Thursday, 17 September 2009

Today is a day for biting back.

Today is not a good day. Today is a day for being someone else. Today is a day for running away to sea, for joining the foreign legion for being anything but what I am. Yesterday was not a good day but today definitely stinks.

Today is so bad I may have to attack the kitchen. I have already embarked upon a blitzkrieg of my studio under cover of darkness and look and smell like something the cat has peed in so what do I have to lose if I now scrub the work surfaces with some vile toxic potion guaranteed to kill all the jolly microbes in the fosse septic? Not my equilibrium that has gone already. Nope, today I am not a happy woman.

It is blowing a gale outside, how apt as I am brewign up a storm inside too, and autumn, freshly arrived with a scowl, has brought an air so thick with damp that my joints ache and my fingers are too stiff to paint and I keep dropping things. Our Broadband hates bad weather and the only thing that has managed to fight its way through cyber space is an invitation from a women’s international expat group to ask me if I will blog about life in France. Ladies today is not a good day, my writing is not going to encourage or inspire people to travel and embrace the expat life. They will read my blog and weep.

The morning started if not with joy at least with hope. Hope that after yesterday things might in fact have improved. I was woken at 5 by a nightmare which involved my trying to recapture our Labradors whilst being berated by a small dark French woman complaining that they should not be allowed to roam free. I totally agree madam, no need to invade my already distressed psyche to tell me that but if you can find a way to repair the electric fence then please be my guest because it stumps me. Breakfast was fine if you ignore the fact that it was eaten at 7am to the accompaniment of the sound of the wind impersoanting a train outside and one of the cats licking blood from the floor, he having caught his own breakfast, and another of them savaging me as I went past to put the kettle on. The school run was bearable and, on the way home, we even remembered to post the terribly urgent letter we forgot to post on the way there.

At home I collected the eggs, only dropped one, got youngest mustered for school and we were doing fine despite the contents of the kiln looking as if they have developed small pox because of a glazing fault. I was ignoring the feeling of rising panic in my chest, ( you know that feeling when something tells you that you are really should runaway very fast whilst your brain is ignoring it,?) until we got to school and I kissed smallest on head and said have a good day and try hard with your writing at which he dropped his head and he said “I always try my hardest but my teacher doesn’t believe me she says I don’t. But it’s Ok you don’t have to go in and see her.She thiks there is nothgin wrong with me I just don't try”

Is manslaughter still considered a crime of Passion in France because I may well have to kill this woman? Woman? Well actually barely out of college so more a post teenager, a new teacher determined to be firm and sure that we parents are just being namby pamby English and if we only pushed him harder he would be fine. A teacher who has, it seems, decided that in the one term she is gong to be there (she is covering maternity leave for yet another new teacher) she will cower him into writing neatly by sheer force of her scowl and meanness. The school knows he has dyslexic and dysorthographie but she it seems with all the conviction of youth knows better than the orthophoniste ,,to whom he goes once a week to help him fathom the unfathomable depths of writing, the specialist well, no actually the two specialists, who conducted a barrage of tests on him and have decided that is what he is and are trying to decide what can be done to help him. Nope this new teacher says, he must try harder at writing, keeps him in at break time because he doesn’t finish his work, rolls his eyes when he comes back at the end of the day to collect the books he has forgotten and has told him no, he can not use the specially shaped pens recommended by all the aforementioned professionals he must use the ones school provides, which are basically cheap and flimsy and terribly for handwriting but hey what would I know I am only a mother and a teacher and old enough to be her mother at that and if I was I would box her ears.

I know any child needs to be encouraged to develop a positive, determined attitude and that hard work is necessary to overcome the obstacles presented by dyslexia. I also know children will reflect the attitudes of their parents and teachers so authority figures in the child’s life need to help develop personal confidence and inspire the child not to give up, not demoralise them even further when they already feel they are letting everyone down by falling so far behind their siblings and school mates.

And I write this not for sympathy nor for effect but to so I will keep my promise and not go into see teacher and I will not give in to my strongest of urges to run away with him and protect him form all those people who think deep down that its just laziness and pure bloody-mindedness and quite frankly a bit of an embarrassment to have a 9 year old who can’t write as well as his friends.

This is why today is a bad day and which is why next time the cat bites me in passing I may have to go and bite the cat back.


Milla said...

well you know I'm with you here, whether or not you want sympathy, since my boy has been bullied so, although not turned beneath the pin of an inadequate teacher, I understand all too well that fierce maternal thing. I think you need a wax doll but I would, seriously, most def, name and shame that teacher, fix her with a firm English eye and remind her of the extra struggles he has. Bloody old bag.

gaelikaa said...

Take heart, dear! Your kid has a great mum. That's half the battle won already. There is a great Indian film about a kid who overcomes dyslexia. It's called "Taare Zameen Par" (Stars on the Earth) starring Amir Khan. It would make you feel happy if you could see it. If you could get it with subtitles cf course. It's in Hindi.

Pondside said...

Bite the teacher while you're at it. You're entitled.
When our oldest was in Grade One I was called in for a meeting because of his 'poor small motor skills'. He might need help, he was far behind, it might be a symptom of something more serious.
She was young and a first-year teacher. I wanted to ask if she had any brothers.
In the end I brought some of his complicated lego constructions in for her to see. He didn't have small motor difficulties, he just hated to cut and colour.
Bless your littlest - he's lucky to have a mother bear for a mother!

Elizabethd said...

So hard when teachers 'know best'. Total sympathy from an ex-special needs teacher, who always found it better to listen to the children rather than browbeat them.

Fennie said...

Just to say hello - well out of friendship really and to hope that with a glass of Muscadet or two you are feeling better. I am sure you give youngest all the confidence he needs to rise above what the teacher is doing and to treat it as an exercise. 'Let's pretend this isn't real and see what happens.' What is this trying to teach me - why, no matter what the provocation, no matter the insult, no matter the aspersions and the innuendo, I am going to smile at my teacher (whatever I may want to feel inside) and to be polite. All of which is a far more important lesson in life than learning to write neatly. But gosh it's a difficult lesson and one that I am still trying in my stumbling way to learn half a century after similar sorts of cruelties and disappointments. I guess we all live through it in some way or another.

elizabethm said...

This is so harsh it is making my blood boil for you and your son! How about a stiffly worded letter to the head - that wouldn't be going in to have a word with the teacher would it?

annakarenin said...

How bloody frustrating and am in awe of your restraint. Can't understand why she would want to make things difficult for herself by ignoring professionals your son is a victim of sheer obstinancy. Silly silly woman.

Woozle1967 said...

Oh, UPL! What can I say? I hope today has been a better day for you; that you didn't bite the cat or box the ears of the teacher, and that your darling boy knows just how proud of him you are, regardless, and that gives him the strength to cope with said wet-behind-the-ears idiot teacher!xx

Fred said...

Vile, vile girl, for that is what she most probably is. I have that particular tee shirt several times over and it is the most wretched garment to wear. Can't you go and see the Head or whatever they're called in France? You wouldn't be breaking any promises.

Sally's Chateau said...

My heart goes out to the little chap, you stand firm and if necessary go do battle with the school, a bad teacher such as this can knock his confidence badly. Go on, go deal with it. x

Friko said...

Kids are resilient, he'll get over her the minute she's gone again. He has all the support he needs at home, so much more important.

And apart from that, Mrs. Loufoque, how was your day?

thanks for the mail, now I know where to go/come/do the necessary.

snailbeachshepherdess said...

I'll just nip over and bite the buggers with you. Just give that boy a big hug for being brave.

Blossomcottage said...

Oh this brings back such memories of my son and I thought things had at last changed but sadly it seems not.
We removed him from one school because he was being bullied, he began to do well at the new school until we had a STUPID narrow minded teacher who said he was lazy and not very bright, knowing this not to be true I had him tested during the holidays for dyslexia and sure enough that was the problem, they also tested his IQ, with great delight they said he was in the top 5% so should manage very well.
Armed with this information we returned to the teacher and this time I was told I was stupid, there was no such thing as dyslexia. Ahhhh!!!! just stupid lazy boys and over indulgent parents.
Anyway just before I removed my son again, the teacher was removed and the new teacher called me in the first week and said Did you know that your son is dyslexic!
We never looked back from that day on he got a First at Surrey in Civil Engineering, went onto Price Waterhouse Coopers and took his Accountancy exams, was in the top three in his final year and now in his early 30's he is the Finance Director of one of the largest Commercial property companies in the UK.
Stand your ground shout and bawl as much as you need to, I did for mine, and would do it all over agin.

patsy said...

Fight, fight, fight! There has to be a way of convincing the teachers that your son is not lazy, both you and he know he is not ( have him assessed for dyslexia/ dyspraxia?)but the French system seems to allow little deviation from the "norm." My articulate, bright dyslexic boy was also doing extremely complex Lego models from an early age, just like Pondie's boy but found it difficult to write neatly or follow a series of instructions. One day he cried with frustration about his dyslexia and the long time it took him to do his prep legibly. Yes I explained it did make schoolwork difficult, I couldn't make it go away and he was just going to have to get on with it. But I pointed out it also confers a gift for lateral thinking and problem solving which hopefully will be far more use to him in his adult life than neat handwriting or an A in Latin. So tell him he is special and remind him of all the interesting people who are dyslexic... Richard Branson, Jackie Stewart, Einstein, Tom Cruise, Walt Disney, Steve Redgrave.
As Blossom said, shout and bawl, nobody knows your boy the way you do. Go for it, UPL!

Cousin Mark said...

When considering how best to remonstrate with the aforementioned teacher be sure to remember that, out here, we have the Sierra Mountains and Death Valley. A person could disappear for ever(evil giggle). However, on reflection, perhaps a less drastic and more diplomatic approach might be the path of least resistance not to mention less likely to attract the attention of the authorities. Anyway, it would be prohibitively expensive to have her shipped across the pond. Good Luck but I'm sure that your diplomatic skills will win the day. Just don't remind her of Agincourt.