Life With Nine Kids

Friday, January 20, 2012

The first 3 days of Layla at public school...what a emotional ride. I can't believe I'm still standing.

Follow up to this post
We are now a homeschool and public school family...

Layla's first day of school I drove her, walked her in and we had breakfast together. She was calm, happy and very interested in everything. I noticed a TV in the lunch room and told myself to not pay attention to it being there, and on. I was really trying to be open minded. We enjoyed breakfast we brought, met the lunch ladies and went back to her class. At class they have a worksheet to do before actual school starts..this is the time when students arrive first thing or if they are coming from breakfast at school. I helped read Layla her directions (ABC order paper). A few students didn't seem to understand the ABC paper. When they asked the teacher she said you know ABC, look at the wall. I really like her, but I think a couple kids needed help, like right then. :/

Her teacher had Layla's desk all ready with crayons, folders, pencils and erasers. It was was very inviting. The students were chatting us up and were very friendly! Little kids were telling us what to do, giving us advice. (Big coats for outside and bring 50 cent pretzel money if you want one on Friday!) I was impressed by the sweet kids.

I left her and told her I'd return for lunch. When I showed up at lunch the class was already in the lunch room. (I thought about how not one teacher I had growing up ever sat in the cafeteria with the classroom and ate lunch. I think that would had been nice.)
I found Layla sitting with a couple girls. They had brought their lunches and as I sat down the girl sitting next to me said, "I told her you'd probably be here any minute." I thought that was incredibly sweet. I thanked her. Layla and I unpacked ham roll ups (cream cheese, lettuce, ham in rolled into a tortilla), juice and carrots. As we ate more children joined us. The table was about half boys and half girls. All of the first graders were nice, at least half of them chatted me up like little adults and had me in stitches! These kids were so well adjusted, polite, kind, friendly. I wish I could tell their parents. They told us stories about the year: fun things, pizza parties, pajama day, contests, they discussed who won various things, I learned of book fairs, and snacks at recess. Layla was reminded again about pretzel Friday. They had me laughing and smiling. Layla was quiet but engaged.

I chatted with Layla a bit and asked how recess was, she said they watched a movie.

A lunch lady we had not seen before started clearing tables, hushing kids and yelling at kids from afar. I leaned into Layla and told her I saw a mean lunch lady. Watch out for her, I joked. (No, seriously!)
I wondered why or how anyone who looked so cranky and talked so cranky would work with children. :( She was really looking nasty-mean at the children!

I'd be such a silly lunch lady...
"Quiet children or I'll release the crocodiles out into the lunch room, and you'll have no crocodile burgers for lunch tomorrow!"
"Hey stop throwing away food and eat what you take, or I'll put it in a doggie bag and tell your mother you're bringing home dinner tonight."
"Frog stew tomorrow!"
"Who is making all that noise? I'll have you rubbing my stinky feet after school."

Ok kidding about the last one. But really, kids enjoy fun and silliness. It's not lost on them.

When our table was cleared we didn't get snarled at by the mean lady and we headed for line to wait to get taken back to class. While in line some lady stood waiting for the rest of the class to join us. The kids talked to me more. We were taken back to class and the kids told me and Layla that art was on Friday. They told us Layla needed shoes for P.E. A funny boy said he was not excited about dancing in P.E. This kid cracked me up, he was so cute and funny. He was really grown up for 1st grade lol. I could tell the lady taking us to class wished the kids would shut up. I was enjoying every minute of it. I suddenly remembered that I would have made a good elementary teacher ... or mom of seven. I was relieved to realize I was a mom of seven.

Once back at the classroom the lady who lead us there ordered the kids to sit NOW and draw, or finish up work. I told myself it was ok, just ignore her. Then she snapped for kids to get a book if they didn't have work. A dozen kids went to the book shelf including Layla. Instantly the lady said, "hurry!" and started counting, "1...2......3. Sit down."
She left the room. I was glad she left but then wondered why a classroom full of kids would be left alone after lunch. A student asked for my help to read him his homework. I helped him sound out words. Another student asked me to help him too. I helped him fill in the blanks with the right words. These two kids were really struggling with their papers. I enjoyed helping them and they seemed to really like me. I should be a teachers aide I thought. You know because I totally have time for that. ;)
I hate seeing kids struggle in school. I want to give them a lollipop and tell them to go outside and play. So far that's worked out okay at our house.

One boy said to me, "No more recesses, we are all done for the day." This was depressing to me. I was really proud of myself for being so open minded in this situation. I was really open to the idea that if Layla likes this then it's okay. I wasn't going to say one negative thing, I was going to put negative things in a file in my brain so I could record them on paper only.

I left Layla at school once her teacher was back in the room. I made sure Layla wanted to ride the bus home still an she did. The bus would drop her right off in front of our house.

Back at home we did our school and played catch up from the past two days being a whirlwind of crazy.

Once her bus arrival time was drawing near I bundled up and headed outside. Charlotte was excited and came out too. The other kids watched Everett and looked out the window. I saw the bus coming up our hill. Charlotte clutched her camera. We jumped up and down. We were so excited to watch Layla step off that bus! 

The bus came closer and closer and closer... it didn't stop. It went right by and it I felt like I was in a dream or a movie. I looked at the bus number. It was hers. I wanted to run after the bus, I told myself not to be crazy --she hadn't been kidnapped. Charlotte was in shock and said she thinks she saw Layla. My cell phone was in my pocket and I started dialing the school. Being after school time their phone was jammed. I called six times and couldn't get through. I told Charlotte to go in and watch the baby and that I'd drive to the school. I jumped in the Excursion and there were no keys. Charlotte wasn't in the house yet, I kept a sense of humor, laughed and said, "I'm trying to drive the car with no keys!" I dialed the school again and this time I got somebody. They told me they would call transportation right then. So I paced in my driveway in the cold and assured myself I wasn't THAT worried, she'd get home. The worst thing that would happen would be she'd be taken back to school. I was just so worried she was scared, that would be the worst thing, if she was really scared. Then I remembered this was Layla I was talking about, she's super tough. The school got back with me and the bus driver said he didn't get a bus pass from her, wasn't told by transportation that he had a new stop, and that he'd be at our house in 15 minutes. When they arrived the driver was super nice and explained again he didn't know and she should have a bus pass and he guesses they didn't give her one. She was fine but quiet. Everyone was excited to see her, she said hello to everyone and everything was fine. She smiled about the bus thing and said she wasn't too worried just confused. I asked her if she'd ride it again or if she wants me to take her/pick her up. She said shed ride again. I was impressed.

She did her homework readily as I explained in the first installment of the going to public school tale (link above). She was excited for another day.

Layla woke up easily and got ready quickly. This would be the first time she rode the bus to school. Everything went off without a hitch and she bugged me for a half hour after she was ready, "Is it time yet? How about now? Now? When?" She was looking forward to her day. I walked her out and the bus stopped and off she went. I was so proud. Then I cried a little.

I didn't like this. Not one bit. I wanted her back. I told myself I'd rather have her happy at school than home and miserable. I folded clothes and thought about the weekend. I had a moment of realizing 'Oh yeah! I get weekends with her.'  It was a weird moment. Charlotte complained that she was gone too long during the day, I agreed.

Aunt Sharon and Grandma Wanda were coming over to visit and play. They helped us fold our huge sock bag of mismatched socks. They helped fold hot laundry that I churned it out. We talked, had root beer floats and waited for Layla. Aunt Sharon brought us dinner to bake! A pan of lasagna, a pan of eggplant Parmesan and french bread. -Yes, I'm totalllly spoiled, tell me something I don't know :)

When her bus arrival time was close we went outside. Sharon was now jumping up and down at the side of the road in excitement. I loved it. I loved that she was as excited as Charlotte and I were yesterday. Then I told her that's exactly how I was until the bus drove by!!! (I called her while I was waiting for the bus, and we laughed nervously about it, so she was on the phone during it all!)

The bus pulled up and out popped our little Layla. The bus driver shouted out, "I won't forget this stop!" It was funny. (She still had no bus pass...?)

We bombarded Layla with hugs and questions and she was interested by some questions and ignored others. She got out her folder and showed me work. She got right to work on her homework.

Learning more about her day I found out she couldn't go outside because she didn't finish some work. I grumbled a little disapproving growl but then caught myself and quieted down. Charlotte reacted too and I had to shoosh her. I covered it and asked Layla how she felt about it. She replied, "I didn't care, I figured it was too cold out anyway." I later told Charlotte that we can't let our opinions shape hers. We can't tell her staying in is bad and wrong, that needs to come from her. This is an extremely  SORE spot for me and Charlotte because being made to stay in from recess was one of 3 huge reasons Charlotte came home from public school and never went back. It crushed her spirit.

Everything was fine that evening. Ricky helped her with her homework and then I read everyone stories. She looked happy and slept peacefully.

Layla woke up, got dressed and sat waiting. She didn't want breakfast (she's like me, hard to eat so early). I gave her her lunch and told her what was in it. She didn't like something. I asked her what. She ran out of the room.

I knew right there, the day was over. OVER. This kind of thing happens at our house 4x a week. Layla flips out.

I asked her what I could make different. She wouldn't talk. She was so angry she couldn't see straight. Was this about lunch? Probably not. Was it triggered by lunch, it looked like it. She has sensory issues and emotional issues and has since she was 2-3 months old. She said she didn't want to go to school, I couldn't get out of her why. I told her she needed to tell me why. She wouldn't. I gave her 15 minutes to cool off, nothing changed. I cried and told her it breaks my heart to see her like this, I told her I just want to help her. I told her I was angry when I was little too, and I didn't know why. I told her I could try and help her. Nothing. She was nothing but MAD. Usually if I can cry (and I rarely cry even when I'm sad) she is pulled out of this mood a little by sympathy for me. I texted Ricky about what was going on and he called me, which made me cry to him.

I pulled her outside and put her coat on her. I told her the bus was coming and she needed to tell me why she didn't want to go. I NEED a reason. I need to know WHY. She cried, hugged me and said, "I don't want to go Mommy!" If she calls me mommy she's scared, really sad, or in a super sweet mood. She sounded really sad. (Plus she was hugging me, she never does that when she's mad.) The bus came by and she ran inside. I waved the bus to pass us up.

Once inside it didn't take long for anger to come back. I noticed she had thrown her folder, her shoes and her lunch all over the living room. She had to unzip her backpack to get to the folder and lunch. She came out of the bathroom wearing her pajamas. She sulked on the couch in anger.

I made coffee. I did laundry. I tended to the other kids and we started our morning. Before it was time for school I asked her if she wanted me to drive her to school, it was a no. I periodically asked her if she wanted me to drive her to school.

I called the school and talked to the counselor explaining about her mood issues and sensory issues as a baby. I wanted to keep an open line of communication going and let the school know Layla may be fine one day and not the next and that I was going to do everything I could to get her back to class. The last thing I need is a school barking truancy down my neck, which I truly don't see as an issue. The lady was very attentive and kind. She seemed very perceptive and laughed and agreed at all the right times and when I was using flippant laughter. (Like about nature vs nurture and how did this happen when we did everything right.) The lady asked if I wanted to force Layla into school with help, and leave her there. I told her I wasn't against that idea when it seems right for the right type of child but Layla has never done well with that. I explained that I had left her at homeschool classes, and gym before with bad results. She said something like, 'then that will not work.' I was glad she trusted me about it. In the end she suggested we talk to our family Dr. in case they had recommendations for counselling. I thought it was cool she threw the ball back in my court after our discussion.

After a while Layla was mean to one of the little kids, I don't remember who, so I told her she can't be around us. I took her upstairs three times before she stayed there. After about a half hour I was on my bed with Everett watching Sebastian and Penelope do online school together. Layla came into my room and I convinced her to lay in bed with me and Everett. She was angry for a few minutes but then giggled at Everett's baby charm. (He often brings her out of a bad mood with baby cuteness). I told her it was snack time at school and almost recess. I asked her if I could take her now. Nope. I tried to talk to her about what was so upsetting and how she felt and why. She wasn't interested. She told me she wasn't going back to school.

 She started getting back to her normal self and didn't have anger anymore. I let a half hour go by and I tried having a heart to heart with her about her anger. I explained that when she was little (from 3 months to 4 years old) I could soothe her. She was sad and mad a lot, but she always had me. She nursed when she was a sad, hungry or lonely baby and she held my hair and rubbed it on her face. I told her how she loved my hair (I knew that she vividly remembers that). I told her we could never figure out why she would be so upset even back then. I said, "Sometimes bad things happen to kids and it hurts them and makes them sad and angry, but we could never figure out what was making you so mad and sad because you were with us all the time. No one was hurting you or being mean to you. You weren't in a home that had fighting or anger... So what we did was kept loving you, and kept helping you because it was what you needed even if we didn't understand why, and even though it was hard that you needed me ALL the time I still did it." I explained to her that when she was away from me she'd cry uncontrollably. She listened and looked me in the eyes. I told her that now she is bigger she doesn't have a way to deal with the bad feelings, anger and sadness she gets. I told her that for a long time she has been doing it all alone and it seems to make her feel lonely and even angrier. She listened more. I told her we just had to find a way that she could deal better, anything to help her feel safe while she feels this way. Tomorrow I'll talk to her again about it and see if it helped at all. Tomorrow we are also going to try and buy P.E. shoes.

The rest of the day was a perfect homeschool day. I couldn't have imagined it without her. Even if I was actually trying over and over throughout the day to get her back to school. :(

We had a lot of fun. We learned about robots, made tin can robots, did an assignment about robots, we had a robot parade in the house with our robots to the They Might Be Giants song, Robot Parade! (blog post about it will follow) While I made dinner Layla wanted to read to me. She read two books for her public school reading log.

It's the weekend. Rest, love, and peace to the house. 
We will deal with this how we've always been dealing...

          time ... 


Meghan said...

I don't know you personally, but I am a member of the local homeschool group. I have been following your blog for a few months now. I love this post! I love the time you took to write it. I love the dedication you show to your children. Thanks for your honesty. Your children are blessed with awesome parents!

Molly said...

Oh, interesting! I'm catching up after having sent my other comment!

Mom of a bunch of great kids... said...

Hi Meghan,
Thank you so much for the kind words! I love writing, thanks for reading!
Shauna :)