Wednesday, March 28, 2007

But she hears good for free

So now we know that Nora can see fine and that she hears like a bat. And the hearing test was free thanks to the kind intake clerk at the state health department who winked at me as she waived the fee because Nora is a pre-schooler, wink, wink. I just love folks like that who can bend a rule once in awhile especially if the benefit of the bend falls my way.
So now we also know that Nora's struggles to learn and behave in school are not related to lack of hearing or poor eye sight, so we've got that going for us. Last fall when I enrolled Nora in kindergarten because she met the age cut-off even though I could see that she was still very emotionally immature, I went ahead anyway with what I now see as a very cavalier attitude that "oh well, I can always hold her back." I'm such a cock-eyed optimist and I really really believed that my obviously bright little girl would catch up, just like YuYu who entered kindergarten at the same age and after leaving China for exactly the same length of time. But Nora is not YuYu, for damn sure, they broke the mold after they made my sweet YuYu. Nora has not caught up and she struggles with both her behavior and the academic challenges presented by the kindergarten curriculum. Like hash marks. Oh lord, looking into her eyes is still like looking into an empty handbag when I try to help her learn four sticks and a stripe mean five.
Well, now the time has come to make the decision to "retain" her in kindergarten for one more year and I'm not feeling so damn cavalier. She needs to stay back, that is clear, but it is hurting her. Nora is FIERCELY competitive, what I would call a one-upper. The kind of person, who during the course of any conversation, has done, felt, accomplished, or lived through something just a little more extreme, harder, intense or funnier than the experience you are trying to relate, and we all know how annoying that is. So my little one-upper will need to repeat kindergarten while Mimi advances to first grade and it is really troubling her now and we're just in the discussion phase. When it is real and Mimi (who is now an inch shorter than Nora although 10 months older) trots off to first grade next fall and Nora stays behind, I anticipate big, sobbing angry grief. I try so hard to present the idea to her in the form that "hey bud, some kids just need more time to learn and you will be the leader in class next year while you have more time to learn." But she is too bright for that and knows that she can't read and can't count past 10 and that the other kids are capable of doing so many things that she can't figure out yet, and it hurts her and she gets frustrated and describes herself so negatively but so matter of factly, that it hurts me.
It is the best decision, and everyone seems to agree that if a child needs to be held back, repeating kindergarten is the least socially destructive year to do it, but, of course, I still have guilt. I'm beating myself up for not anticipating that it was more likely than not, considering her lack of progress leading up to kindergarten, that she would not do well this year. I'm second guessing my decision not to keep her in pre-school another year, but I really really believed that Nora would rise to the occasion and meet the challenge exactly because she is so bright and competitive. But instead, kindergarten whipped her ass this year and because of my Pollyanna tendencies, she is the one who will have her tender feelers hurt. Poor little PITA chip.


Yes, Minister... said...

Hey, if you would like to e-mail me, I have some advice for you on Nora - if you want it. Also, did you get your camera? I have been going 24/7 and keep meaning to e-mail you on that :-(

Marny in Maryland said...

Marji --

I'm sorry that you and Nora are having to deal with this. There are no easy choices in education. Are some additional supports being put in place for her for next year? If there are underlying procesing/language/learning issues, just repetition might not do the trick (as you have learned with the hash marks).

Good luck to you and your little one!

Marny (from NC)

Amy said...

Psst from your friendly neighborhood school audiologist - hearing testing is always free at the school district audiology office. Always. And I probably know your district aud, too - so let me know if you ever need to find her!

I'm sorry that Nora is having such trouble at school. There's no way you could have known she wouldn't progress as quickly - like you said, she sounds like a very smart cookie! So don't beat yourself up. As Marny mentioned, it may be time to explore an IEP for Nora, have some testing done, etc. Let me know if I can help you find any resources; I know my way around school service programs pretty well.

All our love to you and bat-girl.

Anonymous said...

I have been thinking about Miss Nora ever since I read this post the first time. I do so wish there were a good solution. She is so fiercely intense about things - I do worry with you that it will be a problem, yet not "getting it" at this age is also a problem. It sure ain't lack of brain cells. I'm with Amy - I'd explore getting some help either from the school district or outside. There may be an underlying learning disability that is only a problem because of the change of language, culture, etc.

In any case, do know that I am thinking of all of you with a great deal of hope for a better outcome than envisioned.

Gamma Jean