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2005-07-05 - 7:23 p.m.

WOW!! I went to the NYS Dept of Education Site to compare schools. I was HOPING that the Buffalo School of Visual and Preforming ARTs fared well academically.

Well. That was an unrealistic expectation.

I was hoping that at least then School # 81 where Soren currently is isn't really THAT much different academically. That too turned out to not be the case.... at least based on the test scores. It is indeed one of the better public schools in Buffalo. I know his Grandmom worked to get him placed there.

I am reading between the lines of the conversation his DAD had with me. I know he didn't get into the Gifted program (nor I expect him to) and I know he is DOING VERY WELL at PS # 81 where he goes now. But I ALSO know that if you ask SOREN about school his description of his teacher is STRIKINGLY similar to his dramatic description of WESTELY!
Hmmm... a pattern here?
He also was in TEARS talking about how much he HATED school and how MEAN his teacher was when he talked to me about it.

This move is based on an EMOTIONAL need.

Sorry.... hate to burst anyone's bubble, but that emotional need is NOT going to be met by allowing Soren to be listened to and then taken away from the bad men

The bad Step-Father
The bad TEACHERS...

and MAYBE it is indeed GOOD that he'll have an outlet for his need for drama. MAYBE if it is CHANNELLED into a Venue like that he will not be dramatic about other areas of his life...

But maybe, just maybe it won't help.

Maybe his DAD should LISTEN to what I have said for years
That SOREN indeed is troubled emotionally.
Maybe, just maybe his FEAR of having no relationship with his FATHER WHO ABANDONED HIM is being addressed.

But MAYBE he'll just go on learning that is WORKS to lie and exaggerate to get what you want. That if you do that you GET OUT Of responsibility and challenges and having to do any work or listen to rules.


But one thing is sure. After looking at the school report cards and not really feeling any better, I then looked at our local district here and checked out the school Soren would be at. THAT WAS WHAT PROMPTED the WOW! I was literally SHOCKED at the HUGE differnce. It outpreforms the Buffalo Gifted SCHOOL- SIGNIFICANTLY. I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised at that. The last NY School district we were in showed up as # 37 in Newsweeks assesment of the TOP 100 Districts recentely. And while I KNOW that is not the end all be all in what is best for kids... I think there is SOME validity in using measurable critera to determine preformance. (At least within a state. To do so across state lines is just ludicrous) However that being said I DO think that SOREN'S biggest problem is one of ESTEEM. He has not had a strong sense of self. I see that the severing of the family relationships he has had HERE with us has indeed been very detrimental to him. I see that he never BEFORE complained about school but had LOVED it in the past. He will tell anyone how much he misses the LINCOLN community of friends he had at school that he was so happy to return to. But I also know the best thing for his esteem IS TO ACHIEVE well and be proud of himself. BEING at the TOP OF THE CLASS at a EASY school (in his assessment) isn't really buidling his esteem, nor would being at the top in math as well due to SNEAKING of help doing anything for him. (NOT THAT IS NECESSARILY THE CASE-- but if it were) MAYBE THE SCHOOL OF THE PREFORMING ARTS will be the best for him as SOREN will likely EXCEL there and with the development and actualization of his real talents perhaps that would be the best thing for his sense of self! So I am hopeful that this will indeed be a good move for him! It just irritates me that his DAD won't talk openly about any of the REAL issues. He just says that he think Soren would benefit from a less structured school. He just says that School #81 is too disciplined and he thinks confining of Soren developing talents. He just basically projects HIS INABILITY to have any discipline and responsibility in life onto his son-- and projects HIS DISCOMFORT with structure and organization and old fashioned disipline which the school used effectively. I tried to focus on the positive. It makes little sense to be argumentative about this issue. As my DAD said "Your being set up to be the bad guy again." if I try to argue over this decision. ITs true, If I OBJECT and push my LEGAL RIGHT to still be a joint legal custodian and make decisions, it will only create animosity IN SOREN who is excited about this as an opportunity for his unique talents. Personally, I believe that SCHOOL should be the place to develop ACADEMIC skills and disipline and have those elements taught which can be applied to jobs or any pursuit later on. I think natural talents of the ARTS-- whether dance or singing or a musical instrument or visual arts SHOULD ALSO be developed but ALONGSIDE the other academic areas, not in exclusion of those other skills! I know the Buffalo School of Preforming arts is WEAK in the areas of ENGLISH and MATH. They fortunately seem OK in Science. (Likely the difference of one talented teacher!) I STILL THINK ST JOES would be a better choice for SOREN. THEY are strong in ALL AREAS with a SUZUKI program as part of the curriculum and after school programs. But without the cash for that I can't well argue the point. I also think that Taking theater classes over the summer , and then on weekends should be enough immersion for Soren at this time. His DAD said "He's young enough that I think it would be good for him to explore this now" as if strong academics are more important LATER!! I think he has it BACKWARD. I think the most important years of education ARE WHEN YOUNG. And fortunately I think SOREN had outstanding PRE K and first grade experiences. I however think he had a downright crappy few years where he wasn't taught like an individual and his needs were not met. I actually think his teacher in Buffalo this past year WAS VERY GOOD! And Soren seemed to like him for the most part- but then if asked would get into the complaining session and seem to forget all the positive things he had NATURALLY said already about his teacher in relating school days as they occurred, and only focused on how he HATED SCHOOL (without any supporting anecdoatal reasons- just lots of dramatic tears and general upset reaction and saying he was bored and it was horrible... )

HE often complained about it being TOO EASY. I don't actually DOUBT that Soren is indeed GIFTED in some areas by the academic definition. I actually believe he is. But I think that in conjunction he ALSO likely has LD which isn't YET identified which is a challenge for him- thought not as obvious as the attention issues of Katerina which she had done well in managing. I think however he also compensates well and because of that it isn't something to be TOO worried about. But that doesn't mean I think it should be IGNORED. And I think it WILL CATCH up with him as he gets older. I just hope it isn't in the way I think it could.... I envision him getting busted some day cheating on a test. I envision that he'll get by for a long time compensating and HIDING his deficiency. I think he is inherently SMART and can do math, but that he needs ALOT more time to work through it. I know this from working with him. When he doesn't get it he PRETENDS he does understand. He used to just write ANYTHING down to be done with the homework. HE has ALWAYS done poorly on any standardized math test VERY POORLY like in the 20% range nationally. EACH time the school assumed it was an OFF day, that he didn't cooperate, or try. or maybe it wasn't HIS test and there was a MIX UP. But after seeing that THREE TIMES now I KNOW it is no mistake. And EACH time the test was discounted and NOT PUT in his academic file. BUT I HAVE THE COPIES OF RESULTS. Maybe one day SOREN will come to me in frustration, maybe when in college if he goes. I KNOW he'd go if with me. With his DAD who is not college educucated (much- since he dropped out when it became challenging, OF course when I MET him he was in school and acted like it was important!) I see a future where SOREN is encouraged in the ARTS and NOT in pursuing education. That is what I find MOST DISTURBING. ANyway-- that was an aside. MAYBE someday SOREN will come to me and seek his own self awareness. MAYBE someday I can TALK TO HIM about his tests. I have done so in the past and hope to be able to do so in the future. HE was open and honest WITH ME about the areas he needed help in. I REMEMBER when he got all stellar reports from his teacher and he was secure enough with me to tell me what he thought his school preformance and strengths and weaknesses were. I tried to call him last night to ask him why he wanted to change schools. I want to know if it was at his initiation or encouraged by someone else. I want him to consider all facets of that decision. I want him to be aware of the differences in the ranking of the schools ACADEMICALLY. I want him to consider if he has opportunity to develop talents in other ways. Of course there was no answer and I got the machine. But I'll talk to him about this soon. Normally parents don't have to have kids think so much about what I really see as ADULT concerns. And that brings me to a point I was aware of when the kids first went to Buffalo. My kids have to grow up a little more quickly . My kids HAVE to be the adult like ones in their situation. MY KIDS have to be given more information and greater control of some choices that either typical or fair. Because at some obvious levels their FATHER STILL is avoiding responsibility of being a parent. HE NEVER INITIATED CONVERSATIONS WITH ME REGARDING SOREN's EDUCATION and CONCERENS. SOREN TOLD ME ABOUT THE AUDITION. WHEN TALKING THEIR DAD DIDN"T UPFRONT TELL ME HIS REAL AGENDA/CONCERNS AND DISMISSED MINE. I SWEAR THEIR DAD IS MOTIVATED BY HIS VERY CHILD LIKE PERSPECTIVE ON LIFE. HIS OPPOSTION TO AUTHORITY- like his mother! HE acts like a defensive adolescent rather than a parent. HOW can anyone explain his being upset at the MONTOSORRI program he took Soren to at AGE 3 to check it out because they told SOREN where the blocks get put away and expected him to do that? HIS DAD was SO OFFENDED by that THWARTING OF CREATIVITY and the CONTROLLING NATURE OF THE TEACHER!! THAT WAS TOO MUCH STRUCTURE! Putting blocks away in a designated space and expecting a three year old to learn how to do that! It really was because AS AN ADULT that is a skill that is a challenge for Katerina and Soren's DAD! AND YES IT WAS ONCE A CHALLENGE FOR ME AS WELL-- IN MY DIABILITY Which I CAN recognize as such. But there comes a point in life where that is NOT an excuse and the only explaination IS IMMATURITY! THERE IS A DISTINCT UNWILLINGNESS AND RESISTANCE ON THE PART OF THEIR FATHER TO GROW UP AT SO MANY LEVELS! So I have to treat SOREN as the more mature in the situation. I have to have talks with SOREN about his HONEST assessment of strengths and weakenesses. I have to ask SOREN "If you ARE having trouble with math, do you think the way to handle it is AVOID the problem by going to a school that doesn't pay much attention to that, or do you think there is some OTHER way to handle that?" I hope Soren is as open and honest in talking to me as he has always been. I HOPE he hasn't been taught to be guarded and mistrustful of me. I think if I ASK him about his SELF ASSESSMENT of his academic skills- regardless of the report card, he will give me AN HONEST picture like he has done in the past. Because if this decision about schools is indeed SOREN motivated, I think he needs MORE INFORMATION. I guess regardless, if it is PARENT motivated, I think he THEN AlSO needs more information and my input as well. AND MAYBE placement at that school IS REALLY the best thing for him. I am open to that as a possibility. What I am not open to however is IGNORING all the facets of SOREN'S needs and DENIAL of the very real Educational Problems he faces. I am NOT OPEN to denial of the VERY REAL EMOTIONAL PROBLEMS HE HAS HAD AND STILL FACES. I AM NOT OPEN TO IGNORING THAT THE REAL ISSUES FOR HIM MAY HAVE MORE TO DO WITH HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH BOTH PARENTS THAN ANYTHING ELSE. His being miserable and unhappy at school is very likely NOT about school. Likewise his unhappiness when with WESTELY was likely NOT ABOUT WESTELY. I think SOREN is likely emotionally just a wreck as AFTER A YEAR IN BUFFALO, I seriously DOUBT that he REALLY has a much CLOSER RELATIONSHIP with his Father than he did before. His DAD takes off to his meetings nightly. His DAD has to invest all his energy in HIS survival.The kids STILL spend much time at GRANDMOM'S and SOREN doesn't have that contact with me and his sisters that he thrived on. I don't want That to be ignored. I DO NEED TO CALL the counselor in Buffalo and give her my perspective on the kids! (She was on vacation last week when I wanted to call.) And once again... I need to do alot of reading and see what is considered better for kids achievement academically and for self esteem- CHALLENGING ANd developing skills in weak areas, or relying on the strengths of the other areas to compensate and also achieve and build esteem? I actually think FOR ME I have to acknowledge that there are goals in life I HAVEN"T ACHIEVED (Like the BAR) that I think will only be attainable if I am willing to STRENGTHEN my areas of weakness. I think for me that it is clear this is HARDER to do when you start later in life. So at some level I think I WOULD Have benefitted from more intensive work when young on my organization and memory. I think WE DID THIS with Katerina and it is indeed a benefit to her. I think it a testament to that approach that many people would NEVER guess she is SEVERELY ADD without REALLY knowing her. (Although not one teacher would disagree with that assessment! They are ALWAYS relieved when they a have that conference and bring it up to find out we have been aware and gave her such support - despite her not having a label! I see the relief on their faces after they gingerly try to bring it up and are met with an enthusiastic "OH YES- YOU wouldn't believe the structure and support she has had to learn the skills she has") I guess I answered my own question here. Writing is clearly the method I USE to work out things for myself! But I am still open to seeing WHAT OTHER PEOPLE think. I also found a great site regarding learning disabilitys: DAMN I WAS THERE AND I KNOW ITS BOOKMARKED ANYWAY I'll find it again... It's target audience is KIDS and it helps them identify what a learning disability is and give lots of information. I looked at it THIS MORNING after saving it MONTHS AGO... but can't find it.... FIGURES! I Suck at organization EVEN ON MY COMPUTER! To someday think clearly... oh ... the dream of drugs making a difference..... Someday (when not nursing!) I AM STILL ANNOYED I can't get a DIAGNOSIS and PRESCRIPTION from the Psycologist after forking over $1700 to her! I mean what the hell is that all about??? The marriage counselor we saw her thinks I CAN push the issue and AT LEAST get a copy of the MMPI from her. Hmmm... WE'll See... but it seems like it wouldn't be a great idea to ARGUE with her over that BEFORE the custody trial is over! I MEAN AFTER Its over it would be WELL WORTH the $80 filing fee to sue her in civil court for my records of her assessment of me that I paid for! I think AFTER its over it would be difficult for her to win the argument that my PERSONAL eval can be ONLY USED for court purposes WHEN I PAID FOR IT. Enough ramblings for today. Off to take the girls OUT so I can have fun with them rather than obsess with worry about the kids NOT here. That is a REAL CHALLENGE I face daily. Edited to add this link of BPS END OF SCHOOL NEWS: My Katerina is in here SOMEWHERE! I AM VERY PROUD OF HER ACCOMPLISHEMENTS!

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