenly has always responded very well to these notes, and embraces continuing to practice or work on whatever skill necessary.

A "You CAN Do It" moment

Many people thought/think I am blowing this out of proportion and making a bigger deal out of it than it is, because I am going to ask for a conference to brainstorm with Mrs. C a more appropriate way of grading Tenly, that will encourage her rather than discourage her. And, maybe I am making a big deal out of nothing, maybe I am reacting out of the fear of what I went through as a child. But, I am going to follow in my wise mother's footsteps and ask God to guide me as I ensure Tenly will have the education she needs to make her successful.
I may be an overprotective, panicky, petty, pain-in-the-butt, erring on the side of caution, Momma- but I can live with those titles for my kids. I would always rather be over cautious than under cautious.

1 comment:

  1. You are doing the right hting Momma- I am totally behind you on this conference thing, and am losing patience with those who keep telling you it is not a big deal.