A few posts ago, I talked about how I’d decided not to write a letter to Rory’s new teacher singling her out in any way. I felt confident–and underneath it, I felt certain that said new teacher, and new assistant teacher, would already have a pretty full scoop. After all, our last year had been unusual. And it had ended with what I saw as a pretty negative assessment of Rory from one teacher in particular, who said she couldn’t understand Rory and felt like Rory resisted participating in class or with other kids. Surely, I thought, that teacher took it on herself to fill new teacher in.
Nope. Today new teacher took me aside. Why, she asked, does Rory not stay a full day like many four-year-olds and all the 5-year-olds? Well, because I don’t think she’s ready. But she’s hungry to learn the stuff we do in the afternoon, says the teacher. The letters, the reading basics. I don’t have much time to do that with her during the day, and she really wants it.
Well, I say, I don’t think her brother is ready, and we have issues. I can’t pick up one and not the other. The teacher looks disapproving. And last year, I say, no one thought she was ready for this. She’s come a long way in three months. We’re letting her grow at her own pace.
After all, I say, she’s only been here a little over a year…
Teacher did not know that.
Part of me is a little shocked–there are, after all, a total of six other teachers at the school who did–and part of me is pleased.
Without even trying, we gave Rory a chance to just be Rory. I am sure that teacher just assumed she was just another adopted Chinese baby girl, mostly raised by us, with whatever trauma or atttachment or yadda yadda well in the past. She was just another almost-five year old, with a teacher figuring she ought to be doing kindergarten stuff. I’m thrilled the teacher had that impression, and I don’t think what I said changed a thing–the teacher has an idea of her now, and it will stay.
And I feel like she passed. In both senses of the word. This teacher is a tough cookie, and instead of her thinking, oh, this child is behind, she’s incomprehensible, she’s not a full participant in the class, she’s lagging or taking up too much time or not understanding what’s going on–she thought Rory was ready for a full day there. And I feel a little like Rory fooled her–“passed,” as it were, as a normal kid. That doesn’t sound right–but I’m hyper aware of all of my kids’ issues, and I think the past year fell a little short of the “normal” front for any of them. Hell, for all of us. I guess I feel so far from “normal” myself that I get pretty excited when one of the kids manages to bring it off. If Rory manages to come across as normal, maybe she finally feels normal–settled, comfortable. Maybe we’ve revealed all the crap behind the curtains, and it’s all just–whatever it is–from here on in.
What does normal mean? I think, here, it just means, not needing any special treatment or concessions. I’ve had that feeling about them more and more lately–like maybe I’m the one who’s behind the times in worrying about how we’re adjusted or coming along. THere are these perpetual questions of adoption” “Do you love her yet?” (yes) “Do you love her the same as your other kids?” (I’d say love doesn’t lend itself to “same”-ness) “Is it adoption or is it just an ordinary phase” and some variation on “Are we there yet?”
Are we there yet? Are we adjusted, are we attached, are we all done with the beginning and on to the whatever comes next? Probably not. But hey, at least in one context, apparently we look like we are. I will so take that.