Kindergarten 11-6-13 Tattoos, and being “in”

One of my students was out sick today. I had V and J. It is a beautiful fall day and they were more interested in going outside to play than working. To be honest, so was I. Sometimes the playground is a better place to learn the real lessons.

The teacher left me a note that V had told her Mom that she didn’t want to come to school anymore because it is too hard. The teacher is traumatized by this. What do you do to engage a child who wants to be anywhere but there?

And then I looked around at the classroom. The two girls who had cried the first week that they didn’t want to be there, that they missed their Mom, they were still there. May be they had forgotten their anxiety. May be they had gotten distracted. Maybe it had gotten better.

Being a kindergartner is a bit like being a mental patient. You say you want to leave, and sure, you can, but it isn’t easy. It is hard to remember whatever you want to do for very long. Your mind flits around quite a bit.

Leaving school is completely the wrong thing for her. Since her home life is so messed up right now with her Mom in rehab, staying home would be impossible. She doesn’t know yet that education is her only way out of that hole. If you can read and you are curious, you can escape the terrible situation you were born into. It doesn’t even matter what you are taught at school – you have access to libraries so you can self-teach.

But, we are here, in this moment, and the teacher and I are trying to get her to just stay with us for now. Just stay, and try. Hopefully we can inspire her to “get” school. Hopefully we can engage her just long enough for her to work up a head of steam to see that school is the cure, not the problem.

We played the Dora alphabet game. It was fun! I love board games, so I’m glad I could play this with her. It teaches colors and counting and the alphabet and vocabulary. She did very well. There was another tutor nearby (a friend of mine) and she was encouraging her student. We could hear her say “I’m so proud of you” to her student and V. whipped her head around towards her words. It is obvious she is hungry for affirmation. I praise her, but is it ever enough?

She had drawings on her arm. I asked if she had done that and she said that her Dad did. She said that he made tattoos. To give a show of solidarity I showed her the tattoos I have in my leg. I knew I wore a skirt for a reason today. Usually I wear pants or a really long skirt so they don’t see my tattoos. Tattoos aren’t as taboo as they were, but they still have some stigma. She saw my tattoos and I was “in.” We are part of the same tribe.

J still doesn’t know the alphabet. Still. There are four different people working with him. I’m starting to think that he can do better but he likes the attention. I’m just not sure what tool is required to get into his head. He has to do better. There are certainly impulse and anger issues. I suspect his parents don’t work with him at home either.

I get so frustrated with how many children are seen as an afterthought. It isn’t their fault that they were conceived. There has to be a better way of getting young people to understand the huge responsibility that is being a parent – before they can become parents. No child should be unwanted or unloved.

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