Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Lame Blogging

I know. I am a lame blogger. Not lame as in limping or wounded, like lame as in weak. What a good 90s word.

At any rate, I just submitted all of my articles to a client for the next edition of their magazine and now I'm free. Sort of. I was just a few (6) days late. Makes you want to hire me doesn't it? But all that aside, I was finally able to upload pictures from our trip to Ohio/Michigan/Niagara Falls in August and then a few more from our activities this fall so far. My goal is to have them up tomorrow. Or, if I feel crazy, tonight. But right now I don't feel too crazy.

As an update on what's happening with Finn. . .same old, same old. We're meeting with the teacher tomorrow to go over some ideas, but the situation remains stressful for everyone. By reading between the lines with Finn, because you know how it is with kids--you're never quite sure what the heck they're saying--he doesn't like school because he's away from me and he's there for so long. On the surface, it's separation anxiety. But why? Why after a successful year last year is this happening? Yes, it's every day, but how did we go from Finn being with me 24/7 during treatment and then to preschool 3 days a week with no problems to where we are now? No, something else is at play here.

Our interpretation is that it's a combination of things. Eamonn and I feel we're seeing the result of spending four of your five years of life in a medical setting instead of with kids your age cropping up (socialization and coping skills), his sensory issues, and a teacher who is struggling to find his own way in the world. I could tell you a few stories that would curl your hair about how Finn receives multiple timeouts a week--where he is removed from the group and has to sit facing the wall. Or when the teacher took away a reward sticker Finn received from the doctor and threw it in the trash. Yep. All true. And out of the mouths of babes. When Declan heard about the sticker incident, he said, "Who does that to a little kid?" Our thoughts exactly. Yes Finn was probably playing with the sticker after being told not to. But wouldn't you take the sticker, put it on a piece of paper and give it back after class? Why would you throw something away that a child received as a reward from SOMEONE ELSE unless you had no common sense or are just a jackass?

From what we can deduce (yes, we moonlight as Nancy Drew and Frank Hardy), Finn doesn't feel successful at school. Who would with what's happening? He feels like nothing he does is right and instead of someone modeling the right behavior, he's just being punished for the "wrong" behavior. I'm not excusing Finn. I'm certain that he does speak out of turn and has trouble keeping his hands to himself. But despite our best efforts here at home, we need to feel like the classroom is a supportive, caring place. And it's not. Finn's anxiety tells us this without a doubt. What 5 year old wakes up at 5am and says he doesn't want to go to school because there's no one to look after him there? A 5 year old who is lacking whose confidence is shot and doesn't feel safe, that's who. If this was high school, I'd tell him to suck it up because we all have to learn to deal with people and teachers we don't see eye-to-eye with. But this is kindergarten--the year that sets the tone for your life in school! I don't know about you, but I remember kindergarten! I remember every year of elementary school and how much I loved it. Middle school? Not so much. But elementary school? It shouldn't be this hard for a kid.

So today I let the principal know that we will be meeting with the teacher tomorrow, but we are discouraged and frustrated. She asked if we felt the teacher wasn't a good fit for Finn. Um. Bloody freaking right. So now it's out there that our intent is to move Finn, sooner rather than later. It's actually is a relief that she knows this.

I'm getting gray hair.


Anonymous said...

Oh Natalie. My heart is breaking for Finn and for the rest of you, too. Get him in another classroom soon! He's supposed to have fun at school and he's already been through so much in his life that he really deserves to have a blast in kindergarten! I'll keep praying for good changes for the whole Rooney family.
Sheila in MN

Kim said...

What??? This is kindergarten for crying out loud! What a total turd of a teacher--he should be teaching middle school, not 5 year olds. I say, move Finn--immediately--do not pass go--do not collect $200. His treatment so far has been so wrong. My heart is breaking and I don't even know you guys.

Kim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leeann said...


I am a parent. I am a teacher. You are right in each and every way. If Finn was out tomorrow it wouldn't be a day too soon.

Bless your heart. I know you and Eamonn are just dying inside, watching Finn.

And Declan? A total high five to the boy.


MyriamC said...

Ditto to what all the others said. Move Finn, as soon as you can.
Big hugs to all of you.

Anonymous said...

I would be horrified if a teacher was treating my child this way. I hope you can get Finn moved to another class (hopefully Mrs. Angel's!). I pray that the new teacher builds his confidence back up and helps him learn that school is fun. And let me know if you are getting that lynch mob together!

amber in mansfield

Robin said...

Good God-- put the teacher in a time out! I am spending some time in my daughter's school, and I see discipline problems. And never is the child denigrated in this manner. The assumption is that they are 5, and still learning social skills. You said it exactly right: If this were high school he would need to adapt. But these are the first moments of his experience of school, and EVERYONE should be working to give him and every other child a postive experience.

jbaj said...

I had a problem with my youngest son only it was when he was 4 and not 5. He absolutely hated the pre-k program he was in. He had been with me 24/7 up to that point and I think it was probably too much too soon. He started getting stomach aches. He was physically making himself sick - wouldn't eat and lost weight that he couldn't afford to lose..

I pulled him - like you - sooner rather than later and I never regretted it. He is now a thriving 2nd grader who hasn't been sick like he was (for 3 months) since he was 4.

My heart breaks for you and for Finn because nothing is worse than seeing your kid so miserably unhappy. And my gosh doesn't this kid deserve some happiness? You are so right there.

Good luck in your meeting tomorrow. You are doing the right thing.

Melissa Parsons said...

Natalie & Eamonn -
You are definitely doing the right thing by Finn by seeing to it that he has a new teacher. You are absolutely right that this year will set the tone for Finn's school 'career'. Do not hesitate. Be the squeaky wheel. Do not back down, or be talked out of it. You are right!
[Anne's friend from Columbus - remember me?:)]

Lauren said...


I am having an incredibly visceral response to your post--I feel like throwing up. Really; punched-in-the-stomach sick. I feel sad for Finn, but I know he'll be OK because you guys are solving this problem. But I also feel sad that this young teacher is so lost, and other kids are going to suffer too. He is more than just a little wrong or misguided, and Finn's sensitivity is not the problem.

I too worry about Fergus and his social/emotional development. Being on treatment for years changed him that way too, though perhaps he was going to be different anyway. He has some characteristics of sensory integration issues, and some characteristics--maybe--of mild Asperger's. His issues are relatively mild, in that around people he knows well he just seems imaginative and creative and mostly charming. But in new social situations, or with new peers, he can seem really awkward and out-of-synch. That's why we were shocked--and a little delighted--that he willingly went to the week long cancer kids camp. I think if he were in school, we would be having many of your problems. We had a small taste of it when the kids took swimming lessons from a "disciplinarian" type guy, who didn't seem to understand Fergus' water anxiety and pretty much tried to shame him into behaving.

You said in a post to me (jokingly) that you were too weak to send Finn away to camp. I think I might be too weak to send Fergus to school! (Though to be fair, homeschooling was always my plan, even before cancer.) The jury will be out for years regarding whether homeschooling helped Fergus or hindered him; I can only hope that our choice is right for him. I know it isn't right for many families. I also know though that you and Eamonn are doing a fantastic job as Finn's advocates, and that in the end you will find the right class and right solution for him. Your family is blessed to have each other.

Sorry this got so long! Boy, the things I could say or ask you if we were having tea...


Anne Kimnach said...

I'm about to cry for Finn, Natalie, and you know I'm not really a crier. My heart hurts for him, and more for you. Someone gave me a card when Will was born that said "Being a mother is choosing to have you heart go walking around outside your body." (or something to that effect, I'm probably totally screwing it up)

I'm praying for Eamonn, Finn and you!

Jane Copes (Professor Sepoc) said...

I was hoping things were getting better. But you can solve this. I know you can. Wishing for a fabulously better time for Finn soooooon. Jane

Emily said...

Good for you Natalie! I know it may be a little uncomfortable to be asking that Finn be moved to another teacher, but if your gut tells you that is what needs to happen then go with it! Very few beginning teachers can handle children with Finn and my Shelbi's issues. You are doing a great job being his advocate-keep up the good work!(BTW, It's Emily from CenturyTel messaging from home).

Anonymous said...

I would move him asap. My daughter had a terrible Kindergarten teacher and she's now in 8th grade and still talks about what a terrible year it was - and she had not had the trauma Finn has had in his life. I have no idea why some people go into teaching - you should at least like kids before you choose this profession.


Anonymous said...

I would move him asap. My daughter had a terrible Kindergarten teacher and she's now in 8th grade and still talks about what a terrible year it was - and she had not had the trauma Finn has had in his life. I have no idea why some people go into teaching - you should at least like kids before you choose this profession.


Anonymous said...

Wow I just got caught up on all of Finn's school problems and feel just horrible for all of you. The only thing anyone wants as a parent is to see their child happy.School is such a big part of a child's life. As a teacher I spend more time with the kids than their parents. I look at teaching as an honor---that people are trusting me with their precious litlle people is a priviledge.

Initially I understood your feelings about keeping him with the teacher so as not to have more change, and now I also agree with your decision to have him moved. You gave it your best, but this teacher is not equipped to deal with Finn. Maybe someday when he has his own children he'll understand. I hope he comes to at some point to apologize to you.

We had one really bad experience with a preschool teacher of Jeff's and years later it still bothers me that I didn't trust myself.

YOU know what is best for Finn.

So my thoughts are with you today. Good luck at that meeting. Please let us know what happens.
Love, Karen in CT

PS When are you coming to New York?

Anonymous said...

my heart hurts for Finn and your family...we went through a similar circumstance when my son was in kindergarten. his teacher quit the day before school started and the new wing of the school wasn't ready ontime so his classroom was a makeshift classroom in the cafeteria which meant the children didn't leave their seats for ANYTHING except recess and twice a week for gym. They had music, library, spanish and even lunch at their little table. Well, my son did not handle it well and for two months was constantly on timeout or having recess taken away from him - it was a nightmare. Fortunately, he did better when the new wing opened on 12/1 and he was in a nice room. The following year he had a wonderful teacher who was nurturing and kind and brought out all the best in my son - not one timeout or lost recess for the whole year. He's now thriving in third grade but when I think about his kindergarten year, my acid reflux kicks in.

Stay on top of things daily - get Finn moved immediately and my one piece of advice would be to involve your pediatrician (if you've got a good one who will step up for you) as mine was so supportive and even contacted the principal of our school to instruct her that "in her medical opinion, recess should never be taken away from a child" HA!

good luck!

M, Ms. R, Mom, Auntie M, Marey said...

Okay....move to CA and Finn can be in my kindergarten class....there is no way ANY kid should be treated that way...especially a kid who has had such a screwed start to life! In my class there are no time outs where you face the wall and if I take a sticker away I get to wear it! Sounds like the teacher needs to visit the onc ward.
Ali's mom