Warning! This is a long post. Apparently I had a lot to say on the subject. (Who am I kidding?. I have a lot to say about most any subject)
Ally had a hard time adjusting to Kindergarten. Wow - inderstatement. Um, yeah. It didn't go well. She has a hard time keeping her mouth shut when she needs to. Her brain is working so fast that she can't stop herself when she feels like she's discovered something and just has to share it. We worked with her before school started and I saw it coming, but just wasn't able to get through to her. She'd make a connection between something you were saying and something she already knew and HAVE to tell you just how that connection worked. It doesn't translate well to a school setting. Like, if the I would tell Anya that sentences start with capital letters, and the rest of the sentence needs lower case, Ally would pipe up to make sure everyone knew that names could start with upper case too. And places. She doesn't get the fact that people don't always tell everything they know because it may not be a good time to get into all the details. She is usually absolutely right, but now is not the time. And stop interrupting anyway. So, yeah Kindergarten. Not so smooth.
And then on top of that, we had to deal with her emotional fragile-ness. She is way too sensitive. it's hard to play games with her because she takes everything so personally. If she wants to be red, but someone else got there first, she can't let it go and pick something else. It hurts her feelings and she cries. She thinks everything through and has a perfectly logical (to her) reason for everything she does, so if someone doesn't believe her actions are appropriate, she feels the need to defend herself. And that gets her in even more trouble.
There's a green. yellow, red-light system they use for charting behavior. They throw in parking lot if the kid has screwed up, but it wasn't to grievous. Yellow is with a deliberate rule-breaking, or continued behavior after a warning. Red often goes to the principal. Ally saw the principal at least twice first semester. Once for yelling at the librarian about how she had a book she wanted and someone else took it before she could get there and she didn't want a different one.
It's been really hard to deal with, because I feel like I should have done a better job at preparing her. Which is ridiculous, because I tried. But you know how that parenting guilt goes. And she is so advanced as far as critical thinking and abstract connections and such goes. She can do 2 digit addition and subtraction and even some multiplication. She watches the Discovery channel and absolutely loves science. But life isn't always about what you like. Sometimes it's the drudgery of practicing writing the letter b over and over again. She's a lot like Rob in that she is eager to learn new things, but completely lacking motivation to perfect them. She can write her letters, who cares if they're perfect? She wants to move on to something exciting. And while I completely understand, if she can't turn that around, life is going to much more tough than it needs to be for her.
So instead of the wonderful year of learning that she had been looking forward to, she got a year of behavior police and she doesn't like school. I ask her how her day went and she tells me what color she ended up on. The focus is entirely in the wrong place. And of course, since that was where the focus is at school, we had to reinforce it at home, or the yellow and red lights would continue to have no impact on her. So we set up a reward system. Green light let her get a treat and choose hot or cold lunch. Parking lot was still a choice, but no treat. Yellow was to her bed until supper. Red was in bed the entire night except supper.
And then I had a flash of genius got desperate. I told her she could have a sleepover if she could stay the entire week on green. And a couple weeks months later, she did it! And then again. And now she's on her 16th straight green day. So she had a sleepover with an old day care friend. And last weekend, she had a friend come over, but she got too scared and had to go home. Ally was crushed in the morning, but there wasn't a chance in hell that I could wake her up. I wasn't even going to try, but Rob insisted, and after 5 minutes of talking to her with the lights on, I gave up. When she sleeps, she sleeps hard.
Honestly, though I don't think it had anything to do with the sleepover incentive. They just recently finished up with a couple rounds of the alphabet at school. Now they're still writing, but they have a heavier focus on math. She's coming home with math problems, and talking about helping others with their math. I think she's finally engaged. And it sucks that it's taken this long. We've also been working with her a lot and the poor kid is finally learning that not everyone thinks she's wonderful and how to deal with it. She's grown up a lot these past months, and as much as I see that it was necesary, and as hard as I've worked for it, and as proud of I am for her hard work and accomplishments, it makes me sad too.
I wish she could just keep a little of that innocence and belief that the world is a good place a little longer before having to grow up and face the truth. I miss my baby.