Thursday, September 14, 2006

life is better

Today is better...thank goodness! I guess maybe now I feel like writing it all out. I don't write this to embarrass Gracie but since this blog is a journal of our lives, I guess this needs to be in it!

A brief synopsis: Gracie has a bad habit of waiting until the last minute to go to the bathroom. We get onto her alot for this. When I say "alot," I don't mean daily, weekly or even monthly but it still seems like alot for a child her age.

In Kindergarten she had at least 2 "accidents" at school It seems like maybe there was a 3rd but I can't think of it. They were both during the 1st semester and were handled appropriately with care & gentleness by her teachers & aides.

Well, this week she had an accident at school. *sigh* No one wants to be the parent of the child who wets their pants at school. We all know how kids can be and I had these visions of children taunting her mercilessly. It was Tuesday afternoon right before school got out. Apparently it was literally like 10-15 minutes before school got out. I was standing on the sidewalk next to my friend Mary Beth waiting for our kids. We saw Mrs. Stauffer walking down the sidewalk towards us. We both kind of thought it was strange because she doesn't usually bring the kids out; a different teacher does.

I couldn't fully see her so I asked MB, "She doesn't have one of our children by the hand does she?" She said no. Well, she was walking straight towards me and pointed at me and said, "I need to talk to you." You've got to understand. Gracie is not a perfect child, but she is certainly not one who causes the kind of trouble that makes the teacher come out for an "on the spot" conference. I said, "Am I in trouble?!?" She said no but asked for me to step over away from the group of parents.

She explained that apparently Gracie had needed to go to the bathroom during math time but knew that they weren't supposed to ask to go during "direct teaching" time. (As a former teacher, I understand the rule because the students could miss alot & potentially be disturbing if they're getting up during this time.) I guess she raised her hand with the little "signal" they have after the direct teaching was over. However, Mrs. Stauffer didn't see her because she was busy getting the take-home folders ready. Now, most other kids probably would have said the teacher's name to get her attention but not Gracie. By the time Mrs. Stauffer noticed she had her hand up, Gracie stood up to go and it was too late.

I really feel like Gracie didn't necessarily wait until the last minute this time but just had bad timing with when she needed to go. However, she probably could have gone at any number of times during the day and just didn't do it. I also feel like she probably could have been a bit more "aggressive" with letting the teacher know that she had her hand up. However, what's done is done. Mrs. Stauffer told them that if it's a real emergency, they can just go.

Mrs. Stauffer had given Gracie a pair of gym shorts to wear (size medium ADULT!) Gracie had rolled them over at the waist like we do with her soccer practice shorts so that they weren't quite so big. I asked Mrs. Stauffer if everyone laughed at her. She said no and she would have really "chewed them up" (I believe was the phrase) if they had. She said they talked about how no one is perfect, etc. Mrs. Stauffer was very kind about it all and I was very happy that she'd come out to tell me about it in person. If Gracie had walked out in those shorts and I didn't know what had happened, I would have been mad!

So, that was part 1 of the bad thing. I'm embarrassed. Gracie was embarrassed. We talked to her alot about how she shouldn't wait 'til the last minute. She should have made sure Mrs. Stauffer knew it was an emergency. She needs to go during the day so that she doesn't get to that emergency point, etc.

Here's part 2 of the bad thing. Well, that night we were continuing our discussion. I decided to try some "scare tactics" with her. I said, "Gracie, some kids will be mean and they will laugh." She said, "Mrs. Stauffer said X laughed." (X is not the kid's real's being used to protect his privacy!) Well, I was shocked b/c X is her friend and that just didn't seem logical that he would be the one to laugh. I questioned her about it and she kind of laughed and said, "Mrs. Stauffer said X laughed and she had to get him." She wasn't particularly upset about it but it bothered me.

X's mom has always told me to let her know if he ever does anything to Gracie b/c she would want to know so she could correct the situation. I've told her the same about Gracie. So, I emailed her and told her what Gracie said. She emailed back shortly and said, "X said he did not laugh. L did. I'm going to call her (the teacher.)" So she & I talked back & forth about it and how this story just didn't make much sense. She called Mrs. Stauffer but had to leave a message.

All during the evening, I wondered if Mrs. Stauffer would call her back and what she would say. Finally, X's mom called me back and said that Mrs. Stauffer had said X did not laugh. Another child had laughed and maybe he had smiled at that but he did not laugh at Gracie. Well, that was good. However, in the back of my mind I couldn't figure out why Gracie had said that Mrs. Stauffer had said that X had laughed. It just didn't make sense to me.

Chris was so nonchalant about it. He just figured there was an explanation. He felt no need to find out what the explanation was. I on the other hand was going crazy. I believed X. I believed Mrs. Stauffer. So it appeared that Gracie was lying. That didn't make sense either though. X is her friend so why would she try to get him in trouble? It's not like her to blatantly lie like that. It's not that she's never been dishonest, but this would have been a pretty outright lie and it just didn't line up with Gracie's character. She had said it so matter of factly that it just seemed like fact, but X & Mrs. Stauffer's stories weren't coinciding with Gracie's.

I went to bed but woke up with that icky feeling in my stomach of something not being quite right. I had a tummy ache too! I knew Chris wanted me to drop it, but I just couldn't. After he left for work, I started questioning Gracie about it. We went 'round & round with her saying she "thought" she'd heard Mrs. Stauffer say X's name, etc. I got onto her & told her that saying something as fact when she just "thought" it, was like telling a lie and she knows better, blah blah blah. I said something about how she had told us that as if Mrs. Stauffer had looked her in the face and said it. She said, "She did." I repeated it and asked had she looked her in the face and said, "X laughed and I had to get him." She said, "yes." I know everyone wants to think the best of their child but I truly felt like she was telling the truth. As much as she was gonna get it if she was lying, I was also going to stick up for her 'til the bitter end if she was telling the truth!

I was completely unprepared to go inside the school that morning but I did anyway. I threw some make up on and grabbed Katie, barefeet & all (Katie was barefoot~not me!) and we took off for school. I had planned to just go through carline, but I knew I had to find out the real story. We went into her classroom and I said, "I have a question." Mrs. Stauffer said, "okay." Then, I immediately burst into tears! I was so embarrassed! I was so not planning for that to happen! (I guess we know where Gracie gets her dramatic nature from, huh?!?!)

I said, "I just have to know what happened." Mrs. Stauffer was very motherly and hugged us both and listened intently. I said, "Okay. I know X's mom called you. We're friends. I know you said X didn't laugh and that's fine. Whether he did or not is not really the point right now." I took a deep breath and looked over at the bathroom (and her teenage son who is sitting in the rocking chair watching me make a fool of myself!!!) and said, "But she said that you came into the bathroom and said, 'X laughed and I had to get him.' I don't understand!"

She said that yes, she had said that to Gracie. Apparently, L had laughed (who happened to walk into the classroom at that moment! Mrs. Stauffer asked her to step out. She really is a sweet girl!) X sits near L and he had laughed at HER! Mrs. Stauffer had gotten on to X for laughing at L because she said no one needed to laugh at anyone for any reason. Then apparently she told Gracie that X had laughed and she'd gotten onto him but Gracie didn't realize that he hadn't laughed at her. She had gotten the statement out of context.

I sighed with relief and said, "So, you did say that to Gracie, but X hadn't laughed at HER, he had laughed at L!" She said, "yes." *sigh* I explained that I'd worried about this all night and I'd gotten onto Gracie for being dishonest but she was adamant about Mrs. Stauffer having said it and it all just didn't add up. Mrs. Stauffer apologized for not being clear and to please never worry about something all night but just to call her. She handed me a tissue, told Gracie she could get unpacked for the day and I had a little hug & kiss time with her before I left. I apologized for thinking that she was lying and said I really didn't think she would lie about it but it just hadn't made sense, etc. Then I left. My mouth was very dry from being nervous, I was still embarrassed at having cried but relieved that my baby hadn't been dishonest about the whole situation.

Seriously, I was so drained from this whole thing. I had just known in my heart that something wasn't right about the whole situation. I couldn't rest easy until I knew what had happened. I am so thankful that no one had been dishonest! As for L laughing at Gracie....well, kids will be kids. She really is a sweet girl. I'm sure it would be hard for any 6 year old not to laugh in a situation like this. I have not heard of one other child who laughed about it. Gracie has not complained about anyone teasing her. I went in to work with her class later that morning (which added to my embarrassment because I had to face Mrs. Stauffer a mere hour and a half later!) and not one child mentioned the incident to me.

Chris & I were very surprised that Gracie didn't seem to be more embarrassed about it. Chris said, "I don't know why she's not saying she wants to stay home from school tomorrow?!?!?" I guess she's still innocent enough about life not to worry about it. Thankfully, like I said, she hasn't complained about anyone teasing her at all! She really is just a good kid with a great attitude (most of the time) who can go with the flow and is just happy. (Don't get me wrong; she has her moments!)

Today I sent a note to Mrs. Stauffer apologizing for being so emotional and thanking her for helping us sort it all out. I stressed to her how much Chris & I want to support her throughout this school year; how we're Gracie's advocates and we'll make sure she gets what she needs, but we appreciate all she does as Gracie's teacher. Chris had been concerned that I'd been too defensive and made it seem like I was upset with her and I wanted to clear up that I wasn't upset with her at all. Here is how she replied:

There is absolutely no reason for you to feel that you need to
apologize for anything. You are Gracie's advocate and as such you need
to do what you feel is in her best interest. I did not feel like you
were questioning how I handled the situation. I appreciate that you
came to me and gave me the opportunity to clear any misunderstandings up
between Gracie and myself. I again want to thank you for coming in
yesterday and working with the children.
Have a great day.
*** Stauffer
I am so thankful that Mrs. Stauffer is the kind of teacher who is open to having parents come to her with concerns. I am so thankful that this incident was resolved in a good way. I am so thankful that my baby wasn't dishonest about the situation. I know she's going to have moments of dishonesty in her life and she will hopefully learn from those moments, but this wasn't one of those moments. I am hopeful that Gracie won't have anymore accidents. She just needs to be more mindful of going to the bathroom more often so she doesn't get to the emergency point.
So, I guess that synopsis wasn't so brief, huh?
Dear Lord,
Thank you for letting this situation be resolved. Thank you for letting Mrs. Stauffer be sensitive to how I was feeling. Please help Gracie to do better with not waiting too late to go to the bathroom. Thank you for not letting her be made fun of~at least not too much. Thank you for the good attitude that Gracie has about school and friends. Thank you that she enjoys school so much and is learning so much! Thank you for all of the blessings we have from all the different areas of our lives. Please help us to recognize & appreciate them. Please help us to look for opportunities to share You with others.
In Jesus' Name,


jettybetty said...

That's a tear jerker for me!

I am thankful for your attitude through it all--and your perseverance!

My last blog post is for you! ;-)

jettybetty said...

Looks like we were commenting on each other's blog at the same time!=-)

MDM said...

Oh, these babies have our hearts, huh? I would have been the same as you bursting into tears at the sight of the teacher. Bless Gracie's little heart and mommy's too. May you have many many dry days ahead!!

janjanmom said...

Praise God for the gift of intuition you have. I applaud you for seeing it all through until you KNEW!! You are a great mom and I feel certain your girls will follow in your footsteps and develop Godly character (they already are!).

On another note, I don't think kids are mean about stuff like that anymore. I think the compassion taught in schools goes a long way-there was no compassion in my day, just teasing.

Malia said...

I would have cried the same way you did when trying to talk to the teacher. It seems that I get all this emotion bottled up in me and even though I've tried to calm myself down and steady my nerves, the moment I open my mouth, the tears start. And usually once they've come out and I've let the emotion flow I can actually speak rationally and calmly about whatever the situation is.

Chris said...

It's okay, I love that you are like that. You are a Godly woman who is raising our children up in the Lord. You are always teaching them and I am amazed at how you can take any situation and turn it into a teachable moment about God's word. You are much better at it than me. The girls and I are blessed by God to have you be there for us in situations like this.

Love you so much.