Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The 8th Circle Time of Hell

Subtitle: How my kids have declared war on criss cross applesauce and use Circle Time as their battlefield.

For the uninitiated, Circle Time in Preschool and Kindergarten is a lovely time of the day torturous invention where a teacher takes 10-20 children, puts them in a circle on a rug and goes over the calendar and weather and what not this usually takes about 15 minutes, but to my children you'd think it lasted 7 hours.  When I was growing up we were told to sit "Indian Style" however I think that term is frowned upon now and it has become "Criss Cross Applesauce".

Dante's Divine Comedy defines the 8th Circle of Hell as belonging to the Fraudulent.  In that circle Bowge IX belongs to sowers of discord.  Because of my children, well 3 of them anyway, I have been stuck in the 8th Circle of Hell for 11 years. 

My oldest son has his faults.  Behaving at school has never been one of them.  He has always gone to school, sat quietly and for the most part been the kid most teachers adore.  He's never been a stellar student.  And he is not studious, unless the topic really interests him.  But he has also never gotten into trouble.  The teachers in short have loved him.  I've had more than one teacher say, "If only I had a classful of D's.  He is an absolute joy."

After his 2nd year in Catholic school without so much as a demerit I began feeling smug.  I had this whole parenting thing down.  I was raising well-behaved wonderful children.  And I was delusional.  And my second son was about to show me just how delusional I was.

Preschool had been tough with J.  He pushed buttons teachers did not even know they had.  In his 3 year old class he had a friend named Jane.  J and Jane were kindred spirits.  The made quite an unlikely pair of leaders.  Jane was adopted from China, so she was this adorable, petite, dark haired, dark skinned doll.  J was half a foot taller than her, and he was fair skinned with platinum blonde curly hair.  And they ruled the roost.

They finally met their match in Miss Becky and she controlled them.  The teacher who had them as 2's I heard is institutionalized, but I can neither confirm or deny that report.  The school moved Miss Becky with them when they turned 4.  I think the other teachers were afraid of them, again a report I can neither confirm or deny.

After Pre-K J began the same Catholic School D was attending.  He had the same Kindergarten teacher.  A lovely woman who had been teaching for that Catholic School for 20-some odd years.  She and J did not mix well.  J was not fazed  by his clothespin being moved to yellow or red.  He did not care to do what she was asking.  And he certainly did not like circle time.

We spanked, threatened, grounded, took away privledges, rewarded -- in short everything we could think of.  Nothing worked.  Finally Kindergarten was over, and we moved the boys to the public school.  We chalked it up to J being a square peg in a round hole.  His first grade teacher was amazing.  He loved her and she him.  First grade was much easier than Kindergarten.

And my forays with Circle Time were reduced to nightmares involving teacher conferences where I was called a bad parent.  or so I thought.

Next came Boo.  He was so disruptive in circle time his 4-K teacher sent him to another room while she conducted circle time.  His Kindergarten teacher just allowed him not to participate.  He would get so frustrated with the other children because "Come on Madison, we did this yesterday. It's Monday, September 20, 2010.  Yesterday was Sunday, tomorrow is Tuesday.  The weather is cloudy. Are we done Miss Whoever?"

I hated Circle time as much as he did.  This was child #2 failing at Circle Time.  I was no longer Super Mom.  I was failing at Circle Time.  How flipping hard could it be to teach a child to sit still and shut up?

My daughter is now failing at Circle Time.  And apparently she doesn't care.  She could care less if her clothespin gets moved from green to yellow to red.  At Back to School Night, the teacher assumed if a child doesn't care if the clothespin gets moved, there must be no consequences at home.  When she said that, smug supermom reared her head again and - as I imagined my sensitive child crying over her clothes pin getting moved - I thought, "Well, at least she's not talking about me.  The Princess has consequences at home and is certainly not blowing off her clothespin getting moved."

Ummmm yeah, not so much.  As I found out after the Curriculum Spiel, when I spoke to her privately.  I was told she just doesn't care and goes right back to doing what she was doing that got her moved in the first place.  Smug Supermom didn't completely die, because this teacher believed that 5 year olds don't lie. I shattered that belief by telling her the Princess tried to hide the second note home when she was moved to red.

I am now counting down the days to First grade which will end my days in the 8th Circle Time of Hell.  Circle Time does not go to First Grade.  A fact I could not be happier about.

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