Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Princess Is In Trouble...

Yes this one...

I just got her semester grades!!

I'm choked beyond belief!

They suck!

Here's the deal...

From the time Megan has been in the 1st grade, school has been a nightmare...For ME!

I fought with her 1st grade teacher...I knew from Megan's homework that she was struggling with reading. I talked to her teacher. A first year teacher, who told me Megan just needed to focus more. Well, I am no expert, but when kids consistently write letters backwards and struggle with associating sounds with letters, it usually means dyslexia. It runs in my family. I told the teacher this. Nope, nothing doing...she wasn't going to have Megan tested or put into any sort of special classes. Because(drum roll please)...Megan was NOT a disciplinarian case. HUH?? So the kid has to cause holy hell in your classroom before you will get them some help?

Well, we moved to Arizona and I talked to her teacher in that school and she was immediately tested...ta da...I was right, she was mildly dyslexic. She was put into a Title I reading program. Before long, she was reading like a whiz and loving school. I was in HEAVEN.
For two years, we enjoyed success. Megan even made it to the Principle's List a couple of times and won Outstanding Student awards. It was bliss.

And then...it started all over again...forgotten assignments, homework not turned in and dropping grades. Thankfully, she had a very good teacher and he worked with us, ALOT. He recommended lots of things and talked to us about ADHD and ADD. He said Megan was too well mannered to ever be a discipline problem, but she would just "check out". HELL was revisited. I felt like I was in the 5th grade all over again, but worse. I had to get online, write down all of her assignments, make sure she had them, did them, turned them in...and still her grades dropped. Both of us were miserable.

We moved to another area in AZ and she started school there after Christmas break. She was excited to move, because we could finally have our horses with us on the property and she knew some of the kids at this school. Things went pretty good the rest of the year.

But the next year was beyond miserable. I talked to her teachers, I talked to her teachers AND the principle. I asked her to be tested to see if she qualified for a special ed Math class and she was just a couple of points above the test line, so they wouldn't put her in the class. Everyone just kept telling me I need to be more involved in making sure Megan got her homework done and turned in. Wellllll.....excuse me....there is only so much a parent can do. Every night, "Do you have any homework?". Almost always, the answer was "No", and every week I would get a report that she was missing homework.

Finally, I got fed up with the teacher passing the buck. She KNEW Megan had problems remembering to write the assignments down and she KNEW that Megan purposely forgot to bring her books home so she could do the assignments, but she refused to lift a finger or to have her classroom aid make sure that the kids were getting assistance. The reason I know, she knew the probles is because I talked to her and she told me she did not have time to check everyone. I asked her if all her kids had problems and she said no, just a couple. Well, in my opinion at that young of an age, the teacher should be checking the assignment books every day(Now, I know that the good teachers do-because most of the teacher I substituted for DO check the assignment books). I got with the teacher, Megan and the Principal. We tried to come up with a game plan...well, at least I did. Finally, I tried to explain to Megan that if she did not complete her assignments and pass her classes that she would FAIL the 6th grade. When I was a kid, that was like the worst stigma EVER! The teacher had the audacity to tell Megan that she did not have to worry, that would not be the case, they were NOT ALLOWED to fail kids anymore. I was so mad I about kicked at beee-oootch's ass right then and there. So much for consequences huh???

I took Megan to a Child Psychologist, recommended by a friend of mine, and had her tested. This lady was very nice. She talked to us together, she talked to me and then she worked with Megan. At the end of the day, I had the answers I was looking for. My daughter is, in fact, mildly ADHA/ADD, specifically, she has an Inattentive subtype that affects her organizational skills and ability to comprehend math functions. Which means...that she specifically needs assistance at school when it comes to organizing and maintaining her assignments book and probably needed to be put into a special ed math class to help her learn how to learn how to remember math functions. Memory is a problem for this kid. If she gets off-track, she finds it almost impossible to pick up where she left off.

One thing I really liked about this psychologist is that she recommended that we work on trying to minimize the effects of the ADHD/ADD through dietary changes before trying any drugs. Not that I would have let her prescibe any of those drugs for Megan, but it felt good to know there were other ways to help. We have always eaten pretty darn healthy, but what I found out is that I actually needed to add the right kinds of fats to our diet and that some of the "healthy" things we were eating weren't what Megan needed. Milk and White bread-two of Megan's favorites needed to be reduced. Breakfast cereals-reduced. I started cooking with cold-pressed olive oil, added fish a couple times a week, eggs or oatmeal for breakfast and some Vit. E and Codliver Oil supplements. The results were not dramatic, but they were noticeable. Now, the changes have just become a normal part of our cooking. We aren't much for candy or junk food. The occasional bag of chips or candybar isn't a problem. And coffee in the morning helps a lot.

With my paperwork in hand, I headed back to the school prepared to do battle. But the school year was almost over, so nothing got accomplished. That summer we moved back to South Dakota. Now, I am very lucky in my tiny little town...most of the teachers that are Megan's teachers were my teachers when I was in school. Yep...they ALLLLLL remembered me! Damn!! You would think after 20 years, they would forget...or at least time would dull their memory. NOPE! Not in my case-Sheez...It's been TWENTY YEARS! Let it go already.

Yes, I was a hell raiser in school. I was the student that made teachers mad. Not because I was ever a "problem" in school, but because I showed up, I slept through classes, I partied every night, I NEVER studied...and I still aced their classes. School has always been so incredibly easy for me. I could read an assignment and ace the test on it a week later. I was so good at debate, that I made a couple of the debate kids cry. Real...actual tears of frustration and rage. Several of the teachers told my mom that I was a shame that I didn't apply myself. To which I replied, "I don't apply myself and I still earn straight A's...hmmmm, how exactly do you apply yourself more than that?"

But then, here comes my little girl. The first thing I did was make sure that my old teachers understood that Megan was NOT me. Yes, she is intelligent and yes, she is capable of pulling good grades. But...she needs a leeeee-tttllle assistance in certain areas. They were all so good with Megan in 7th and 8th grade. She did pretty good. I thought that finally, we had gotten over the worst of the "issues".

And now I get her 1st semester report card from High School and I feel like we are back at square one. But this time...this time, things are going to be a little different for Miss Megan. I know that these grades are from a total lack of effort. This time, Miss Megan is going to start learning that, in life, you have to work for some things.

I know she is having difficulty with Algebra...heck, Algebra kicked my ass in HS...AND college. I needed a tutor in college. The instructor actually worked with me while I took my semester test. For one reason...he knew that I worked my butt off, every day in class. He knew that I knew how to do Algebra, but he also knew that I had a very difficult time remembering the processes without looking at a book. Such a nice guy. But, he wouldn't have done that for me if I hadn't been in class every day, turned in every assignment and showed obvious effort.

So back to Miss Megan...I started the ball rolling for her to get a math tutor. Not another kid, but one of the teacher's aids. Megan will be switching study hall classrooms. I am going to have her Algebra teacher get with this aid and clue her in on where Megan needs help and after that, it is all on Megan to put the effort in. Something she is not real "into", if you know what I mean?

And just to be extra mean, I have given Megan the opportunity to earn the right to attend and participate in extra-curricular activities. If she want to go to a game, she needs to bring me a current copy of her grades. If everything is a C or better and no missing assignments, she can go. If not...don't bother asking. If there is a D on her progress report coming up...she will have to drop Cheer Leading. If there is a D on her progress report when it's time to enter the HS rodeos...forget about me paying the entry fees. And that spring musical she wants to try out for? Yep, you guessed it. No D's allowed. It is the only way that I know to get her to put some effort into keeping those grades at an acceptable level. Extra-curricular activities are important to kids. I like the fact that Megan loves to be involved, but not at the cost of her GPA.

She has to face the fact that she is not and probably never will be a person capable of heaping too much on her plate. She will always have to be careful of what she takes on so she doesn't get distracted, overly tired and overwhelmed. Life doesn't get easier after high school, it just gets more complex. So I think that it is very important that she learn how to balance her life, considering there are certain limiting factors she will always have to deal with.

I worry about my girl sometimes. I was a wily, street smart kid. Her, not so much. She is trusting and gullible. She will always be the "patsy" for others if she is not careful. In some areas she is so strong and worldly beyond her years and others?? She is years behind other kids her age. So needless to say, our happy little momma/daughter relationship is definitely feeling the pangs of the teenage years at the moment.

I just want spring to get here, so we can get back to doing what we love to do together and that is our horses. I miss my cowgirl. I'm not sure who this little princess is who traipses through the house in cute little outfits, make-up and curled hair. I'm not even gonna go into the "new" boyfriend thing....grrrrrr.


jacksonsgrrl said...

Well done post. And I truly feel your pain. My son (and I thank GOD i am not putting daughter here as I remember the sheer pain my mom and I went through...) is going on 13 this Feb. and these issues are sounding all too familiar. I am in awe that you have so much insight and take inspiration from it. I only say thank GOD I am not putting daughter in place of son because I truly do believe that God knows what we can handle and knew I wouldn't be able to handle a girl. I am somewhat opposite in that I am dealing with the behavioral issues you spoke of, and have the child that needs to be in the GT classes. But it sounds to me that as a child you needed the GT classes in much the same way that I needed the special ed. math. (OH, and still do!) Does it all just come out in the wash? Let us pray for it to be so. After all, you sound sane and I do believe myself to be as well (mostly :)....all being equal our kids will be fine, RIGHT?
I enjoy your blog.

Leah Fry said...

I feel your pain -- it probably feels like YOU are going thru school all over again. At least that's what it felt like for me, when I was going thru it with my son. Like you and me, he could just get by, but while I at least did the minimum, he chose to check out, sleep thru class, not turn in assignments, etc. It was exhausting and frustrating, and he was in a small private school setting!! I finally talked to a counselor there and she helped me turn the responsibility for his work -- and ultimately his passing or failing -- where it needed to be: on him. He never really applied himself, but he did get thru and every time I'd get a note about him not turning in an assignment, I got to hand it back to him and tell him to deal with it. There were consequences similar to the ones you imposed on Megan.

When they get to a certain age, they know the game and we've taught them how to play it and the tricks to getting by. THEY have to choose to play it.

Laura said...

Oh no - too bad you guys are having trouble again. Sounds like Megan is lucky to have you though - without you fighting for her, she would have been pushed aside and forgotten about.

I know teaching is a hard job, but how could you overlook a good kid that is obviously having some troubles? Too bad...

I think that restricting activities is a great idea. We've had to do it a bit with hubby's two stepsons... It may seem mean, but sometimes you have to hit them where it counts for them to realize how important trying hard is...

Hope it all works out for you guys!

Anonymous said...

Oh. My. This was exactly like reading my daughter's story! She's 16 now and most likely will not graduate with her class. It has always been a struggle with her to get her organized and get her to remember to do homework.

We have had her tested multiple times by several different psychologists/psychiatrists and NONE of them could find any ADD or ADHD tendencies. None. They ALL concluded that she had decided she wasn't going to do any more than the minimum and that was it. She was simply not motivated to do anything, and she's STILL not motivated. It has been an absolute nightmare. No amount of threats or punishment have worked. All through grade school and middle school we were diligent about following up on her homework, riding her constantly to make sure it got done, double checking that she remembered to bring it back to school, etc. etc. I felt like I was in school all over again!

However, by the time she hit 16 we, and her teachers and her counselor, felt the responsibility needs to be HERS or she will never learn how to take responsibility for herself. So, she's failing 1/2 of her classes and barely passing the other 1/2, and it's on her. We've done what we can at this point and from now on whether she decides to step up and get it done is her choice. Tough love has never been so hard.

I sure hope Megan figures it out SOON!

Mrs. Mom said...

I'll be following this closely BECG, and keeping both you lovely girls in our prayers here.

I cant really emapthise, as my guys are GUYS for one and little yet, but damn girl....

Talk to ya soon. And sending HUGS to you both!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

It is heartbreaking when our kids don't live up to their potential. The extracurricular activities do cut into study time, but as you said, they are so important. They are what help our kids develop skills, be well rounded, and keep busy so that they don't get involved in drugs and other crimes.

My son was one of those who couldn't get organized, kept forgetting to turn in homework, and spaced going to tutoring after school. We suspected ADHD. We just spent time instilling the value of education into him. Too many kids feel like they are forced to go to school, when the reality is that public education is a priviledge and we should not take it for granted. We explained to our son that he was headed for a low-end job since his grades wouldn't qualify him for college. We urged him to take control of his future. Then this year everything turned around and he brought home straight A's. Go figure. Kids can change in an instant. It's almost like something has to click in their minds.

Andrea said...

I always hate punishing my kids, because it ends up punishing the entire family. We can't do this or that because my oldest is grounded. So, we go and do the things we want to, and he just sits there and is not aloud to participate. Is that mean?

And I had trouble with school. My dad promised me that if I ever EVER got straight A's he would buy me a horse. He told me that in 4th grade. I tried so hard to get straight A's and it never happened. Never. My 11th grade year for one sememster my GPA was .99. My mom had enough and sent me away to Super Camp. It was a camp geared towards school. Gaining confidence, sharing ways to study and do homework faster. Every kid who was there didn't want to be there, we all were angry, and when it was time to go home, we didn't want to go. My GPA then next semester was 3.74. IT helped me a lot.

But I think you are doing the right thing. My oldest boy sounds so much like Megan. I held him back last year, and it's helped, but he is falling into some of the same things, forgetting homework, not bringing things home......

I hope Megan can bring up her grades!!

Mikey said...

It'll get better. Once summer rolls around - I think. I laughed reading about you, you and I were cut from the same cloth. School was too damn easy for me. I never studied, I never paid attention, I slept thru classes. Eventually I had to go to continuation school cause I was in and out of juvenile hall so much.

Sounds like you've got your hands full there. I can't imagine how the boyfriend thing is, lmao. She's so pretty, they've got to be swarming now. Load your shotgun Mama. You gonna need it.

Unknown said...

You are truly a caring and loving mother - good job. Schools aren't always the easiest things to work with, which is sad because they should be - that being said someday she will realize exactly how much effort you put into her getting a good education.

Danielle Michelle said...

As a high school teacher I hear ya!!! And it's awesome you are so proactive in working with teachers and your daughter. You'd be amazed how many parents truly don't care. I have a student that sounds a LOT like your daughter. ADHA/dyslesic and bi-polar to top it off. We have set up a weekly planner ( I blog all my class info once a week too) but she brings me her planner - I write the homework in, missing assignments, etc...and she brings it home for mom or dad to initial. Everyday.

It works well! There are slips, but basically it makes the child know the parent and teacher are on on the same page concerning the school work. THe rest is up to them.

Good luck!

cdncowgirl said...

Its a good thing Megan has you in her corner, things would be a lot worse for her at school if you weren't there to pull, push, stand up and yell for her.

Really don't want to think about high school, went to classes about 60% of the time... usually was still on the honour roll.

Train Wreck said...

Oh I can so relate my friend. Alot of us can. Terri just posted about this a couple posts ago. So frustrating. I know she may struggle now, but you two will get throught this. She will soar when she gets out of school. She has your blood in her "Jeans". You are such a great parent for following up, and understanding. Hats off to you. Keep us posted.

Chelsi said...

Rrrr.. I left a long comment here but just came back to give you this link and realized that it is not here.

The jist of it was that you are doing a great job and I commend you for staying so involved. I struggle with memory issues as well and think that you are right on target for focusing on teaching her the life skills she needs to be able to accomplish tasks. I know how hard it can be when you just dont remember and the hurt it causes when you are trying to be good. I feel for her. At the same time I went through my princess stage and found it much easier to focus on social issues instead of the seemingly impossible taske of algebra! Keep on her, she'll thank you for it (later.)

Here is the link I thought you'd get a kick out of.


BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

OMG-you guys gotta go check out those "redneck" cakes...that is some funny stuff!! "Shotgun" wedding-ROFLMAO!!!!

Thank you guys for your support. It is so wearing dealing with this. I know it takes it's toll on Megan too. She really is a good kid. So many wonderful qualities. I try not to focus on the negative-because it's not like she can really help it(most of the time)...but darn, she is so capable and smart-I guess I just expect that to translate into good grades too.

I really find the number of people who are struggling with the same issues staggering. It seems the more regulations they pass to help these kids, the worse the problems...maybe the problems are really just surfacing??
I know some of the kids I went to school with had some problems passing, but certainly not on the scale the schools are seeing today. For the most part, we were just expected to buckle down and to the work. You passed or you didn't.

And I DO feel sorry for the teachers that have to deal with these difficult issues. The kids who have no problems feel slighted because the teachers are expected to give extra attention to the kids that need extra help. The kids who are disruptive take huge amounts of time away from the whole class and there is always someone who is going to fall through the cracks-usually the quiet kids who don't really make any waves and yet don't really get the material that is being taught to them. Teachers have more students, less help and tons more administrative duties than they used too. And who the heck ever thought being a teacher would put you in danger? I'm amazed at some of the verbal abuse and disrespect these teachers have to put up with anymore.

Vaquerogirl said...

ok- don't tell anyone- this is just between you and me- but Lil Mama was EXACTLY the same kind of kid. She didnt 'test' for a disability so they just held her back, her teachers hated her much of the time. I won't go into why or what we didn't do, but I will tell you what helped her.
We learned that she needs order in her life-neatness counts, it helped order her thoughts
She had to have many small snacks during the day(even now).
She had to look at a written work, hear it spoken to her and then had questions asked about each particular piece of the work. It took a long time, but it worked to help her remember her work and then test on it later.
She did the best when se was allowed to work at her own pace via a computer program, that also used text. We learned this when she was sent to the 'alternative' school to make up credits for failing grades.
She finally understood what it took to pass school and put her mind and soul into it.
She's 30 now, and put herself through a trade school- passing with great grades. She is a natural teacher too, maybe because school was such hell for her and for me too!
Maybe this helps, but I do feel your pain!

Pony Girl said...

What a struggle. It really is frustrating that only kids with behavior problems get the help. Often the other ones are just considered lazy. It really helps to have great teachers along the way.
But what is even more great is that Megan has a mom that cares so much and is thinking of how her daughter can learn skills now to have a successful future! You are doing a good job, hang in there.

Carroll Farm said...

Well, as an elementary school teacher - I PRAISE YOU HONEY. I WISH parents were HALF as involved as you. I would love to get a couple of parents to help out a little. Also, love that their is consequences for her actions, or lack their of. Most parents talk bad about the teachers in front of their kids so there is no respect. Keep working her, she'll get it. :)

Yep, I was cut from the same cloth as you and Mikey, just the edge of it.

kdwhorses said...

I too agree good job on caring and doing something about it. praying you get it worked out.

Rising Rainbow said...

Ohhhhhhh, do I remember this. Talk about frustrating.

It sounds like you're really on top of things though. What a good advocate you are for your kid. Megan is lucky to have you as a mom.

Here's hoping it all works out and Megan decides to "get into it."

Melanie said...

Wow!!! Thanks for sharing all of this with us. As a person who has struggled with ADD and had difficulty with mathematical concepts all throughout my school years, and as a mother with a child who struggles (Katie), I can totally relate!!

My daughter really frustrates me, because she is super smart, she just doesn't apply herself...and she doesn't focus/concentrate on things at school, home, the barn.... I am sure that it doesn't help that her brother is the "perfect" student/kid at school either.

It sounds like the psychologist you went to was right on, but have you ever done behavior modification with her? That is what has helped me immensely, and what I try to use with Katie.

Hang in there, BEC!!!! It will get better, and I am sure that Megan will turn out just fine. It is frustrating when the teachers/school won't listen to you though, isn't it???

Good luck, keep us posted, and give Megan a kick in the butt for me....lol!!!!

PaintedPromise said...

wow. kudos to you for being such a good parent! i've been so lucky with all 3 of my girls, school came naturally to the oldest and the other two just "knew" that is she could do it, they could do it, and they did... but i get worried about my youngest, she is i think the smartest of them all BUT she is also what we call a "sheep" and easily distracted by friends into making bad decisions :( so in a different way i feel your pain... just 30 short (or long depending on how you look at it lol) days until she turns 18 and has to take full responsibility for any screw-ups... i am watching her closely!! hhmmm, this is not to say that i won't be there to support her even after she turns 18, just that she is the one that worries me as far as doing something dumb that PARENTS end up "paying" for...

gotta love kids huh???

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

Melanie-What is behaviour modification? Does it help with teaching them organizational skills?

I hear behaviour modification and I think of unruly kids-LOL. In that case I do practice it.;)

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

PP-I hear ya on the "sheep" thing. That is something I worry about with Megan too. That is how she got into trouble last Halloween with the "party" while I was gone. It wasn't her idea and she knew it was wrong, but she let others take control and then didn't make the best decisions about how to get rid of the kids who were drinking. Luckily, that all turned out okay and I think she learned a valuable lesson.