Friday, June 1, 2012

Tempest In A Teapot

Apparently the perfect child DOES exist. She doesn't live in my house, rest assured. She is a classmate of Sara's and never does anything wrong. Never says the wrong thing. Never makes a mistake. She is always right and perfect. And she feels the need and right to lecture Sara at every turn. When they were fighting over playing with a mutual friend, Sara suggested they both walk away and play with other people because they were making their friend uncomfortable, she grabbed Sara's wrist and screamed in her face. Sara got frightened and ran away. Smart kid. When she decided that Sara was annoying her on the bus by humming she announced to all around Sara was "annoying and she will punish her". Sara quietly informed her that fellow classmates are not in charge and cannot punish one another. She has mocked Sara all year long for everything and anything. Nothing Sara does is right or acceptable in her eyes. The kids are mounting Shakespeare's "Tempest"
at school. Costumes are the student's choice and interpretation. The teacher wisely informed all that we do not need to run out and rent a Broadway gown (Sorry, dad). Sara picked out her favorite dress and borrowed a pair of fairy wings. She was yelled at by her classmate/ruler and told her costume was all wrong. Upset and confused, she came to me asking for a new costume. I showed her the teacher's email about costumes and reminded her again that the teacher is the one and only boss in the classroom. Reassured that she is not letting the class or teacher down, she strapped on her wings and pranced off to school. Today she came home with another story of her gross incompetence in the eyes of her classmate. They were told to share a cloak. Sara was excited because she got to try on a new costume. Not living in Shakespearean times, she has never worn a "cloak" before. She made the fatal mistake of putting in on wrong - backwards, inside out, upside down, I don't know. This girl jumped on this error like I would on a piece of chocolate cake. She screeched like a howler monkey repeatedly about Sara's fashion error. Sara apologized and remedied the situation. But, this girl followed Sara around "lecturing" her. I again reminded Sara that the teacher is in charge and no one else can lecture her. Then Sara asked me the question she has asked all year long. "Why doesn't she like me, no matter what I do or say? Why does she hate me so much?" There is no answer. I explained (again) that some people simply do not get along. That is the way of the world. Sara is not perfect. She has her fair share of problems relating to and getting along with the kids in her class. But she cannot do anything right in this kid's eyes. For months Sara tried to be friends with her. She tried changing to suit this girl. No success. Finally with only 2 days left in 3rd grade, Sara has recognized that there is no solution. This girl simply does not like Sara. That is her choice. But, I would love to know how this kid got it in her head that she is perfect, better than everyone else and has the right to behave this way to her classmates? Thankfully we have made the decision to switch schools next year. After 3 years of trying to get our child to fit in and watching her be bullied, excluded and picked on, we have come to the realization that she simply does not fit in at that school. She has had 3 fabulous and amazing teachers who have gone out of their way over and over to help Sara overcome her social challenges. Being the youngest child in the class is just too hard on her. We are hoping that a new environment with a mixed age class will be a better fit. I know that she won't like everyone and not everyone will like her but I just hope and pray that she is treated with respect at her new school. I also hope that she learns from this experience and treats others with respect as well. We have worked very hard with Sara to get her to understand her role in her relationships with classmates. She has gotten better about being stubborn and wanting only her way. She has matured this year. We have never pretended that she is perfect or blameless. As people who have lived with her for 8.3 years, we know her faults, strengths and weaknesses. We know we are not raising a perfect child. She will make mistakes. She will learn from them. We believe in natural consequences. She needs to be aware of and accept accountability for her misdeeds. We assume that she is at least 50% to blame when there is a conflict with a friend or classmate. She has learned to accept responsibility for her words and actions. She has been punished when she was unkind to someone. She has written apology letters for negative words and actions. Maybe she will learn from these experiences. Maybe some good will come from it. Maybe she will remember how she felt and never treat others that way. Maybe she will learn compassion, respect, patience and tolerance. I know she is not (gasp) perfect. But she is perfectly Sara.

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