Things are slowly coming unraveled for Kenny this past week, and it has led to some very frustrating moments here at home. The Control Man who appeared around Halloween has not yet left, and he has been joined by his famous sidekick, Unfocused Man. We lost 2 jackets and ended up at school yesterday morning with none...and it was 36 degrees without windchill. One was truly lost temporarily (we have since found it) and the other was once again left behind in the classroom. So, Kenny had a natural consequence to suffer of being outside before morning bell when it was truly cold. I didn't like watching those boney limbs with goosebumps on them as I proceeded in the building to volunteer as well as speak to his teacher, but I also do not want another winter where we permanently lose 4 jackets. Hopefully he learned his lesson. The day before he told me he didn't need to take a jacket because he wasn't cold...inside the house...and tried to argue with me about it yet still I insisted he take one and it was a balmy 40 degrees out when we hit the playground so he was mighty glad he lost that argument.
When I say Kenny argues, it is a subtle thing. He is not loud about it, he is not obnoxious about it (thankfully), he simply knows more than you do and is going to do what he wants. It is so subtle that many would miss it, instead saying "Hey, this kid is logical! He is thinking!". However, when you really look at it, see the cyclical pattern, understand the background, you realize it is because he still has yet to come to the place where he feels 100% confident that adults can take care of him and make good decisions, even if his own decisions turn out to be not so hot.
Dominick and I are biggies for respect. You do NOT argue with your parents, teachers, etc. You can state your case, in a respectful way, and we will listen with an open mind. But we ARE the parents and as I told Kenny last night "I don't care if you agree with me, in fact I will definitely make mistakes...we all do...but you will still do what I ask you to do. " then I heard the dreaded words of my mother squeeze from lips "I have been on this planet a lot longer than you have, and I know a lot more than you do."...UUUGGHHHH!!!!! It really has happened, I HAVE turned into my mother!!! :-) How funny it is when that happens.
He also is really struggling with the idea that he is not performing at the same level as everyone else. We had a really long, deep conversation about this again, re-emphasizing that his grades really can not even be considered other than for effort, as it is impossible for him to do 3rd grade work but we pointed out just how much he has learned already this year. It is hugely measurable already, which amazes me. He said "I think I never get A's like Matthew." and I explained that no, right now he probably wouldn't, but we weren't looking for grades at all for him, instead we are looking for his best effort at all times and one day in a few years his grades will be important but not now.
Last night he was doing a writing assignment, which was a summary of something he read. He read an entire Dr. Seuss book all by himself, and last week read Green Eggs and Ham almost totally by himself. When the time came for the writing, instead of a summary which he definitely knows how to do, he elected to open the book and copy the pages, then asked me to check his work. I knew, of course, instantly that he had copied it...everything was spelled right! I made him redo it, much to his chagrin, and I realized as he said "But momma, this is right and what I write not ever right!" that we need to make some changes here, as his focus on grades and doing things right is going to distract him from the real purpose, learning.
His teacher called out of the blue last night to just chat about how things are going, as I had spoken with her yesterday and told her we are having issues at home and I wanted to know if she was having them at school, to which she replied "no, things are fine and his behavior is awesome." which I was pleased to hear. Kenny has forgotten homework at home two or three times this week which is not usual for him, he has come home without assignments, he has forgotten what his instructions were, it literally took us 15 minutes to get out the door yesterday morning as we waited for him to get everything together.
She and I both came to the same conclusion, we need to throw away grades for awhile which she reminded me was something I actually brought up at the beginning of the year as it is almost impossible to grade him in any meaningful way given the constraints of the typical A-F system. He IS learning, and at a rapid rate...but not measurable in their scale. He can't compare himself to others right now, it isn't fair nor worthwhile (Is it ever anyway?). She is absolutely the perfect teacher for him, and she really cares about his success. She expects nothing less than his best, and yet recognizes what he is unable to produce and tries to grade accordingly. But he is focusing too much on perfection which is unattainable right now.
We also spoke again about retention if necessary, and about how much school Kenny will realistically miss this year. I explained some of his fears of surgery and that I expect things to get tough in the weeks before it is scheduled as he frets over what he will have to face. She understood and was quite compassionate. We talked about our adoption trip and how that long absence will affect him, but the more important gains to be made by being with us, processing his own adoption experience from a different perspective, etc. She really heard me as I explained that my concerns are not just about his education, but about his soul, his heart. She seems to understand that Kenny is learning all kinds of important things in his life right now, not just his ABC's. We are very lucky to have her in our corner and if he has to repeat a grade we couldn't have a better advocate for Kenny than her.
So we continue to muddle along, wondering if we are indeed making the right choices, if we are being too firm or too lax, if we are being the kind of parents Kenny needs. We do our best, and question ourselves constantly. Each decision right now seems so important.
Today Kenny and I have a lot of alone time as we drive to and from his dentist office 2 1/2 hours away. We'll do some talking, we'll share some thoughts, we'll see if we can get the train back on track. After all, derailments are only temporary, the trains always run again.