‘What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men …… That is what love looks like.’ - St. Augustine

Monday, October 20, 2008

Now I Know Why God Gave Me That Gratitude Day Yesterday...

...because He knew that today the you-know-what would hit the fan! I'm guessing God wanted that gratitude to be fresh in my mind while I was dealing with a very angry girl today.

Anastasia has dug her heels in. Ever since the fire drill episode, school has been a hard pill for her to swallow. It is not getting any easier, as I had hoped. Each day becomes an emotional mountain to climb, and I feel like I'm losing my will to get to the top! It is so hard to know what is best. Everyone, and I mean e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e, has opinions about it. All these 'opinions' do not make my decision any easier! Anyway, here is some of the history of the school situation, to give you a better perspective:

Anastasia started 6th grade in August 2005. She had been home just over three months. I had planned on sending her to the local elementary school down the street, but after an attempted visit in June, I realized that would not work for her. She was absolutely terrified - the building was too big, too noisy, the lights were too bright, the classes too large...you get the picture. She froze just inside the door and would not move. Later attempts to get her in the door proved futile. So I opted for the local public charter school. The building was cozier, more home-like, the population was smaller, the lighting was less severe, and the classrooms more relaxed. Although she missed a great deal of school that first year and I was called to the school several times a week because of her meltdowns, there were minor successes, and she did have a great teacher who was willing to go above and beyond for my daughter.

Seventh grade started badly, and only got worse. New teacher, new classroom, new format of switching classes....by January, the school felt they could not handle her outbursts. They asked me (er, insisted) on a switch to the regular middle school. They felt it would offer her more support and a more comprehensive therapeutic program. Anastasia loved the idea of leaving the charter school. She was not getting along at all with her new teachers, and had resorted to throwing chairs and slamming doors. I was used to being called to the school almost every day. She thought she could have a "new start" at this new school. " Nobody will know me!" she explained. We tried a slow transition, but, as expected, it was too much for her. I ended up homeschooling her from April onwards.

For eighth grade we homeschooled the entire year, and I was actually stunned by the results. She was more regulated, had less anxiety, was opening up more to others, was making better choices about her behavior, and generally was more fun to be around! One of the best results? I have to admit, it was that there were no more morning meltdowns. We had a great time reading together, visiting museums, making our own schedule, following her interests instead of a set curriculum. It felt like the perfect choice for us both -- except for the inevitable 'concerns' of family and friends. It really got tiring getting so much unsolicited advice about her schooling. I mean, I live with my daughter every day. I see the struggle up close. It was infuriating to me to have family and friends thinking they knew better. I never asked any of their opinions on the matter, but they gave them --and often -- nonetheless.

At the end of this last homeschooling year, she decided she wanted to try school again. She was afraid she might be missing out on making friends. She wanted to be 'normal' (her words.) Long, heartfelt discussions followed. I did not want us to be making this choice lightly. I wanted her to understand that she could not go back on her terms (show up only when she felt like it). In the end, with much thought and sleepless nights, I decided to send her back. She would be repeating eighth grade, for many reasons: The transition to a new building would be too stressful for her, she was still behind academically, socially she was not nearly ready for high school, and she needed the comfort of a familiar environment. Socially and emotionally, she was much closer to her thirteen year old peers, anyway. I worked closely with the school to create the best schedule for her. The therapist agreed that half-days were best. She would only be there until 12:40pm each day.

So, she began her 2nd eighth grade year this September with as much support in place as possible, but it is still a huge struggle. There are weekly outbursts, there are calls home most days, and there is very little academic work going on. Most of the day is spent trying to re-direct her and keep her on task. She walks out of classes frequently and goes to her 'safe' room. She refuses to do work. She screams at the teachers. She rages. She of course has had some wonderful successes there, too, but they are few and far between these days. I'm at a loss.

I've got a call into the therapist to see if I should reconsider homeschooling. I am so torn. I want what is best for her and, right now, I honestly do not know what that is. Do I take the pressure off her, homeschool her, and allow some real learning (academically speaking) to take place? Or do I do everything I can to keep her in school, facing the daily fear, in hopes she will learn it is a safe place for her to be? For now, I'm just waiting for wisdom, and hoping the next morning will offer a miraculous reprieve...


  1. Gotta love the ride, don't ya?

    Best wishes with your decision. I know it isn't an easy one.

  2. i'll break from the norm and NOT give you an opinion, k?! just hope your days get better and you both figure it out and she learns to enjoy it!

  3. i'm always full of opinions, advice, etc... but would NEVER ever expect or demand you do what i'm advising, because it's always your choice in what to do next.

    anyone who gives you grief for making your own life choices??? they should walk a day in your shoes.

    on that note -- instead of advice i send love and support.


  4. Thanks everyone, and Chris: keep your opinions coming. I value your opinion bc it never comes with any judgement. I'm just stressed by the family & friends who think they know better. That drives me nuts!

  5. Because you are her mom and spent last year with her 24/7, sounds to me like you know her inside and out. Bottom line is that family and friends aren't her mom. They need to butt out! My suggestion (I'm not calling it an opinion,heehee) is to go with your heart. Is there a homeschooling coop or group within your area? Good luck, know the ragin' feelin' except my ds hits, kicks, and bites AND he's 11!


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