More on the First Day of Summer School

So... I was talking to Annabelle tonight while she was lying in bed and while she didn't cry or anything, it sounds like she didn't enjoy her first day as much as I thought she did. She said no one was her friend, and that when she tried to stand next to Zander (one of the little boys from her spring class), he just kept hitting her in the head. She said none of her old friends played with her, so she just played by herself. When I picked her up, the teacher had told me that Annabelle complained that everyone was too loud so she wanted to sit by herself. The teacher also mentioned on Annabelle's status card that she was "a big helper." While I know that Annabelle likes to help, I wonder if she wasn't helping the teacher more than usual because of feeling left out among her classmates. That makes me so sad for her. :(

My plan is to talk to the teacher in the morning and ask her to encourage a couple of the girls to play with her. Even though just about every girl in the class was in her class last year (as in a year ago, not this past fall and spring), she doesn't really remember any of them. Believe it or not, Annabelle is actually a little shy when she first meets someone so I guess I shouldn't be too surprised. It still makes me sad though. Also, there are 2 girls from her spring class who are in this class too, but they're only going on Thursday and Friday. One of them, Annabelle likes, but I have a feeling that little girl is going to be crying a bit because she doesn't do well in new environments without her mom (her mom told me that and it was confirmed by it taking months before she didn't cry in Annabelle's last class) and the other is not really a nice girl. I never really liked the "not nice" girl just because I had a bad feeling about her, but tonight Annabelle confirmed that she really is mean. She was telling me about a couple of things that she had done before and told me some disgusting things that she does too. I can totally see this girl being a bully as she gets older. When Annabelle told me one of the things that the girl does, I laughed in disgust, and Belle said "That's not funny Mommy! It's gross!" She also said "I really don't like her. Halle likes her, but only a little... not very much." I can just imagine Annabelle and Halle sitting on the playground making birthday cakes out of sand and discussing this other girl. :)

Anyway, after school we went over to the Konicki's to play on their water slide. Both Annabelle and Corgan had a BLAST! Corgan took a little while to even give trying it a thought, but once he saw how much fun Annabelle was having, he wanted to try it too. See pictures of the fun on Nikki's website. When it was time to go, both kids threw a fit... but especially Annabelle.

So, we headed home for naptime before the kids having their first swimming lessons. I had high hopes for both kids' lessons. Annabelle was going to have her first teacher-led class (since ISR, which she doesn't even remember anymore), so I was a little nervous about her swimming with a stranger (not because I didn't trust the stranger, but because I didn't think she would trust the stranger). Corgan's class is parent led, so he did okay. He seemed a little weirded out with some of the stuff that I thought he would like (the group singing and bouncing around the pool), and also didn't care for the floating exercise, but he did really good with kicking, blowing bubbles, and jumping in the water. I was especially impressed with him trying to retrieve the ring from the bottom of the pool (where it was only about 2 feet deep). Annabelle on the other hand...

Before the class started, they asked the parents what type of swimming skills the kid has so that they can group them with other kids with similar skills. I was very honest... Annabelle can swim 3-4 arm lengths on her own, but can't come up to breathe. She's fine with being under the water and will open her eyes. She'll gladly jump in on her own. So, she was put in a class with other kids who will do the same thing. At first, Annabelle was all excited about having a teacher and finding out who her teacher was. When I saw the four choices for teachers, Annabelle ended up with the one who I would have chosen for her. So far, so good. When they called her name, I walked her over to her group. She then started to seem a bit nervous. She reluctantly followed her class to the other side of the pool, but got a little distracted and ended up separated from the group. I'm not sure if it was because of the water slide that she wanted to go on or if she was looking for me... or both. Anyway, another girl came and led Belle over to her class and Annabelle started to lose it. She didn't want to even sit on the side of the pool with the other kids. She wouldn't splash with her feet in the water. She ended up in the pool with a death grip around the neck of the teacher. She was crying. I was with Corgan about 8 feet from her, so she kept looking to me. She wasn't really yelling for "Mommy!", just acting like she was terrified of the water... which she is NOT! The lady who split the kids into the classes walked over and I heard her say to the teacher, "Well... this girl needs to go into the starfish class (the beginner class) and we have a girl in there who definitely isn't a starfish so we'll just switch them." Sigh. I don't care that my kid is in a beginner class, except that now I'm afraid that she isn't going to really learn anything this summer. When they took her over to the "starfish" class, she was just being grumpy and still didn't really want to do what they were doing. They gave her a baby toy, and she kinda just played with that. She joined in to do some splashing, and I did see her dunking under the water with the teacher so she at least seemed to get more comfortable with that class. As soon as the class was over, they said that the kids could go get on the little water slide if they wanted to. Annabelle ran right over to it and went on it over and over again, until I made her leave.

I was so frustrated and didn't know how to handle the situation. The main thing that I want Annabelle to get out of the class is to learn to take breaths while swimming, and I don't think she's going to get this in this class. And she's in that class all because she was just nervous. I'm a bit frustrated that they gave up on her so easily. I totally understand that there were 3 other kids in the class and they needed attention too (although none of them seemed to have any problem doing what the teacher asked of them), but there was also another teacher standing there with that class and she could have tried to calm Annabelle down a little. I really believe she just needed to warm up and was still a bit freaked out about all of the changes at school that day too. I never had a chance to talk to either of her teachers because I had Corgan there. His class started right at the same time that Belle's did, so I didn't get to talk to her first teacher, and his class didn't end until Annabelle was released from her final class. Keith is out of town this week, so I can't even bring him with me to have him take care of Corgan in his class while I keep an eye on Annabelle. I guess I'll just have to try to talk to Annabelle's new teacher on Wednesday to explain the situation and see if she can at least encourage Annabelle to learn to breathe on her own.

As far as Annabelle is concerned though, looking back, I think I was a bit tough on her. I was really frustrated so I told her that I was sad that she wouldn't do the things that he teacher asked her to do. At that time, I didn't realize that her first day of school had been so stressful because all I knew was that she thought her classmates were too loud. She started crying and wouldn't stop. I had told her before the class that I would take them for ice cream if she did good, but I didn't take her. At that point, I thought that would be my only bargaining chip for getting her to really participate during the next class. When we walked out to the car, she wouldn't stop whining and kept grunting "No!" at me. She loves to pick up "rockies" (the name she's had for rocks that she picks up every since she began picking up rocks), and had asked to pick one up in the parking lot on the way in. I told her she could get one when we left, but because she wouldn't stop crying, I told her she couldn't have one until she calmed down so that I could talk to her. I promise I TRIED to be patient with her, and tried to calm her down by talking quietly, but she just wouldn't stop. I saw there with her softly encouraging her to calm down for at least 10 minutes with the promise of getting to pick up a "rocky". She finally stopped (or at least slowed enough), so I got her out of the car and let her get one. She just stood there looking at the ground. I was so incredibly frustrated by that point, so I told her she had until the count of 3 to pick one up. She didn't. So I put her back in the car to screams of "I'll be good!" and cries of "I'm not crying anymore!" said through tears of crying! I had to take LOTS of deep breaths.

By the time that we got home, she had pretty much calmed down. She was still upset that she couldn't get ice cream, but had accepted that it wasn't going to happen. Honestly, the whole ride home I wanted to go back on my word and take her to get ice cream, but it had gone too far and I couldn't roll over at that point or I was afraid that I wouldn't be taken seriously in the future. I had already threatened to not let her go to Pump It Up with Halle the next day, which I didn't intend on following through with (when we got home, I made her clean up the playroom to earn that right back... and she gladly did it).

The rest of the night, Annabelle was actually unusually good. She ate every bite of her dinner, cleaned up everything she messed up, did lots of art and proudly showed it to me, helped me organize the play food in their kitchen, and even shared with her brother more than usual. I'm not sure if it was because of her fear of not getting to go to Pump It Up or her fear of disappointing me again... probably both. When she went to bed and we talked about her day, everything really started to make sense. I really believe everything is going to be okay though. I really stressed how proud of her I was for holding her breath and going under the water with her teacher. She told me that she's excited about swimming lessons on Wednesday and doing really good so that she can get ice cream, which made me feel much better about not giving in to ice cream earlier. She even cracked up at the idea of telling her teacher that she's a fishy and surprising her by swimming all by herself (she came up with that scenario all on her own). And at school, I think all it will take is talking to the teacher and having her encourage some of the other girls (who have all been in the same class so naturally they all play together) to include Annabelle in a couple of activities and she'll be fine there too. Just takes a little warming up. What a long day my little girl has had! :(


Angelle said...

I am so sad for your little girl. I was emotional just reading this. I totally understand your frustration. It was just a lack of communication. You didn't know enough about Belle's day to get the situation. But I have high hopes for next time. Keep on keeping on!

PS My WV word is "mating" HA!

ljkolumbus said...

AWE.. wish Grammy could have been there to help :) I know it will get better on both fronts.. she is shy - more so than one would think once they get to know her but like her Mommy she loves to show how good she can be/do at things and will be the best little fishy in the water before they know it! Hope all goes well with Summer School and that the girls get it worked out. Is Halle not in summer school? We miss you all and can't wait to see you the end of the month!!

Kelly Albert said...

Wow- that's a lot for a little girl to take in. You don't feel like she is doing too much do you? Just wondering- maybe its a little overwhelming is all? I'm not sure- I'm new to this mommy stuff too ;) I'm sure all will be fine once you get in the swing of things. Your doing great- just remember to keep taking deep breaths :)