My prayer for today is to understand 11 year old girls. You would think it wouldn't be too hard -- after all I was an 11 year old girl at one time.
Chaos is having a hard time at school. Her teacher this year is a young man without much understanding of 11 year old girls, either. I wonder if he is having a hard time with discipline, as well. Chaos comes home half the time in tears, half the time angry. She didn't want to go to school today -- and I have decided that the stomach aches and headaches are not faked, but real -- as a result of stress. She's a straight A student, perfect conduct grades, member of the Beta Club, etc. but not coping well with her peers. And the teacher made the comment to me "I just don't know what to do about the mean girls in this class." This seems to be a systemic problem.
She is quiet, sensitive and an introvert. She is not likely to speak up for herself. (never really been my problem...easy for me to feel compassionate, but not easy to understand.)
I have contacted the counselors at the school and gently suggested that the teacher and the class needs some lessons on compassion and manners. I know that once they become defensive, it is hard for the lines of communication to remain open.
I have volunteered in the classroom quite a bit and know that her teacher is not the most organized person I have ever met -- nor the most understanding.
Everything in me right now is crying out for me to quit school and stay at home and home-school. However, as an educator, I realize that what Chaos need to learn cannot be found at home, but in a group of her peers -- she needs social skills, especially coping skills.
What to do.
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Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Prayer for Today
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Oh, that's such a hard one. I've been there to a greater or lesser extent with all 3 of mine, but the good news is that it did settle down for each of them without their having to compromise who they are. 11 was pretty gruesome, though (my baby is 12 now, so that's one threshold crossed ;-) ) I'm sure home schooling isn't the answer..
Love and prayers to Chaos and her mum as you work your way through this one.
It's always a tough one on when to step in to protect your kids.
As usual, I recommend a book, though I know deep inside that books can't solve every problem. How To Give Your Child a Great Self-Image: Proven Techniques To Build Confidence From Infancy To Adolescence by Dr. Deborah Phillips is the book that I would very much recommend. This book is probably out of print, but I'm sure they'd have it at www.powellsbooks.com as used. I checked mine out from the library when I first read it. It has chapters on how to handle teasing, rejection without pain (almost), the gift of empathy, the body-image trip, the importance of being imperfect, etc. It teaches children how to do the emotional shrug to deal with criticism. I read this book because of my bad experiences in school, and it's the best one on this topic I've seen. I hope that it gets better.
I taught eleven-year-olds, and (in addition to a great many other things I never figured out) never figured out how to make them be kind to each other. They're old enough to know how to be nasty, but not mature enough to know NOT to be nasty.
The good news -- not that it will make you feel much better, I know -- is that just about everyone is miserable at age 11. The same girls who are picking on your daughter are probably going home crying because other people are picking on them. I'd sometimes sit with crying girls in the hallway and think how this is the absolute lowest point in just about everyone's emotional life, that even when the problems become much greater later on, we're better equipped to handle them. Eleven is definitely not the golden age of girlhood.
Rev. Mommy, Would you feel comfortable sending me your snail mail address? My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. I don't want you to feel I'm pushy so it's OK for you to say you're not comfortable; I just had so much trouble in school myself that I'd love to send you a copy of the book that I mentioned here. I guess I relate too much. I was also a straight-A introvert as I was coming up through school.
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