Yesterday was even more difficult than I had expected.
I got to work early, but it still wasn’t early enough to get everything done before the big meeting. The meeting was actually quite productive; Mom showed up, with Little One in tow, and Mom was very helpful. (Little one came over and collapsed on my lap, not long after I had mentioned that I didn’t think she had any special relationship with me, as she was in class so little of the time. It was amusing and sweet, but also concerning. She hugs total strangers regularly, which makes me wonder if she is insecure and/or insecurely attached.)
All of the problems were laid out on the line, and the Princess was wonderfully blunt. We ended up going with what the Princess said — we need to come up with a plan and do everything we can to help her be successful, and if that doesn’t work, we will talk about another setting.
We learned a lot from Mom, mainly that much of the behavior we’ve seen is not because she is overwhelmed and can’t help herself, but that it is deliberate and she is testing us.
We decided to start with a sticker chart for being in the right place at the right time (Mom said Little One loves stickers), and I put that into place right away that morning. “You’re in line for breakfast! You get a sticker on your page…..You’re sitting down for morning meeting! You get a sticker on your page.” The sticker page and my setting firmer boundaries made an amazing difference. She was calmer, behaved more appropriately, and was probably only NOT with us for about 10% of the time, which is a huge difference from the previous two days.
She was still very difficult, and exhausting. I gave so much of my attention to her, and used so much effort to keep her on track, that the rest of the class started to fall apart. They were really jealous of Little One’s stickers, and some of them pouted when I said that they would have to wait for another day. They were hungry for my attention, and I had several children trying to talk to me or hug me at once for most of the morning. Their neediness was exhausting, as was the way they stopped doing things they had just learned to do (“Get back in line, please! No, come over here. No, it’s not your turn yet,” and so on). I snapped at them a few times, and felt terrible about it. I wished I had a clone.
To make things more difficult, my wonderful Americorps volunteer was at a training meeting, and my assistant and I were scrambling all morning. Plus it was the day for Friday folders, but I hadn’t finished the newsletter yet. I didn’t even get to look at my lesson plan before the day started, so after morning meeting I took the class outside and left them with the assistant teacher while I ran in and tried to find help. I saw the school psychologist and asked, “Do you have ten minutes to spare?” and he answered, gallantly, “For you, I do.” (Mental note: it pays to be nice and to be appreciative of EVERYONE.) He went out to help with recess while I quickly got the classroom ready for the next activity.
I never did get my margarita, but I did finish my day with a lovely glass of wine.