Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Three Rs, With Some Misery Thrown In For Good Measure

We had a couple weeks of tough behavior coming from Jackson, which after a lot of prodding came out as frustrations and difficulties he'd been having with school.  The school...oh, this school.  My nephew has learned to politely say that certain foods are not his favorite when he's faced with something he intensely dislikes, so I've taken a lesson from him and I'll just say that this school is not my favorite.  I don't want to generalize about an entire country--it's hard to say which frustrations simply stem from differences in educational philosophy that I would find at any school here, or which ones are related to this school in particular...either way, it has been a challenging experience to find a well of patience deep enough to get through the school year.
Jackson's well had run dry--he began saying he hated school, that he wished school was never invented, which was so hard for me to hear.  Back home (and this is no exaggeration), he would excitedly say as I drove him to school in the morning, "I wonder what we're going to learn today!".  It was hard for him to feel as well, and it was coming out in agitated, unacceptable behavior around the house and towards us.  One night, he finally confided in me that a couple of weeks earlier, he had been repeatedly taunted by older students to throw a juice box at them--and he did--and the principal at school happened to be walking by and told him he was being an idiot with the juice box.

An idiot?

Throwing a juice box at someone is admittedly not the best choice, but I would expect more out of someone in a position of authority than to demean a child by using such an insult.  Again, I'd like to not chalk this up to being reflective of Australian culture as a whole, but when I told another Australian about this incident, he said that when he was a kid, his teacher wrote on the board "Idiot 1", "Idiot 2", and "Idiot 3", and would have children stand under those labels if they were misbehaving.

Simply opening up about his feelings has helped Jackson tremendously--he also took the initiative to speak to his teacher about his feelings towards the principal.  This all coincided with being able to choose his own project for this school term; I thought this was a great opportunity for him to get engaged with something he was interested in.  The boys spend many a pre-bedtime evening sitting in a dark room listening to Sam read the Lord of the Rings books by headlamp, so he decided to make Bilbo Baggins' hut.  Jackson's interest waxed and waned throughout the development and creation of the project, but he had an undeniably proud grin on his face as we carried the hut in all its paper mache glory into his classroom.  

Since then, his attitude has changed; he is striving to be Student of the Week and is making a concerted effort to be helpful in the classroom.  He and Alex both will still freely express frustration and dislike for their school, but it doesn't seem to be a dark cloud hanging over every moment like it was for a while there.

Just this morning as we walked to school, Jackson said, "I'm just taking it week by week, Mom.  That's the only way I'm going to get through this school year."  Wise words, kiddo.


  1. Oh wow. WOW. Poor kid. The thought of him having to take it a week at a time just breaks my heart.

    As an aussie, if someone called my kid an idiot, I'd be ropeable. If a PRINCIPAL did it? We'd be having words. This isn't a cultural thing, feel free to get mad...

  2. Thanks for that comment from an Aussie perspective, AH...his teacher was supportive and freely admitted she didn't think it was right for the principal to call him an idiot.
    I'm happy to say that we're all enjoying ourselves here on the whole, but the school situation certainly puts a damper on things. At the very least, it'll build character, right? Either that or they'll have more material to speak with their future therapist about...sigh. I hope this doesn't ruin them.

  3. Dear Annie,
    They could not possibly be ruined with you and Sam as incredible guides to all the adventures and opportunities they have been able to experience. School is a minor part of this whole and they are wonderful boys with great resilience. But I know you'll all be happy to be back in the States eventually and we'll be glad to see you again! Lots of love to all of you, Kacy

  4. Glad to hear Jackson is trying to overcome. Would love to see pictures of his hut!