I have to say that I’m pretty pleased with how much Stella’s communication has improved over the past couple of months. Maybe it’s the speech therapy. I’m more inclined to give her school credit. I just seriously love that place and those people. She’s happy. I’m happy. I trust them, which is huge.
When we started – still a bit gun-shy from the Stepford Academy – about all I could get out of Stella was “playground.” Her teacher, Ms. T, would occasionally give me snippets or stories, but I recognize that she has roughly a dozen other students and can’t hang out with me discussing the minutiae of my daughter’s day. During those times, I relied on “mommy forensics.” In other words, I would make a study of the filth on her clothing and person and attempt to reconstruct her day.
- There is a pile of sand daily in her shoes. That’s a given. However, you know it was either a really good day or a really bad day (usually differentiated by how happy Ms. T is to see me when I come pick my kid up) by the presence/absence of sand in her butt-crack or scalp.
- Paint with or without glitter indicates art (duh). I’ve noticed that there is way more paint on her person when glitter is included indicative of a higher level of class participation. I guess she gets more “into” those projects.
- Food stains. This is actually a huge one, as my kid will occasionally get too wound up to eat. When I see spaghetti sauce or something that might be cheese-like on her elbows, I know she ate something substantial.
- The classroom star chart. This takes a quick glance, but tells me so much. Ms. T gives out stars when kids do things well, and the colors indicate what area they excelled in that day. Categories include “good manners,” “listening,” “helping friends,” and “cleaning up.” All awesome freaking skills. When they fill up their chart, they win a prize and adulation.
Bear in mind, she now tells me about her day. But it’s very much on Stella’s terms. Usually when I ask about food she’ll mention fruit or crackers. The stains help me flesh out those conversations. I also hear a whole lot about the playground, the swings, and the bikes. Best of all, each week she includes more stuff about her friends. More names are dropped. Apparently last week, she was really into a little boy I’ll call Bosco. During nap, her mat wouldn’t do. She abandoned her mat (which was snapped up by some other kid due to its luxurious size and the cool polka dotted cover I made for it) and decided to cuddle up next to Bosco. Ms. T said she didn’t fight it. She just wanted Stella to take a nap. Boy, do I understand.
I love that story. Will….not so much. I got a “boyfriend already?” out of him.
So while I still stay pretty stressed and tired, I am just so pleased with Stella’s school. Gone are the days I worry each morning when she is dropped off. Gone are the days I live in fear of my cell phone. I wish my kid could go there through high school, I swear. She’s making friends – and it’s a nice little culturally diverse group – and fitting in. She’s making friends.
But I do think my newfound mommy forensic skills are useful. For starters, I’ll get to use them on Felix some day soon. Secondly, parents love to speak about surly teenagers who only give monosyllabic answers when questioned about their days/lives. I’ll have a jump on that nonsense, won’t I?