Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hush Your Mouth!

I am having issues with Viva’s school – more on that later – and I have been trying to get in touch with their principal to address them. She returned my call today and said, “I assume you’re calling about the incident on Friday?”

To which I responded, “What incident on Friday?”

Oh, Lord. The kids went on a field trip on Friday and were waiting in line to get on a merry-go-round. There was the usual pushing and shoving, and apparently some child pushed Viva, so Viva punched her. Then one of the moms who was helping to chaperone said, “No, no, no – Viva, no hitting!”

To which my child (yes, mine) replied: “What do you care? You’re not my mother!”

Wow. I was floored. We have been having some trouble with Viva over the past few weeks because she has become very mouthy. In fact, right now she is on punishment for a week because she mouthed off to her daddy over the weekend. Clearly, whatever we have been telling her about her mouth and having respect for other people is not working.

Man, if I ever said something like that and the principal called my mom to talk about it? Whew! Shit. I would rather not go home. Life would be very unpleasant.

I responded that this is a new thing, very uncharacteristic of Viva (to which the principal agreed, as Viva is most often the kid who gets stickers and treats for being so well-behaved, such a good listener, etc.). I have never had a bad report about her – usually if the school calls me, it’s because she is either sick or some other kid hit/bit/kicked her or something. I asked for the child’s name so I could make sure Viva apologized to her, and for the mom’s name, so Viva and I could apologize to her together.

I also told the principal that while I am not trying to make excuses for Viva, she has been very unhappy with the school’s camp program this year. She has had a different teacher virtually every week, and no one has communicated with us about this at all. The woman who was supposed to be her teacher, who Viva loved and whose class she wanted to be in, quit unexpectedly because the other kindergarten teacher gave notice and the school administration expected her to teach two classrooms’ worth of kids. The only reason I know this is because one of the other parents called me at work and told me. No one at the school communicated to me at all.

So Viva was already heartbroken that she lost one teacher, but she quickly regrouped when Mrs. H. began teaching the summer program. Mrs. H. is a fourth-grade teacher who was supposed to substitute for the whole summer. Viva told me she liked her and was now happy with school. So we had Mrs. H. for two weeks and then we went on vacation. When we returned, Mrs. H. was gone on vacation and Mrs. R, the Spanish teacher, was filling in. Viva was glum.

“She is not a good teacher,” she said. “She thinks we’re babies. She makes us sing Barney songs!” I told her to grit her teeth and be patient, that Mrs. H. would be back next week. This would be fine, except that I was wrong. Mrs. H. was not back. She was moved to another class and an 80-year-old teacher’s aide is now in charge of the class. Viva is now really unhappy and confused, and I’m really ticked off.

“Well, we hired a new teacher, Miss W. She’ll be starting Monday, and she’ll be Viva’s teacher for the whole school year,” the principal said.

Great, so now she has to adjust to yet another teacher. It occurs to me that when it appears that the grownups don’t know what’s going on, and the whole routine is off-kilter, it makes the kids feel really insecure. Viva misses her Pre-K teacher, so she’s already unhappy about that, and now after three teachers in four weeks, she is going to get a new teacher again. How this new person is going to get any respect from these kids is beyond me. I can see why Viva might be acting out a bit. (Not that I am making excuses.)

But moreover, getting back to “the incident” at the merry-go-round, I am really pissed off that this happened on Friday and I’m just hearing about it today. Had I known about it the day it happened, I could have addressed it then and our weekend would have been very different (Viva had her cousins over for a camp-out and a sleepover, with all the attendant treats and privileges). It’s well after the fact now, and it’s not fresh.

So it was especially timely that I came across this entry from CityMama:
'Ohana means family (and sometimes you learn that the hard way)

It made me nostalgic for my mom’s old neighborhood, where if you did something bad up the block, your mama knew about it before you even walked home (and you got a talking-to from every other grownup on the street on your way home) . I feel the parents in Viva’s class are a pretty tight-knit group and we can pretty much correct each other’s kids with impunity, so I am doubly appalled that Viva would respond this way to someone’s mom.

And I already ratted her out to Sweet Dub. She is in for one hell of a talking-to on the way home. Further bulletins as events unfold.


Mango Mama said...

MBB, You're right, kids crave consistency. The turnover you described made my head spin.

Miss Viva is also trying to get her head around the upcoming arrival of the new Baby Blah Blah. I remember how my daughter, Miss Olivia, responded and it was completely out of character.

Patience mama--- patience.

Lisa Blah Blah said...

MM: the new teacher starts today. I'm anxiously awaiting Viva's report after school!

I had the same thought that Viva is also processing the new baby coming. Combined with the school upheaval, it is really a lot of changes to cope with! I am trying to be as understanding as possible. I will remember your advice. Deep breaths!