Category Archives: School daze

Fool me once

Maks is getting an award!!

He is finally getting an award from the school.

YAY!!

It is not the Principles award or a character award. It is a gym award.

He is getting an award for outstanding sportsmanship and fair play.

It is not quite the award that I had always imagined him getting but it was an award and he was super excited to be getting it.

He told me about it on Tuesday. Now the thing is, usually the teacher(s) will send home a note saying that the student will be receiving an award and they will invite the parents to come in and watch the festivities. But I never received anything. At that point I was not sure if Maks had misheard the teacher and was not really going to get an award. He had already brought home his certificate on Tuesday so I had a feeling that he would not be getting recognized during the actual ceremony itself, which really upset me. If Maks has really convinced himself that he was getting an award and I didn’t want him getting disappointed by not actually getting recognized during the assembly.

So I emailed both of his teachers this morning to make sure that Maks was indeed going to get an award for gym today. And both of his teachers emailed me back and said that yes, Maks was going to get an award today. They also told me that he would not be called up individually to get his award; instead he would be recognized as part of a group of children at the end of the ceremony.

After they confirmed that yes, Maks would be getting an award, I called Millhouse and asked him to cut his sleeping short so that he could go into the school and cheer Maks on as he was recognized for his accomplishment. I thought that it would be a nice surprise for Maks to see his dad there. He had told us about the award but we never told him that one of us would be there to see it. I could not leave the office to get to the school in time. Millhouse would be sleeping at that time but if we timed it right; he could get up, go to the assembly, cheer Maks on, and then come back home to sleep.

Now it should be noted that Millhouse sleeps from 10am to about 3pm. This gives him around five hours of sleep a day. Some days, he falls asleep sooner and some days he falls asleep later and sleeps in to compensate for his lost sleeping time. Asking Millhouse to cut short his sleeping time is a pretty big deal because he gets so little sleep to start with.

Side note over, back to my story.

Millhouse cut his sleeping short today and got up at 1pm so he could get to the school in time to see Maks’ award assembly. He sat through the hour awards assembly and waited, and waited, and wait and eventually the ceremony ended and everyone left. And Maks got no recognition. There was no group recognition for the kids that had all won gym awards. There was nothing.

Millhouse was livid because he had lost sleep to watch other people’s children get awards. He was so mad that he couldn’t end up falling back asleep and ended up running errands. If he had known ahead of time that the gym awards would be cut from the program because of poor timing, he would have stayed at home and slept some more. Maks did see him there and he knew that his dad had come to cheer him on and I am glad for that. He knows that his dad was there to see him get his award and that was a bittersweet surprise.

Maks was deflated. He sat through the entire thing thinking that he would finally be recognized for being outstanding at something and he got nothing. I feel so bad for the kid. He tries so very hard at so many things and he knows he is getting better. And even when he is supposed to be treated a little bit special for trying hard, he gets nothing.

It would have been really nice if he just got the damn recognition.

There’s something in your ear

So I got a call from the school today.

I am not sure about other moms, but when I see the school’s phone number pop up on my call display, the first thing that I think is “I wonder who is around to pick up the sick child”. And that is not me jumping to conclusions, the secretary knows me on a first name basis and she only ever calls because one of my children have gone to the office because something is hurting and they want to come home early,

Now in Mat’s defense; he has only ever done this twice and both times have been for a legitimate reason. One time he had a fever and was falling asleep on his feet and the other time it was because he had a sty and it was bothering him.

The office usually calls about Maks.

The office staff knows Maks on sight now and he is only in grade two. When he gets stressed out about something it manifests itself in stomach aches and there are times when he cannot function because he has stressed himself out so badly that he is in physical pain. I have gotten used to these calls and so has the office staff. After many times of this happening, I don’t go rushing to the school anymore. Instead, I tell the staff that Maks should return to call and if the “stomach ache” is still there in an hour or so, then call me back. After an hour, it usually goes away.

This call was different.

Maks had an earache and it was really bothering him. It was so bad that he asked the teacher to look into his ear and see if it looked off. So his teacher looked in his ear and there was something shiny lodged in there.

So she sent Maks down to the office.

Maks walked in and the secretary assumed that he wanted her to call me because his stomach was bothering him but he told her that he was not there because of his stomach, he was there because of his ear. This was something new for Maks so the secretary used a magnifying glass to look into Maks’ ear and saw that there was something in his ear. She repositioned him in the office, focused a light into his ear and saw that there was a tiny blue bead lodged in his ear.

This was new.

So she got a pair of slim tweezers and being really careful not to touch the sides or the back of his ear, she pulled the bead out of Maks’ ear. She said that it was a really small bead, a little bit bigger than a piece of glitter.

Once she got it out, she showed Maks the bead and asked him how it got there and he had no idea how it got into his ear. She told me that he was just as surprised as she was. She figures that he will remember after he has had some time to think about it.

So by the time he gets home, he should have a pretty good story for me.

One and not the other

Last year, Maks decided that he was going to win the principal’s award. His year started off really badly. The transition from day-care to public school was difficult. And it took Maks almost the entire school year to finally get the hang of things. He was failing pretty miserably at both the French and English curriculum and he hated school.

But then it all clicked.

Around February he decided that he had it in him to do this school thing and he would be able to do it really well, if he wanted to. So he put his head down and really started working. His reading improved and he went up seven levels. His French improved greatly and everything else fell into place. Then one of his teachers told him that because of all his hard work he may end of winning the principal’s award and that motivated him even more.

His effort toward the end of the year was incredible. He tried so hard to do everything that he did really well. By the end of the year he was a solid B student, which is pretty awesome considering he was failing at the beginning.

But he didn’t end up winning the principal’s award.

To say that he was disappointed is an understatement but he took it all in stride. He knew that he had an uphill battle from the start and he was just really glad that he had come out of grade one as well as he had.

After all the work and disappointment of last year, I vowed that this year I would down play all the awards. If he won one, it would be great but I would not be emphasizing the awards assemblies this year.

Now fast forward to this Monday. It never occurred to me that the kindergarten classes would be eligible for the awards and it never occurred to me that Mat would end up winning one in kindergarten.

But he did.

And he was super-duper excited about it, as he should be. He earned it and I am super proud that he won it.

But Maks is also super sad because his little brother has ended up winning an award before he has. And even though it is not the principal’s award, the disappointment from last year has come back in full swing. He is discouraged because he does not think that he is good enough to win awards and that is really bringing him down.

I feel for the kid and I have let him know that there are many awards to be won, he just needs to keep on trying his best and one day he will be recognized for all of his hard work. I know that he is hearing me but I am not sure how much he believes me because his brother is winning awards now.

I don’t like competition in general. The idea of one person winning and all others losing bothers me. I don’t want my boys competing against one another. I don’t want them competing against anyone for that matter. The only people I want them to be better than is the person that they were yesterday. I want them to keep being better at being themselves.

I am thinking that at the end of this school year, I present each boy with an award for being an outstanding student this year. I am hoping that by showing them that they are both phenomenal at being themselves that it will encourage them both to keep working hard and take away some of the pressure that these blasted awards assemblies is putting on them.

Award Winning

The boys school have a monthly award ceremony. According to the school handbook; these awards assemblies are to encourage the kids to follow the seven golden rules* that the school lives by and the kids that live the values get recognized with the an award. To make it even more special, the parents of the kids being recognized are invited to attend the awards and take pictures with them. They try to recognize a couple of kids from each grade each month and change up who wins so that it is not always the same people. And at the end of the year, there is the principals award. That one is the most coveted because it is for the student that has improved the most during the school year and you get a pencil along with your certificate. That pencil is a huge deal.

In general, I don’t put a lot of emphasis on these awards. I tend to just glaze over them when I see the ceremonies on the calendars. I know that the school thinks that they are important but I don’t want to discourage either boy because they are not one of the ones to win an award. Perhaps it is negative thinking on my part, but don’t get me wrong; I have very good kids. They are both intelligent, sweet, caring, and solid B students but they do not win the awards. I don’t want the boys to feel bad if they don’t win because in the grand scheme of the world, not getting a certificate is not a big deal as long as they are trying their best; and that is all that matters.

But my entire line of thinking was thrown out the window on Monday when Mat won an award. I got an email from his teacher on Sunday night letting me know that Mat had won the character award and would be presented with his certificate on Monday at 9am. This is something that came right out left field. So I had to hustle things up and make sure that Millhouse was available to be at the school at 9am to get Mat’s picture taken. He won the character award because he is always kind, polite and follows the rules.

When he woke up on Monday morning, I let him know that he had won the award and he was blown away. He thought that because he could not write his numbers past ten that he would never win an award because the other kids in his class that had won awards, had won them because they could write their numbers up to twenty. So finding out that he had won an award was just something he didn’t quite believe.

At the awards assembly, he was the very last child called up for his award. And according to Millhouse, he could tell that during the ceremony Mat was starting to get antsy. I asked him about it afterwards and he said that he thought that they had made a mistake and that he was not going to get his award because it was taking so long for them to say his name. But at the very end, they said his name and walked up in his quiet, nonchalant way to get his award for being of good character.

I am super-duper proud of him. He really is a truly sweet boy who tends to be on the shy side. But winning this award has given him a little bit of confidence and has encouraged him to come out of his shell, just a bit.

I guess that is what these awards are about.

*I forget what the seven golden rules are but it has to do with being kind, polite, proactive, enthusiastic, and having good grades.

Sometimes I’m wrong. Not often, but it happens

I kept Maks in the kindergarten program at the daycare. The daycare told me that there curriculum was the same as the public school curriculum but by keeping him in the daycare; he could keep his routine, he would get three hot meals a day and there was extended drop off and pick up for me. Plus, it worked out to be cheaper. If I pulled him out of daycare, he would be enrolled in part time kindergarten so I would have had to find someone to look after him before school and the half day he was not in school. It was win-win and I left him in daycare.

I shouldn’t have. Keeping him in daycare fostered the bad habits that he already had. He slacked off and got away with it. Because his teachers wanted to make sure that they got a paycheque they did not try to discipline him. Instead, they let him do what he wanted. He didn’t have to focus, he just played. According to them he was excelling but in reality he was really behind where he needed to be.

Then grade one came around and things got hard. Maks had a really hard time adjusting to grade one and all the nuances associated with it. He floundered big time and he genuinely hated it. There were tears before school, at school and after school. It was rough. This year is 100% better because now he knows how things work and he is more confident in himself and his surroundings.

So when kindergarten time came around for Mat, I didn’t hestitate. He went to public school. By the time he was able to go to school, full day kindergarten was being offered and I took advantage of it. I was terrified that public school would be too much for him. He is the youngest kid in this class and the smallest in stature so I was convinced that he would be lost. But he wasn’t. He is thriving. He can write and is learning to read. He is very much like the other kids and asks a lot of questions. He has three teachers and they all give me objective feedback when I ask about his strengths and weaknesses. And I can see what they are telling me. Mat demonstrates the characteristics that they talk about and they give me ideas on how to encourage his growth, rather than just telling me that everything is OK. He is learning so much and I am glad that I did not keep him in the kindergarten program at the daycare.

And this is not a slight at daycare teachers but their objectives are not the same as the public school teachers. In public school, the students are numbers that they can objectively evaluate. If they are doing poorly, they tell you so because their job is not dependant on your liking them or not. At the daycare there is a direct correlation between the kids doing well and the teachers keeping their jobs.

I am glad that I was able to see the two different environments but I wish that I had pulled Maks out of daycare sooner. It would have made things easier.

A cookie for a pizza slice

Every month the school sends home a pizza order form for that month.  You can order pizza for two Friday’s in the month and a cookie for your child, if you are so inclined.  A slice of pizza is $2 and it is a pretty big slice, plus I run out of lunch ideas so I love pizza days.  You basically check off on the form what kind of pizza your child should have, how many slices and on what day and then send in the form & money and not worry about making lunch that day.

It’s fantastic.

Maks really enjoys it and this year, since he is now in the same school, Mat could participate as well.

Now it should be noted that because Mat is still so young; he tends to forget handing in things like his library books, his permission slips and his pizza money.  So when I sent in the form and the money, I also sent his teacher an email letting her know that I had sent in the form and enough money for two pizza days for him.  I put the form and the money into a Ziploc bag and had written “pizza money & form” on the bag so all he had to do was hand her that Ziploc bag.  I told her that as well so that she could make sure that she received from him what she was supposed to receive.  She emailed me back that afternoon and let me know that everything was received.

And that should be the end of that.

But then the story gets complicated.

A couple days after that I was cleaning out Mat’s bag and I found $2 from his pizza money, that means that one day was paid for but the other wasn’t.  What I figure happened is that when the Ziploc bag was in his backpack, it opened and one of the toonies fell out of the bag.  When he handed it to his teacher, she probably only saw one toonie and assumed that I only wanted to order one slice and that is what she handed in.

Since the deadline to send in the pizza money had passed by the time I discovered the rogue toonie, I sent Millhouse on a mission at the school.  He had to go into the office and explain what had happened with the pizza money and ask if they would amend the existing order to include a slice of pizza for Mat as well.  Normally, the office is very much against making any amendments to orders once the deadline has passed.  I don’t really blame them for that either, if they made concessions all the time, nothing would every happen on time.  But given that this was Mat’s first pizza day and that he did intend to hand in all the money, I was hoping that they would make an exception.  So Millhouse went in and the lady at the desk took the toonie no problem and said that Mat would get his order.

But she didn’t write anything down; she just said that it would be done, which in itself is a bit concerning.

Fast forward to two weeks after that conversation; pizza day rolls around.  I pack both boys snacks for their nutrition breaks and give Mat extra food, just in case.  I figure that since the lady didn’t write down his name or anything that there was a distinct possibility that Mat would not end up getting his slice of pizza.  And it is a good thing that I did because he never ended up getting his pizza.

He got a cookie instead.

Turns out that the office lady did amend the order but she didn’t put Mat down for a slice of pizza, she put him down for a cookie.  Now normally I would raise the dead over something like this but there were so many hiccups along the way and this was pretty much my fault for not sending the money in a sealed envelope, that I can just take this as a lesson learned.

It was a good thing that I packed him extra snacks that day because he never ended up getting lunch.

But that won’t happen again.

So Maks was going to be suspended

I swear when he is older, this will be a funny story; right now, not so much.  So the school sent me a letter.  Apparently, Maks’ immunization records were out of date and they needed to have them updated in order for him to stay at school.  If I didn’t send over an updated immunization record to the school by the end of this week, then Maks would be suspended and not allowed to return to school unless I could prove that he had all of his shots.  It was pretty straightforward, I do think that the suspension part was a bit dramatic but I had no doubt that the school would actually suspend Maks if I could not prove that he was not up to date on his shots.

But on a whole I was not too worried; I didn’t think that he needed to get any more shots so that part is easy.  Call the doctor, get the form updated and carry on.  So we took the form into the family doctor’s office and asked them to confirm that Maks had all his shots and that he could stay in school.  The doctor looked over the form and said that Maks was missing two of the shots and that he had to come in to get them.  Now this is the part where the panic starts.  Getting shots is not a pleasant experience and Maks starts to stress out at the thought of having to get needles (he gets that from his father).  Hence if he knew that he had to get two at the same time the reaction would be a meltdown.

So we made the appointment for Maks but did not tell him the reason why he was going to go to the doctor’s.  This was because the doctor himself warned us against telling him and we agreed.  Telling a seven year old that he needed to go in to the doctor’s office to get two shots would stress him the fudge out and literally ruin his weekend.  So we kept quiet and he had a good weekend.

When he went into the office today, he figured out pretty quickly what was going on but he went in like a trooper.  He didn’t cry and he put on a very brave face especially when the doctor said, he didn’t need two shots.

He needed three instead.

At hearing that, I really would have expected the save me face and a little bit of tears.  But he did neither.  He just sat there and did not look at the needle.  Now, mostly likely he is going to feel horrible over the next couple of days.  The shots are going to take their toll on him and he will not be a happy camper and that is more than expected.  But the form is now up to date and has been submitted to the school.  He will not be suspended, he will just be miserable.

Reliving Grade 1 in Grade 2

Grade 1 was hard.  Maks did not want to focus and he really struggled with the workload, the homework and paying attention.

When grade 2 started, we talked to him about the behavior that was expected of him and the kind of work that he would be required to do.

For the first couple of weeks, he was on point.  He would bring home his homework, and work on it as best as he could.  He would ask for help if he didn’t understand, and he made sure not to pretend like he knew what he was doing, when he didn’t.  His homework chart was getting filled up with stickers.

But last week, he went back to his old ways.

Homework stopped coming home and even though I asked about his homework ever night, he told me that he didn’t have any.  Now, his teacher gives nightly homework and she has been giving nightly homework since the second day of school, so I knew something was up with her not sending home anything for a week, so I sent her an email.

She confirmed that she had sent home homework every night last week and that Maks just didn’t bring it home.  When I talked to Maks about this, he gave me the long list of excuses from last year; he forgot his homework, he was talking and didn’t realize she was handing out homework, and he ran out of time to put it in his knapsack. He gave me the litany of reasons why he hadn’t brought his homework home.

But this year, I was prepared.  I took two stickers off of his homework chart and told him that he would have to earn the stickers back.  I also made him sit down and do all the homework that he didn’t do last week, last night.  He got no reading or play time, all he got was homework time.

But he did it all.

And he said that he would make sure to do it all from now on.

We shall see.

When the school calls three times

So normally I take my phone with me everywhere that I go, even when I am in the office. I tell myself that it is in case of emergencies but in reality, it is more because it gives me something to do when I get bored doing what I am supposed to be doing.  I usually don’t get calls on my phone during work hours.  The only people that call me during regular business hours are telemarketers and the school if something is wrong.  Those calls are enough for me to justify walking around with me phone.

Today though, I decided to leave it on my desk when I went into what was supposed to be an hour meeting.  The meeting ended up going just over two hours and when I ran out, I saw that I had three missed calls on my phone.

And they were all from the boys school.

This is where the mad panic starts.

The school called three times in 15 minutes; that means something bad has happened.  Given that they misplaced Maks once last year, I was pretty sure that they had lost Mat this time.

*Let panic ensue!*

So I called back and because by this time it was after school hours, there was no answer.

*The ensued panic rises to frenzied panic that is internalized so that I just looked frenzied and not so much panicked.*

So I try calling again, all while checking email to see if the school sent me an email saying that they had misplaced my child and checking my phone to see if I had any missed calls from my mother telling her that the school had called to tell her that they had misplaced my child.*

But I had no email from the school or missed calls from my mother.

And by this point I was on the fence about whether or not I should just leave work in my frenzied state and go to the school and find out what had happened to my children.

So I just kept hitting redial.

After five tries, I was able to track down the secretary and she started laughing when I told her whose mom I was.  She didn’t tell me why she was laughing, she just patched me through to the after school care because they were the ones that called and had something to tell me.

When I got through to the after school care teacher, she came on the phone laughing as well.

It took her about three minutes to compose herself enough to tell me what had happened.

No one misplaced my children.

Maks tore the back of his pants and he was walking around with a sweater tied around his waist because his underpants were visible when he walked around.

At this point, I immediately calmed down because both of my children were accounted for.

And then I started laughing.

The poor kid had snagged his pants on one of the chairs and ripped them in drama class, which was his last class of the day.  He didn’t realize that his pants were ripped until he sat down in after school care and felt the coolness on the back of his leg.  He was totally embarrassed and had made the teacher call me so he could get permission to leave early.  But by the time I finally got a hold of someone, him leaving early was not an option.

This will make for an awesome wedding speech.  🙂

*she’s the emergency contact if Beanz or I don’t answer our phones.

Different experiences of the same

When Maks started going to public school, he hated it.  There was even a day when he started crying when the teacher asked him a question because he was so outside his element and was so overwhelmed that the only way that he felt he could cope was by crying.

He would have such a difficult time in class but he loved going to the before and after school care.  He felt that the before and after school care reminded him of daycare and going there made things easier.  The groups were smaller and the teachers were there to help him with his homework if he needed it.  The part of his day that he looked forward the most was when he was at before and after school care.

It took Maks almost a year to get used to public school and all the nuances associated with school.  Grade two is going better and he seems to be adjusted to everything now.

And now, it is his brother’s turn.  Mat is having an equally difficult time getting used to public school.  He is way more introverted than his brother is so making friends and joining in conversations is something that does not come easily to him.  Also, Mat started school after all the other kids*.  So by the time he started, the other kids had known each other for at least one day more than he did.  And in the world of school, that extra day of exposure is huge.

Another thing that Mat seems to dislike a lot is his before and after school care.  He has told me that he is OK with his actual class and the people in it.  But he really does not like going to his before and after school care.  He thinks that they do not move as fast as his regular class moves and he gets bored very easily in that program.

I know that it is still very early in the year and that these feelings are most likely going to change as time goes on but I find it so fascinating that what one boy thoroughly enjoys, the other boy just despises.

It has me wondering if there is any way to please the two of them at the same time.

*Because his kindergarten class is so big, the school didn’t let all the kids start at the same time.  The SK’s started first and then the new kids would start based on their birthday.  Since Mat’s birthday is in the last quarter of the year, he didn’t start until the very last day of the first week of school.