Quandary: The Follow-Up

To review: Kate was acting sick in the morning. I suspected it had something to do with Classmate. I didn’t know what to do. (And THANK YOU to everyone who weighed in on that post.)

This is what happened since I wrote that.

1. I emailed Kate’s teacher Mrs. M about the situation. She emailed back saying she had noticed Kate dragging herself into the school, but said once she got into the classroom, all was fine. She proposed we meet to talk about Kate.

2. I ran into Mrs. M at Flora’s violin concert. I will tell you right upfront: I did not want to drag Classmate’s name into it directly. Maybe see if she was having issues in general with her classmates or something like that. I had no intention of even mentioning Classmate if I didn’t have to.

3. Mrs. M mentioned Classmate right off the bat, and said she noticed the two girls were having conflict. So that was out in the open.

4. Mrs. M and I did finally get together this week to talk about this issue, and to talk about what we need to do moving forward.

Here’s the upshot:

(I’m paraphrasing Mrs. M here) Kate is a bright and social child. She gets along with everyone and is very well liked in her class. She gravitates toward Classmate because Classmate is also bright and well liked. However, Classmate is also melodramatic and knows the fine art of manipulation. She is mature beyond her years — she’s kind of had to grow up fast.

(To review, again, Classmate is the child of divorced parents who do NOT get along. Her father has remarried and has another child with Classmate’s stepmother. The women do not hide their antipathy toward each other, and the mother… when she talks about her ex-husband, I cringe. I wonder if she talks about him like that in front of Classmate, and I wonder how her current husband takes it. This sounds all gossipy, and I don’t mean to be gossipy, but this is all directly affecting my daughter, and this is my blog, so there ya go.)

(Paraphrasing, again) Mrs. M said she keeps a close eye on all the children in her classroom, and will be sure to watch interactions between Kate and Classmate. She says that when Classmate seems to be getting dramatic (in general), she tries to step in and stop it. She also has been working hard to keep the girls occupied in activities not with each other. If there’s group work, for example, she doesn’t put them in the same group. As a matter of fact, she told me about a time where she distinctly put Classmate and Kate in two different groups on purpose, and somehow they managed to team up anyway. So she’s going to watch out for that.

Here’s my take: Yes, Kate is bright, and Kate is social. Kate is also a little sister, and as such, I think she tends to take a follower role rather than a leader role. She’s not very alpha, in other words. Which is not to paint my Kate as a doormat or wallflower — oh, no. She is incredibly energetic and outgoing. I think I mentioned that recently. She likes to be with people, and she likes to be with people who attract other people. There’s also the dynamic between Flora and Kate that Kate is probably used to. You know, the bickering dynamic. While Flora and Kate *can* play very nicely together, they don’t *choose* to play nicely together all the time. Probably not even half the time, frankly. There is also the fact that Kate lives in a safe, stable, and loving home environment with little serious conflict. As such, she doesn’t have (or need yet) street smarts the way Classmate does.

While Mrs. M keeps an eye on things in the classroom, I will keep an eye on things at home. I plan to check in with Kate often. We have ground rules for going to school, even when Kate feels sick (in short, if she’s not running a temperature, she’s going).

For the record, I believe that Kate *is* sick, so to speak. I’m sure some mornings her stomach is churning and her head hurts. She’s having anxiety about going to school sometimes. It’s actually pretty normal, probably, to be anxious about going to school. She’s got to learn to deal with it, with support from me and her dad. And she has to know we’re on her side. I talked to her about my talk with Mrs. M. I talked to her about talking to Mrs. M and me if she has a problem with Classmate (or any classmate for that matter). At home, I try to treat the girls fairly, and I try to give each of the kids a little bit of individual attention. Even if it’s just five minutes a night, focused attention seems to help them.

I hope I handled everything okay, and I hope I continue to. What do you think, readers? Did I do all right? Anything else I should have my finger on going forward, so to speak?

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10 thoughts on “Quandary: The Follow-Up

  1. I think you did it perfectly. You spoke with the teacher – who was already aware; she sounds like a good one! – and you’ve put in place some strategies to work through this. You and Mrs. M are clearly on the same page and willing to work as a team. I think that’s exactly what needed to happen.

    Stuff like this doesn’t get solved easily or neatly. You’re doing a great job!

    • Yeah, Mrs. M is sharp. She loves working with kids; you can just tell. Grateful she and I are on the same page, and that with some time and attention, Kate is going to come through this fine. And hopefully having learned some things.

  2. Seems spot on to me. Talking about it openly with her going forward is probably a good idea, too. You guys (and Kate) are awesome! It also sounds like her teacher is pretty great, too. A Valuable Learning Experience for everyone.

    • I just try to check in without grilling her, like over her folder work or something. “Oh, you did Spanish colors today! How was the day otherwise?” Her teacher is great, very savvy about kids — more savvy than I for sure.

  3. I think you handled it great. My wife and I stay in contact with school and have had situations but we communicate with the school and I believe most teachers really care about our kids. I know from experience that my kid’s teachers do and I trust them with my kids. But I also regularly contact them and make myself available. Communicating with my kids is important also, I need to know what is going on, on the bus, in school, at recess, etc. We had to have seating changed at the bus this week because of a bullying situation. But, we talked to my daughter and the teacher and now we will monitor it.

    Thanks for sharing, I always enjoy reading.

    • Thanks. I feel the same way about the teachers at my girls’ school (and the ladies at M’s daycare). They really care about the kids; they want parents to be involved; they are available for conversations and solution building. Communicating with my children is important too, and what I try to tell them (in words and action) at least daily: I love you no matter what, and I’m on your side/I have your back.

  4. Wow, and I thought school was just about multiplication, “Dick and Jane,” and eating paste. Turns out, it’s more like Dynasty. (Does anyone even remember what Dynasty was, by the way?)

    Sounds to me like you are all over this. You are WAY more perceptive than my mother was. I’d get into fist fights with school bullies, come home with a swollen eye, and my mother rarely noticed. Between you and her perceptive teacher, I’d say things are going to work themselves out.

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