Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Parent-Teacher Conference, Take 2

Last year I went into Jacob's parent-teacher conference unsure about what to expect.  I mean, I knew his behavior was a problem but I wasn't sure if it was a problem or a PROBLEM.  Obviously it's not ideal to have a difficult child, particularly when you're dealing with nine other children at the same time, but there's a difference between a child with problems and a normal child dealing with age-appropriate issues.  You can read about the conference here, but in general it was more or less a non-event.  Jacob was difficult, yes, but most of what he was dealing with was normal enough.  I was a little annoyed that they were trying to put him into a "box" where he played just like the other kids, but I appreciated their plight of having to deal with a kid who didn't always conform.  Of course, at some point after that he was the main inspiration for the sticker chart in the two-year-old room, so obviously it was more than just a passing issue.  And a year later, we're still dealing with a lot of the same issues.  He still doesn't listen very well--and as an added bonus, he can be that much more independent--and he still doesn't express himself particularly well when he's angry or upset.  However, he does have slightly more diverse interests now (sports AND superheroes, at minimum...and a willingness to look into other things, too). 

This year, things pretty much couldn't have been more different.  Pretty much from the moment we walked in, his teacher couldn't stop gushing about him.  She talked about how SMART he is, the smartest in the class possibly.  She talked about how funny he is, and how his biggest problem is probably his reluctance to clean up...which we deal with all the time at home, too.  She said he's great with all his letters, numbers, colors, motor skills, and that he's very talkative.  She told us about the bug flash cards they've been doing this week, and how he was the first one to memorize them all.  He's great during circle time.  His behavior's been much better, and they're pretty much thrilled with him. 

Well...huh.

I'm obviously thrilled to hear it all.  I'm happy to hear he's smart.  I knew that already, of course, based on things I see from him, but to hear that when looked at among his peers he's doing well, that's comforting.  He's got a good memory, though I wish he'd remember the stuff we tell him all the time about his behavior and all that, rather than some random, insignificant moment from six months ago.  I know he's smart because he knows how to be silly in "smart" ways, like rhyming words to be goofy or telling stories.  I can tell when he's testing us and pushing buttons, so it just shows how much he takes in and files away for future use.  He's probably not as clever as he thinks he is, since I do catch on, and he thinks he's hilarious.  He would be as funny as he thinks he is if he wasn't being defiant or stalling in the process.  Anyway, it's good to know the building blocks are there for a smart child.

It's good to know his behavior is good at daycare, but I wish it was more like that at home.  I know he trusts us more and he's just testing his boundaries, but at a time when I feel like most of what comes out of my mouth is some sort of instruction, reprimand, or flat-out yell at Jacob, I really wish some of that would spill over to his home life.  I try not to let him get away with things too much at home, and yet he still pushes constantly.  It's tiring.  I guess I'm glad no one else has to deal with it, but it'd be nice to get a little more of that at home.  Heck, some of the stuff he did to show his aptitude in preparation for this evaluation, he'd never do at home for us when prompted.  I can't even get the kid to smile for a picture, for goodness sakes, let alone a good chunk of the skills checked off on that report.

Knowing that he may be extra smart (seriously, his teacher couldn't stop gushing), I can't help but wonder if we'll have a challenge ahead of us to keep him engaged.  The knock on a lot of naturally smart kids is that they get bored easily in school and tend to act out.  Smart kids figure out more quickly how to work the system, and take advantage of it.  Are we facing a future of having to keep him focused on his tasks and avoiding the pitfalls that come with an energetic yet intelligent kid?  Good problem to have, I know.

I'm just shocked at the contrast between this year's conference and last year's.  I'm so glad he's fitting in better and he seems to be near the top of his class in skills, since last year there seemed to be a lot of areas where he was lacking.  This year he seems to have things down pat, and yet I don't feel any more confident in my parenting beyond having some indication, based on how he acts at daycare, that we must be doing something right.  He's growing, he's learning, and he's turning into quite the little person.  Nice to get a little validation, but there's still a lot of work to do.      

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