Jenny's blog


I started a long, beautiful post about our trip to Disney World, which was lost when Firefox crashed as I was scrolling down to save it. I am just not meant to blog about vacations, I guess.

Then the website was totally down for several days due to some error on Jared’s part. The site has been live twice now, but the db queries (read: load) keep crashing the server. I hope it’s fixed now. I’m bummed about it, but I’ve asked him to put it up now during the holiday because I expect it to be pretty slow. Then *pow* problems at school (DS visited principal’s office twice in three days, once for failing to complete classwork and another for leaving his homework home) have kept me down and busy.

I only went to the gym once last week. Twice the week before. I went yesterday and will go today and lift. The weigh in last week was 137, and I didn’t weigh in yesterday because they moved the scale inside an office, and I was too intimidated to go in and do it. Plus it was evening, so the place was full of guys. Most of them were puffing up their feathers and one guy was using such bad form I was scared for him. He was twisting and using his back to move the weights all spastically. That poor thing is really going to hurt himself. I hate working out in front of men. Day time is better.

December has been a nightmare. I was so organized in November. Now it just seems like a dream. I am behind on virtually everything. I haven’t cleaned the master bath in a month. Seriously. The house is a mess, the gift wrapping isn’t done, the websites are so behind I’m dreading even checking it, the visiting teaching changes aren’t made b/c I lost my notes, and DS is having more trouble at school. DD continues to do well in class, but she aggravates and aggravates and aggravates everyone at home. I’ve got one who is bad at school and good at home, and another who is bad at home and good at school. I’m at my wits’ end.

Last week was a horrible week. By Tuesday I was counting down the days until Friday, so I could get the kids home from school. DS continues to underperform at school. When he came home Monday after being in the principal’s office a second time for not turning in his homework for the seven millionth time (he always completes it, but doesn’t bring it back), AND I looked in his backpack and found 3 weeks of classwork, nearly 30% of which was not completed, I finally flipped and spanked him. All the talking, grounding, encouragement, and punitive punishment has had no effect. He did so much better after the whooping that week that his teacher let him go into the upper level special math group. I have absolutely no confidence that he’ll be able to keep up his good behavior, however. He lacks any sense of responsibility for his work and even can’t understanding about how his lack of effort affects the other aspects of his schoolwork. His arrogance is hurting him : “I know it. I don’t need to do that”. I shouldn’t be surprised — DH seems to lack this ability, too: “I wrote the code. I don’t need to test it.” Makes me nuts.

I can understand his problem in some respects. I spent my entire elementary school experience being told to stop raising my hand; stop answering the questions. I got to where I’d wait and look around to see if anyone was going to answer, and when they didn’t, I’d raise my hand. Same thing — don’t be smart. So I did like DS and shut off. I lived for being pulled out to go to Enrichment, just like he lives for Focus. I honestly thought I was surrounded by idiots. “We covered this stuff last year. Can’t they remember?” or halfway through the instructions I’d understand it and its application, and have my work completed before the teacher even finished instructing the rest of the class. I read most of the time. I was arrogant and my attitude really hurt me, though I didn’t see it until later. (I will say I always did my assignments tho. My arrogance didn’t extend to open defiance.) That’s why I’m pushing him so hard to fix these problems; I’ve been there.

I read a thing that suggested that you accelerated gifted kids. Otherwise they are just marking time. I spent so much of my school life wasting time — I remember that heavy, oppressive dread like it was yesterday. I begged my parents to put me in the Mississippi School for Math and Science. I begged to graduate early. I took night courses at the local community college, because we didn’t even have Trig at my High School. It was like being in tar all the time. I am seriously considering having DS skip 6th grade. DS definitely does better with a A,B,C,D type grading system. The pressure seems to help him understand the importance of a test.

I DESPISE this 1,2,3,4 grading method. He will bring home work that has 5 problems wrong and get a 3. Then he’ll bring home a test with no questions wrong, and get a 3. There’s no way of tracking progress. Plus, I believe the entire grading process is completely arbitrary. There’s no percentage cut off between what is a 2 and 3 or 3 and 4. Additionally, at the beginning of the year, you’d expect kids to be getting 4s and probably a few 3s because they’ve passed, showing they’ve mastered the previous year’s information. For example, I can demonstrate that DS has mastered his 3rd grade work with his SOLs tests. He got in the 99.9th percentile on his SOLs, missing only 2 questions. The test interpretation actually says the words “consistently demonstrated exceptional mastery” Instead, DS starts out the year with 2s and 3s, even though they’re reviewing information from last year. I would expect to see 3s and 4s at the beginning of the year, followed by a drop during the second or third semesters as they begin to cover new material with an ascent towards 3s and 4s at the end of the year. This hasn’t happened any of the three years he’s been at school here. Plus, most of the tests don’t include testing that can allow a student to show that he can “add to” the material. How is a gifted child to be identified using this system, when the best he can achieve is a 3 on nearly all graded work?

Thank God for the church, though. From a purely selfish, social aspect, where would I get to know people who understand the principal’s personality, have had kids in DS’s teacher’s class, are also struggling with the lack of gifted support in the county, whose gifted children are also refusing to do classwork (Thanks, Heather. You probably kept me from killing a kid this week.), who also have boys that didn’t turn in homework and got amazingly responsible with age, and former teachers who can speak the jargon and read the county’s gifted plan to tell me if DS has any rights to demand a special education plan. Seriously, I talked to women that week that had all of those experiences. I don’t work, and pretty much, my social outlets are DAR and the gym. I would seriously be going insane without people to talk to now.

Lynlee told me that it sounded to her like DS needed some self-esteem building. She suggested tae-kwan-do or something like that to help him build that self-esteem and to apply those lessons of self-control at school. It made sense. Everyone DS looks up to is leaning on him: teachers, scout leaders (yes, even them), parents, principal….. I’ve had DS in team sports before, but he didn’t really seem to get into it. DD has been taking gymnastics, and DS has expressed an interest. The boys’ class is full that is offered at the same time as her class, so he hasn’t been going. Even though it was an incredible hassle (we ended up missing scouts, the free sitting at the church for Christmas shopping, Jared didn’t come home from Baltimore, and I missed out on dinner plans with Emily), I let him stay for the later class last Wednesday to try it out. Honestly, it couldn’t have been more successful.

There were only two kids in the class, so DS got lots of attention from the coach. Mr. Sean was very good at identifying strengths, and at the very last second, DS successfully bounced off a springboard and did a straight-armed flip onto a big soft thing. If only I could have taken a picture of DS’s face! I was totally sold. That face is worth any price. We’re driving to get some food at Hardee’s afterwards, and DS pipes up: “Mr. Sean says you have to identify your problems in order to solve them. I think I can apply that at school.” So help me, I almost fell out. If Lynlee had called DS on the phone and told him what to say, it couldn’t have been more perfect.

I hope this can help. I just keep praying to know what to do. This rinky dink gifted program is just not going to meet the needs of my kids. I hate being an activist. I prefer to do all my whining on my blog. :)

Posted by Jenny Smith

I'm Jenny Smith. I blog about life on the 300+ acres of rolling farmland in Northern Virginia where I live. I like tomatoes, all things Star Trek, watercolor, and reading. I spend most days in the garden fighting deer and groundhogs while trying to find my life's meaning. I'm trying to be like Jesus -- emphasis on the trying.