Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Seeking Counsel

I've been on the phone with the guidance counselors at both girls' schools today. Tootle is being teased by a few kids in her class about the small size of her left nostril, the result of being born with a cleft lip/palate. This one has taken me by surprise because the Hangzhou surgeon did such a good job that many adults don't even notice Tootle's deformity. I'm a bit biased, but she really is a beautiful girl. Last week one night she told me that several kids were asking her about her nostril and faint surgery scar and that she didn't like school and didn't want to go the next day. I asked her how she responded and she told me that she ignored them. I suggested that she could just matter of factly tell the curious kids that that's simply how she was born. That technique worked for the curious kids but it didn't work on a mean girl in the class who has continued to tease Tootle about it every day. While Tootle is going to school willingly, this is bothering her. An e-mail to the teacher went unanswered, so today I called the guidance counselor, who was very responsive. He pulled Tootle out of class to talk to her and she was unable to answer him except by nodding her head yes or no, so she clearly is upset. She asked him not to talk to the girl about this specific situation; I think Tootle fears retribution. But he does meet with this girl on a regular basis so he is going to discuss it with her in a general sense. I'm choosing to view this as an opportunity to arm Tootle with tools to deal with mean people, but I'd rather that she didn't have to deal with this at the age of six.

Doodle is having a rough time coping with the stress/pressure of school this year. It's a bit of a mystery because her report card showed no struggles, and her teachers report that she is doing very well, but I have to recognize the validity of her feelings and equip her with tools to cope with stress. It's a bit unnerving to try to calm down your 10 year old who is hyperventilating over a science test that you know she is prepared for. Doodle started seeing a licensed clinical social worker this week who specializes in anxiety disorders and often works with adopted children. The first session went well, and I'm hopeful that Doodle will be able to handle stress much better soon. I chose a LCSW who works with adopted kids in case Doodle has any underlying adoption concerns that she has been unable to talk to me about. Doodle's school guidance counselor is keeping Doodle's various teachers informed and is having occasional lunch sessions with her and a group of friends. I hope that we can nip this in the bud before middle school.


Beverly said...

the thing every mother dreads bullies at school. I hope the other girl leaves tootle alone. stress at school is no fun either. {{hugs}} to both your girls. It is so hard to be perfect all the time. I wouldn't repeat school if my life depended on it.

Joan said...

I'm sorry your girls are struggling but it sounds like you are taking positive steps forward. My thoughts are with you and your girls. I am shocked someone would be mean about Tootle. I guess I better get my blinders off so I am better prepared to help my girls as well.

Thank you for this post as it reminded me I need to be proactive and talk to the girls about how people talk to them.


elizabeth said...

I'm sorry to hear about the struggles your girls (and you) are going through. It's easy for us to forget how hard it is being a kid.

I have a Master's in Counseling Psychology and specialize in working with kids. While I would not consider myself a professional yet as I'm new to the field, for what it's worth I think you're handling this very well =)

I will send some good thoughts your way.

AZMom said...

Kids can be so dang mean. I am sorry Toodle is having to deal with that. Bug had to deal with bullies in 1st grade herself. It's no fun.

I hope Doodle is able to talk out her school fears. I am sure she will continue to do well. It's hard when the person putting pressure on them to do well is themselves. Bug is the same way.

Big hugs!