Friday, September 7, 2012
Things are continuing to go very well for my little family. My daughters are starting to develop a good relationship between themselves. Enough that there are now little spats that bring misunderstandings and tears, on occasion. We've had two moments where I was able to show the girls how we resolve conflict in our family, which is by taking responsibility, without blame, with truth, and with respect, love and forgiveness. This is a good stretch for Jie Jie since she's always been the oldest child wherever she's been. She is learning that the techniques for getting along with little kids don't work with big ones, meaning, she can't boss her big sister. Sissy is learning that she can't believe everything Jie Jie tells her. Not lies, but Jie Jie has told Sissy to do a few things that were not appropriate, like tonight when she told Sissy to administer Jie Jie her medicine. We had a big talk about that one, believe me! Jie Jie is also too quick to help and not allow Sissy time to think and figure things out for herself. She does this in kindness, believing she is being helpful, but it can be annoying for Sissy. I love watching Jie Jie stretch just a bit past her comfort zone and she learns to get along with an older child and I love watching Sissy start to develop the desire to learn and figure things out for herself.
We have a packed weekend with some CPR training for me and then a wedding reception. The girls are invited to both. Tomorrow is the second half of the training that is required for daycare providers every two years. Two weeks ago, the girls came for the first half and I brough the portable DVD player for them and they behaved very well.
Sissy has a good conscience. She wants to be a good daughter and sister and person and tries hard to put into practice all that she is learning with sincerity. She is smart. I am so relieved and grateful. Her English is coming along faster than I can keep up with. Today she said, "Ta brush teeth, wo exercise." Meaning, "While she (Jie Jie) was brushing her teeth this morning, I did my exercises." Each girl has morning physical exercises/physical therapy that they must do and Sissy had a hard time with this at first.
The first bits of her life story are coming out. This first part I can share with you without violating her privacy because it's a common occurance in orphanages: Bullying. Sissy was being bullied by the 16 year-olds. It sounds like the reason is that they considered her a "goody two-shoes."
There are some huge gaps in Sissy's knowledge of Chinese, whether it's deliberate upbringing or cultural, I don't know. For example, she doesn't know the meaning of the words: best, proud, privacy (for which there isn't a translation).
We are in a great routine and we are all thriving. Sissy feels loved and secure, allowing herself challenges, like figuring out how the vacume handle reattaches. This might sound simple, but she'd not try to figure things out before. Her thirst for knowledge is starting to develop and it's so fun to watch. Her English is developing faster than I could have ever hoped for. She has an excellent ear for sounds and a terrific memory.
I've given up on the school district. I was trying to find out if there was some kind of help they can offer me at home or through an online-homeschool program, but, after three weeks and being passed to over 7 people, I'm giving up. Basically this is what would happen if I signed her up with the district: She'd be tested and end up in the English Learner 1 program. She'd be put into 8th grade (when she's only just finished 5th in China) and mainstreamed for all but one class per day. That one class would be for the English Learner program. Instead of letting her build a solid academic base, she is expected to jump right in a pick up the stuff the regular kids are doing and learning. In the mainstreamed classes, she might occassionally have a translator or some kind of helper, but not very often or for very long. Can you imagine her sitting in a classroom for five hours a day not understanding a sincle thing because she has no reference point of comparison? I showed her a level 1 English Learner workbook and she could identify only about 20% of the pictures. She didn't know what a saw, hatchet or igloo was, yet the first exercise on the first page was to name these objects. If she can't do it in Chinese, she certainly can't do it in English! I'm sure not going to let her waste 100 hours of her life per month sitting clueless in a classroom of immodestly dressed teens using fowl language and talking pop culture. I found out that she'd go to the lesser junior high and high school because of her English Learner status. Oh, and then, after a few years of going through every program, if she's still not up to grade level, something else would have to be tried, but by then, she'd age out of the public school system and, at best, end up with a GED, which isn't the same as a diploma these days.
Jie Jie would be put into third grade. Never mind that she's just completed her first year of school, is the size of a five year old, is still learning English and has extensive physical special needs. Oh, but they'd hire an LVN to do what's necessary for her. Uh, no thank you, it's hard enough sometimes for me to take care of her, I can't imagine a stranger, who would most likely have never seen a kid like her before, trying to take care of her. And, what happens if that person is sick? Will I be told or will a stranger, untrained, have a go at her?
Am I over-protective, or smart? I am erring on the side of not exposing my children to the very great possibility of extreme trauma, both physically and emotionally. Remember, both of my girls sleep all night, have no food issues, are developing right along normal lines for their histories, have no attachment issues - so far, and are bright, happy children. I've not even had Sissy for two months yet. She's still so new. After what we went through in China, who would have ever believed she could be so wonderful so fast, so normal, happy, and loving. If it wasn't for the regular teen stuff and grieving, I'd be worried, but we have just the right balance of bad to go with our good, which I call normal.