Thursday, November 30, 2006 [SEE Photo Album for Thanksgiving additions]
It’s a grumpy day in Hot-Lanta. I meant that literally – we ran the air conditioner last night because it was so stuffy in my house. It’s pouring rain – that always puts me in a foul humor.
Alesia still has not started, and the PMS is wearing us all down. Mother said this morning she was worried because Alesia spends a lot of time in her room, and I just looked at her and said “Do not chide her about it. Let her alone. It’s a GOOD thing.”
This morning, I had to fuss at Alesia because I found something in the family room I never expected to find. Right there, on the end table next to where Alesia always sits, next to the remote control, was a huge TOENAIL. Eeeeuw! I have told her numerous times, she is not allowed to clip her nails in the family room – that is to be done in her room or the bathroom and then she is to retrieve the nails and throw them away. We do not need to keep them for forensics experts to examine, or as souvenirs. So this morning, after I flipped on the light and made her get up – this is our ritual, she must rise, get out of bed, and hug me before I leave the house in the mornings – I had to fuss at her about the Toenail Violation.
I said “Since you have violated this policy and been warned several times that it is NOT acceptable to leave your toenails lying around like that, you will be punished. I don’t know how yet, but I want you to think about it all day. I will tell you your punishment when I get home tonight.” She was, understandably, quite grumpy and not inclined to hug me. I grabbed her and hugged her anyway, picturing in my mind the hug Michael Corleone gives his lying brother Freddo just before kicking him out of the family in Godfather II. [Life Lesson reminder: I need to rent all 3 Godfather movies and show Alesia. She should know that while I speak Italian and love the food and culture, Italian men are to be avoided.]
I had a talk with Alesia’s tutor, Bronwyn, last night. We are going to stop the history lessons for now and concentrate on Language Arts, Math, and Science. I am irritated because the History part of the curriculum includes studying things like the geography and culture and indigenous animals of Argentina. One day she spent the day studying Uganda. I just don’t see the point of her wasting time on that right now, though, when the other subjects need to be covered. She barely knows anything about American history, but I can help her with that myself.
Alesia did some of the reading comprehension exercises in the 6th grade workbook and I graded them Tuesday night. She did well, but she and I got into a big argument, because she insisted I was wrong to say a sentence must have a subject and a verb. She really doesn’t understand what a sentence is yet. I know Miss Kerivan covered that in Language Arts last year but she managed to confuse Alesia on it.
Alesia insisted a sentence like this is correct: Bring some water. I pointed out that the word “me” is implied in that sentence. I also reiterated my firmly held belief that the more one reads, the easier it is to know what a proper sentence looks like, and that one absorbs the rules of grammar and punctuation, etc. when one reads a lot. I make her read a book a week.
After some more back and forth, she finally resorted to saying “I can’t learn!” which ticked me off. I asked her if she wanted to scrub toilets for the rest of her life. Mother jumped in and said people who scrub toilets for a living don’t make any money – they live in rat-infested places with lots of other poor people. Mother started to expound on that, but I stopped her. I didn’t really want to go down that road, because Alesia spent the first 13 years of her life living in desperate, dismal conditions, so it’s not like she doesn’t understand poverty. After a little more dialogue on why it’s not good to do manual labor the rest of one’s life, I finally just said:
“Alesia, some people simply cannot learn. Their brains don’t work right. Nicki [a little girl in her dance class who has Down’s] cannot learn much at all –her brain is very limited. Neither can your cousin Robert – he can only learn on about a first grade level. It’s terribly sad. They are very limited. You, on the other hand, have a terrific brain. You have gone from reading on a 2nd grade level last January to reading on 6th or 7th grade level now. That’s 5 reading levels in less than a year. Do you know how amazing that is? Not one person in 10,000 could do that, kiddo! You have an amazing brain. You have a brain like a finely-tuned high performance sports car. It’s an incredible machine that can go very fast and very far. However, the fuel it needs to run is called EDUCATION. If you don’t get a good education, that car won’t go anywhere. Without an education, that car will sit in the driveway and rust away to the point it won’t run. WITH an education, there’s no telling how far you can go. You can be a doctor, a scientist, an engineer – anything you want.”
Alesia smiled and ducked her head at my analogy, but I could tell I had gotten to her. I’ve got to build up her self-confidence and self-esteem and I am floundering.
I have been sort of proud of myself for coming up with the Sports Car Brain analogy. Bronwyn said on the phone last night that Alesia is doing really well with her tutoring. However, the Toenail Violation makes me wonder if her Sports Car Brain needs a tune-up or if it’s just typical kid behavior…