Friday, May 21, 2010

In Defense of the Teacher and Richelle

I'm not sure if I got spanked or not...  LOL!  I think I should set some things straight...  there may have been a misunderstanding with a reader.  I value her opinions and her insights, and am fascinated by the stories she tells... but I think perhaps I need to go into more detail about the teacher in question and what happened with Richelle's buying with money not her own something for a classmate. 

In defense of the teacher, she did not call Richelle any names or label her. What she did was talk to Richelle about how taking something that didn't belong to her without that person's permission is stealing.  That is a fact. The teacher has never, over the course of the year, seen Richelle buy stuff at school, and the fact that she did it and bought something that she didn't need (I just bought her a new journal recently) that would be fairly expensive (by a child's standard) made the teacher wonder what was going on...  and she wanted to make sure that there wasn't a problem. I am willing to bet she told Richelle she would be telling us what happened - this teacher is older and a bit more old-fashioned, and I like that; she won't hide anything from a parent.  Parents need to know what is going on so they can properly parent their children.  
I have to applaud the teacher, because I do not want in any way to have a child think they can do something like take money from us without asking permission and get away with it. We talked to Richelle about the fact that in the future, if she wanted something, she needed to ask us permission for it...  we usually say yes (such as when they have book orders - we pretty much let the kids pick what they want, but we do set limits on how much can be spent).  

I grew up in a close neighborhood, and everybody looked out for each other.  When any of us kids did something that the parents knew wasn't right, they got hold of the offending child's parents and told them what was going on.  It was up to the parents to discipline or punish their child.  Believe me, we grew up knowing that we would "get it" if we did something wrong (and got caught, which was more than likely, given that the neighbors and our parents were pretty sharp about what we were up to).  And if we hurt someone else in the process of  breaking a rule or what was considered generally accepted practices, we had to apologize and make it right.

I agree that Richelle had to have learned some survival strategies in the orphanage to have gotten attention and to have some sense of self...  I am probably more lenient in some ways because of that...  but the  point is, she needs to learn early what will or will not be acceptable behavior and actions in society (that starts out early as the family, and then extends to the school, the neighbors, the community, etc.).  And explaining to her and labeling the action as what it is (in this case, taking something without permission is stealing) she can understand what she did wrong.  We can't wait until some time later to teach her these things.  I cannot make excuses for her just because she came from an orphanage. 

She had a rotten start in life.  No child should be separated from their parents, IMO, unless the parents are abusive or unable to care for their child properly.  She will be fighting those learned habits and life skills from the orphanage most of her life... if we don't start teaching her the appropriate life skills that are accepted in the society she lives in now, it will be harder for her to change from what she learned from living in an orphanage.

Both my husband and I have compassion for the reason she did it...  to help her friend.  We both believe that the child in question is a friend of Richelle's and not just someone whose friendship Richelle is trying to buy.  Roy has observed the two of them together, and says they genuinely like each other and play well together.  We also have compassion for teaching her what will help her to live a good life in the future...  I don't want to ignore any of this and later in life get a call from the police telling me that she was caught shoplifting - just because her "friend" needed a skirt, or whatever.  The underlying message is still the same...  we don't take what isn't ours. 

She has had to deal with and learn a whole new way of life.  She came into the family still trying to use her old ways from the orphanage - it's all she knew.  She has learned a lot over the past 18 months, but the old ways are ingrained and have a way of sneaking back into her life.  As I've said, it will take many iterations of the message for it to finally embed itself as deeply into her brain as her former orphanage habits have.

All this reminds me of a story.

I remember that when I was 20, I was living with my cousins.  They had a 3 year old boy, whom I adored... he was such a sweet child.  One Thanksgiving, we were gathered at my grandmother's house and cooking the meal in the kitchen.  Andy (not his real name) was pushing people in the butt saying "Out of my way!" as we went through the kitchen. 

I stopped him and said, "Andy, if you want people to move for you, you need to say 'Excuse me, please'.  Can you say that for me?"  He did, and immediately his grandmother (my aunt) said, "He doesn't have to say that.  He can do what he wants."

I told her if he didn't learn how to have proper manners now, when he was young, not only would it be harder for him to learn them later, but he will most likely not appreciate other things in his life.  

One thing led to another and my aunt just went a little too far.   She began berating me, saying it was no wonder no one would marry me (I mean c'mon, I was 20 and not interested in getting married at the time... even though I'd had three marriage proposals from the time I had been 16).  I decided if she was going to be a bitch, I could dish it out as well (we DO come from the same gene pool).  I told her it was a wonder that her husband stayed married to her - that he probably had someone on the side to make life bearable. Little did I know I hit the nail on the head.

Well, I got what I deserved with that one...  she went ballistic and began to smack me about the face and shoulders with her fists - to which my brother Richard stepped in (the one time he was on my side...  imagine that) and grabbed her wrists telling her "You will not hit my sister!" (My hero...) All the time she is cursing him and me and... well, things broke down from there.  Everyone, and I mean everyone, took my side on this, and she was alone in her opinion.  However, that didn't help Andy any.

He grew up to be a young adult dependent on his grandmother. She was about to put a second mortgage on her house because he was in default on a truck he had bought (and couldn't afford in the first place) when she died.  He was left with nothing.  I don't know if he has grown up since, but I know he had not been able to keep a job since he had been working. Even after she died, he had trouble keeping jobs.  Maybe today he has learned to take care of himself...  but I have lost track of him.  But I do believe that if you bring your kids up right, there is less likely a chance of this happening.  It was almost inevitable that this kid was going to fail, because no one taught him the kind of life lessons that would help him understand how to be grateful, how to be independent, and how to show others that they matter.  It was just all about him and what he could get. And my aunt (and Andy's parents to a good extent) were responsible for how this turned out.

Teach your kids when young!       

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sneaking. Stealing. Lying.

Yesterday, my husband got an email from Richelle's teacher.  It said that Richelle had bought some items (four pencils and a journal) from the school store, and when asked where she got the money, she finally told the teacher that she took it from home without us knowing it... that it had been her father's money.  Her teacher had a discussion with Richelle about stealing.

I thought something was up that morning when she took her back pack upstairs and was holding a small purse of hers (that had been filled with coins - we knew she'd taken it from Roy's can of coins he has, but weren't worried about it at that time).  I didn't pay it any real attention, just kind of made a mental note of it.  I went about my business while urging them to get ready to go out to the bus.

Then the email.  When she got home, she started taking things out of her backpack, and then got a furtive look on her face, and held her backpack tight to her while she said she was going upstairs.  I asked that she give me her backpack, which she was reluctant to do.

I pulled out the purse full of coins.  I asked her if she bought anything today, and she said yes. When pressed for what, she showed me two pencils.  I told her that her teacher had emailed us and told us it was more than that.  She admitted that she bought two more pencils and a journal.  I asked to see it... and she said she gave it to one of her friends at school.

There were tears welling up in her eyes at this point.  I asked why she would give it to her friend, and Richelle explained that she only had one page left in her journal and she wanted to give her another one.  And she wanted to give her a couple of pencils.  This is her friend, after all.

My heart went out to her, but I had to go on.  I told her to come upstairs with me.  She began crying in earnest at this point.  

We went to the living room couch and I put her on my lap.  She was nothing but a puddle of tears - so Kenzie and I removed her shoes and I held her.  I told her it wasn't her job to buy things that the kids need for school, and she shouldn't have sneaked out money to do so.  If she needed something or wanted something, she should ask us, not take money that wasn't hers.  

She said she didn't want us to know about it.  I told her that's exactly how sneaking and lying are - doing something you don't want someone to know about.  From now on she was to talk to us about it.

She really is trying to be a good kid - but she gets some things wrong once in a while...  and her intentions (if her explanation was really what happened) were good, if not misguided a bit.  She always has had a good heart.

Roy is still punishing her... three days without any TV.  I told Roy that perhaps what we should be doing after this is having the kids do chores and paying them an allowance.  That way, they would feel they have some control over things they want.  And we could use it to teach them to save a little, put some aside for charity, and then they would have some for spending any way they want to.  It will be good to try and instill good money habits now while they are young, rather than them trying to figure it out when they get older.

To be continued.  

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dance Recital - the Video

Here's the video.  Richelle is selling it - really emphasizing the steps.  Kenzie is her usual demure self.  She didn't like the music at all...  can't blame her.  Yellow Submarine wasn't exactly a favorite Beatles song of mine either...  but the outfits rock...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Recital was Saturday

The kids' recital was Saturday - and they looked so beautiful.  I had to put makeup on them so their faces wouldn't look all washed out on stage...  I don't do a dramatic enough job to really make it work well onstage - but if the kids are going to continue to dance, then I'll have to learn.  The song they danced to was Yellow Submarine, which the kids really didn't like very well...  it just didn't grab them like the Charleston did for Kenzie last year.

I will have a video up later, probably tomorrow.  Somehow, a circuit at the house tripped and my home computer doesn't work right now.  I brought everything to Panera to download and edit the video on my laptop, but (STOOOPID STOOOPID STOOOPID!!!!!!) I forgot the 4 pin to 4 pin cable to connect the camcorder to the computer.  I'm kicking myself as I say this... GRRRRRRR!!!!!!  Otherwise, it would have been uploaded today.
But - I DO have pictures I took on that day before they danced.  And as a proud mama - I think they look gorgeous!  The little ladies are shining through.   I am so proud that they are doing the things I didn't get a chance to.  I don't want to live through them, but I do want them to do things that they are interested in.  They get a chance to discover things I never did  - I want them to know they have numerous opportunities available to them, and if they put for the effort, they can accomplish anything.  Dance is a great way to teach them that.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Whatever happpened to AuntSpode8899?

I hadn't heard from this person in awhile, and usually when I post a video on Youtube,  she would reply quickly.  I was hoping to get some insight into a couple of the vids... I always look forward to hearing from her.  She has given me a lot to think about.  But I checked her account on Youtube and it was closed.  I hope everything is okay.

Gotta tell you, I miss her.  I enjoyed reading what she had to say.