Monday night I kept pinching myself, partly to see if I was delusional, and partly to remind myself to just enjoy it already. Bee did her homework in the car without any hitches. No one complained when I told them what we were having for dinner. Bee set the table without complaining (or her sister arguing that she never gets a turn). We all ate nicely and had a hilarious conversation as we ate. Gracie read without talking through the entire 30 minutes, everyone showered nicely and then we actually sat down on the floor and started a massive puzzle together. It was amazing! The fabled perfect night together!
Last night? Last night was not Monday. Bee finished one of her three pages of homework in the car, but she struggled through it. And whined through the rest of it when we got home, but it wasn’t the worst meltdown ever. Dinner went well, and showers, too, but that’s when the wheels really fell off the wagon…My sobriety wagon. Heh. Just kinda sorta kidding because OHMYGOD the wheels and the wagon and the whining and the homework and the grades and the I’m never going to learn this! and the Everyone else is better/faster/smarter than me! Because I checked the girls’ Wednesday folders and inside were their progress reports. (Yes, three weeks into the school year. Little early I think, but whatcha gonna do?) These progress reports were not great: Gracie had low As and Bs – not great and not really like her, but I did see a few Bs on tests that had come home, so I didn’t think anything of it. Other than to point out to her that she has to focus and stop blowing things off; she might actually have to pay attention to what she’s doing this year.
Bee’s folder…oh, my goodness. Bee’s face just crumpled as I went over her grades. She tries so hard, but struggles for everything she earns. Yes, there are other issues that could help – like, if she paid better attention instead of getting distracted by shiny things everywhere – but she has to work harder than your average bear. I know she does. So it was hard explaining to her that she was failing Language&Comp, and Spelling, and that she had a C in Reading and Math, but she had an A in Science and a perfect 100 average in Social Studies. (That did make her smile, thank God, because my heart was breaking. Hell, it’s breaking now, just remembering.)
I told her that I had a plan to help her bring her grades up, that I would talk to her teacher and see what we could do to teach better, and what Bee could to so she could learn better. We talked about focusing and working faster, because part of Bee’s problem is that she’s not finishing most of her tests, and all those unanswered questions count against her. “But Mom,” Bee argued, choking on tears and the sad sadness of it all, “Ms. P. says to take your time!” Yes, yes we do say that. So I tried to explain how you need to go fast enough to finish your work, but slow enough to write things clearly and make sure you have the best answer. Which – how do you explain that to a 7-year-old?! “But I can’t write as fast as everyone else!” Bee wailed.
“Yet,” I told her. (Yep, I yet-ed her. I stole that perfect answer from Michelle over at BurghBaby – she’s a ninja when it comes to parenting advice. And how-to-be-a-person advice.) “If you keep practicing, it will get easier. No one knows how to do it right the first time. You have to work at it. Just like you know how to read now and last year that was tough for you.”
I spent three hours cajoling and pep-talking and soothing and reminding and helping and doing every blessed thing I could think of. Bee finally corrected all four of her failed tests? Classwork? Whatever-they-were from her folder. And then I let her have ice cream because she stuck with it and finished, even when she didn’t want to. We stayed up for another thirty minutes and then we all went to bed. We were all exhausted.
Then, just because bad sometimes gets worse, as I was typing out this sad, sad recap of my perfectly awful night (shoosh – I get to hyperbolize a bit), I got a text from Gracie’s science teacher: “We’re using a new grading system and the wrong grades were sent home. New progress reports will go home tonight.”
She uses an automated system, so I couldn’t reply to ask whether it was just for Gracie’s class, or whether the entire school’s (and more importantly, Bee’s) grades were off. Although, in all honesty, Bee’s grades can’t be that far off. I’ve seen the work sent home. But maybe those Fs were Cs? Or even Ds?
And that is why I’m banging my head against my desk, not that different from the wall-banging routine I had going on last night. What do I do if they’re the same grades? What do I do even if they aren’t? Because Bee is most definitely, certainly struggling. Do I take her to get assessed? Create a 504 or an IEP? Am I overreacting? And how much does it suck that what I really want to do is call up my mom and get her advice. And I can’t. I mean, I could, but…yeah.
Head-banging. That’s what I’m going with.