When your kids are not mainstream kids …

I had a conversation with my friend Karen that reminded me of an issue I have with regards to Georgia and her fitting in to a main stream school situation.

Georgia is a “creative” children – not in the way that she does glorious pieces of art, but just that her mind does not function along the set paths – she struggles to follow “main stream” rules and she likes to talk about Smurfs as if they REALLY do exist.

Connor is a main stream child.  He likes rules.  He likes set parameters.  He likes you to give him clear boundaries and off he will go.  He is creative and a content soul, but he like his world to be presented to him clearly – and then he is happy to conform – thrilled in actual fact.

Georgia likes to run around with a bucket on her head!

Georgia is not naughty or disobedient, though she often makes me want to hit my head against a brick wall – repeatedly – because she does not “listen” to me.

She just functions in her own little world.

She cannot be “punished” in the established manner.  If you gave her a hiding, she would be traumatized, but would be doing the thing you just told her not to do in three minutes time with no clue as to why you appear somewhat exasperated!

You can give her time out, but she will make up a little game in her head, and you will come back in the room, she may still be on the chair, but she is far away as the lead character in her little fairy story she has made up.

Georgia is not really aware of what you are doing, as it has very little to do with what is going on in her world.  The result is that you being happy/sad/annoyed, has little or no effect on her.  Whether I speak to her nicely or I scream the instruction, it has absolutely no effect on whether she is going to follow the instruction and the speed at which she reacts, or does not.

You can take tv/dessert/nintendo or what ever away from her – she really does not mind.

At the moment she has three big loves in her life.

1.  Her doll named Chocolate.  Who is not a doll, but her daughter.  I need to be on the look out for a plastic dark chocolate coloured boy who may be the father,

2.  Her Smurfs.  She is obsessed with her smurfs and plays hugely involved games with the figurines for hours.

3  Her bedroom door has to be closed – she cannot function if her door is not closed, whether she is in the room or not, if her door is opened and she is in the kitchen and hears her door opening, she goes totally “ape sh@t” – to put not too blunt a term on it.

This year I have her in a government/main stream school.  I wanted to see “how it goes” as I was not convinced it was actually a feasible option for her.

So far she appears to be doing well, and really enjoying her class.

I got a call earlier today from her teacher to say that Georgia is doing really well, adjusted and paying attention in class ..  this was of course after I had a nervous breakdown when my caller ID’d the number …. teachers and schools should legally be compelled to start all conversations with parents as: “Your child is fine, no one is bleeding, no one is dead … your child is fine …. can I carry on or do you need to take a few deep breaths into a brown paper bag?”

I am really thrilled she is doing well – I will confess that I anticipated the worst.  She loves her teacher.  Loves her class. Loves her aftercare.   Really LOVES her day at school.

I can’t tell you the weight that lifted from me when I did some maths in the car with Georgia and she could do the maths (6 + 2 stuff, not how many oranges does the bus driver need if he drives from Transkei to Cape Town on 26 December?).

I know my child is a bit different, and at the same time I am glad I did not need to implement “extreme” measures and she seems to be adapting well (for now)

Maybe when her teacher asks all the children to make clay snakes, and Georgia decides that she does not want to make a clay snake, and will instead make a clay butterfly – and point back refuses to make a clay snake, then maybe we can have another discussion.

I do think though that the majority of people my age come from a school system where we all “made the clay snake when instructed” and did not question the motives of the teacher or the system.

We did we were instructed en-masse and then just hoped we would pass and not get detention.

I do feel teachers and doctors are quick to suggest Ritalin as a way to “control individuals or have them conform.”

I am not really for or against Ritalin (actually I am more against….)  I have not read enough on the subject to have an informed opinion.  My opinion is shaped by the “hysterical” media reports I have read, so that is hardly a balanced opinion – but medicating a child to make it easier for the teacher to control the group does have some inherent problems.

I am not sure of how the future will be for Georgia.  I am not sure if it will include clay snakes, butterflies and smurfs, but I do want her to stay as “wacky and bizarre” as she is … I would also like her to listen to me, but I am sensing there may be easier things to wish for.

If it means finding a school or a school system that caters for her “specialness” at a later stage, well then I will cross that bridge when I get there.

I would like my daughter to get the best out of her schooling, but I do not want her schooling to break her to mould and shape her.  I’d like my daughter to be left in tact to dream about fairies and smurfs, and magic… sans-medication!