Soleil doesn't turn her schoolwork in on time. I know this. I've asked her in every way I can imagine, "why do you think this is a struggle for you and how do you think we could work together to find a way to change this?". But of course I already know the answer, at least to the first part of the question...she has very little to no short term/working memory and is highly distractable which makes completing things very challenging.
Completing schoolwork that she finds "not interesting, boring, or confusing"? Well, that's nearly impossible.
Tonight I am meeting with her third grade teacher for her first of two conferences this year. Soleil has already prepared me that there are four books of schoolwork that the teacher will be showing to parents and her work is only in one. When I asked her why her work isn't in all of the books, she told me that she ran out of time.
In her four years of public school, I have learned that there is a pattern to these conferences...during the first one (in the fall) her teacher, with a positive upbeat tone, will bring up things that are a "challenge" for Soleil and a few things that Soleil needs to work on. The teacher will try very hard to balance all of the "challenges" with positives. The teacher will stress that Soleil is a very bright girl that is well liked by her peers but she talks too often to them at inappropriate times. The teacher will also describe times and situations when Soleil doesn't participate in activities or does something inappropriate in order to avoid work that she isn't interested in doing. The teacher will report that the lunchroom workers are concerned because Soleil doesn't eat at lunch. The teacher will ask if there is a way we could all work together to help Soleil manage her personal belongings. She will then probably show me Soleil's desk which won't close properly because it is a stuffed, disorganized mess.
These are all things that I know. Things that I expect. Things that I see every single day at home. These are the challenges that my daughter (and honestly, my husband) will struggle with forever.
I spend most of the day before conferences preparing myself for the discussions to come. Thinking about how I'm going answer questions and how I'll react to issues brought up...because I haven't always done the best job, and I've made plenty of mistakes. More than once I have made excuses or even apologized to the teacher during conferences. Once I even lowered myself to rolling my eyes and comisserating about how difficult my daughter can be. Those are conversations that I wish I could redo. I became reactionary when I wish I would have been secure and steadfast. When you have a child that has extra needs...or isn't like everyone else...or has raging ADHD...whatever you want to call it that day...when you have a child like that, it's easy to complain. It's easy to get swept up in the moment and become catty about all of the headaches. It's easy to throw your child under the bus.
But that's not the mom that I want to be. And as my dear friend has always told me, "doing with right thing doesn't always mean doing the easiest thing". So I'm going to arm myself with all of my daughter's strengths, all of her accomplishments and positive gains, and be the advocate that she needs me to be. I'm determined to find a way to be empathetic to the teacher while maintaining my stance firmly in my daughter's corner. Because what really matters most in the big picture?...in this whole life of ours?...one of the things that I have decided matters to me is that my children know, without a doubt, that I have their backs...that I will always fight for them, even when it would be easier not to.