Last year my daughter was wait-listed for a magnet school and started Kindergarten at our neighborhood school. At the end of October a spot opened up at the magnet school and we transferred her.
My husband and I knew that the transfer was going to be a little bumpy, but we knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that it was the right move. Furthermore, our daughter has always been a very laid back, adaptable kid. Her social skills even earned her the nickname, ”Mayor”.
The transition did not go as smoothly as we had hoped. Many days I left the carpool line in tears because Conley told me how much she missed her old school, how she didn't fit in there. I started questioning our decision. I called my husband, my best friends, my sisters-in-law for reassurance. They were all resolute that she was Jedi mind tricking me.
And, she performed her mind trick absolutely brilliant - until report cards came home. December 2, 2014 is the day that will live in infamy around here. On this day our bright, clever, sweet girl brought home a report card that stated that she was BELOW grade level in 98% of the categories. I am not trying to convince anyone that she could or can name all the world capitals, speak fluent Mandarin or play complicated sonatas by ear. However, I will assure you that she could identify circles, squares and triangles, knew her ABCs and could recap what a basic story is about.
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I was reeling. I emailed her teacher. The email, in short, said, We need to talk. Right. Now.
We scheduled a meeting for the next day. I walked into the classroom and Conley was quietly coloring at her desk, her teacher was at her desk finishing up some end of the day paperwork. Conley and I started having a conversation. Nothing of importance. Just your basic mother/daughter back and forth conversation.
When her teacher was ready, Conley went and played on the other side of the room. The teacher then told me that she had never heard Conley talk like that. Like what, I asked? Well, I've never heard her have a conversation or even speak in complete sentences. Say what?
I had to sit on my hands to not involuntarily strangle my child. Her teacher then called my daughter over. However, the kid that showed up was one I had never seen before. She started walking like a baby - up on her tiptoes, flailing about like a drunken giraffe. Then she opened her mouth and I faded to black.
She started talking in "baby talk", things like "me not know", "me wuv ewe". She wouldn’t call her teacher by name, just "teacher". My ears were so red that they were hot to the touch and I looked at my daughter, back to her teacher, back to my daughter and they were both very nonchalant, like, Yep, this is how stuff goes down between us.
I told my daughter that she needed to show her teacher what a big, smart girl she was and that meant talking in her strong, confident voice. What I silently implied to her, the love of my life, was that it was about to get very, very real up in there and that if she did not want to be condemned to a life of hard labor to please get her self together.
Seeing that I'm not writing this from jail, you can assume that she did. Her teacher said that in 30 years of teaching she had never been so duped and that had she been in a dark room that she would have never identified that voice as Conley's.
We agreed that she would now have different expectations out of our little Oscar winner and that she would send a note home if she ever slipped back into Baby C. As Conley and I crossed the parking lot that evening, she started pleading her case. She even asked if I thought if maybe we could keep this between us as there was really no reason to upset dad.
When we got in the car I went on one of my finest Julia Sugarbaker'esque tirades and by the end of it I had threatened to throw out every toy she owned and canceling Christmas.
Conley turned it around and in beautiful fashion and even earned Student of the Month last year. She is excited for school to start but I still worry that we are raising an evil genius.