Monday, January 16, 2006

We can only guess what it means....

She keeps all her certificates and happy notes in a folder in her desk. Her brand new BRAT dolls sit, unplayed with but safe, in a clear container ontop of the coat closet. All the treats and sweets (well, most of them) she earns throughout the week are bagged and placed on a high shelf in the classroom ("Here Mrs. Ris, add this to my bag.") The ceramic pig she got from the reading teacher sits on a bookcase behind my workspace, and aside from an infrequent comment about it to her classmates--"See my cute piggy?"--, it remains partially hidden behind a basket of post-its and stickers.

"Make sure it's okay. Okay, Mrs. Ris?"

It's obvious my student can't bring herself to bring her goodies home.

LuLu describes her home as bug-infested, noisy, and chaotic (at least 2, maybe 3 younger cousins live there on and off, as well as other extended family and Mom's boyfriend). She says she hates where she lives ("It's dirty and small."), and wishes outloud for those of us at school to take her home and be her mother. She is beautifully attired each day, scrubbed clean, and one day this year, she tantrumed most of the day because she hated the slightly tight pants her mother made her wear. Even when we loosened the waist for her, she was beside herself in near grief that she was made to wear something that she hated.

In the fall of this year, I was celebrating her great math work.
"Here's your math test, LuLu! It's awesome. Take it home and show your mom!"

I found it a week later scrunched up in the bottom of her bookbag.

So I allow for LuLu's eccentric need to sort and store her valuables here. It's part of her survival skillset, no doubt. We continue to try to fill her up each day with love and appreciation, and encourage her to value learning and school success.

Sometimes it feels like we're on the right path. Mostly, though, it feels completely inadequate.

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