First Day of School Along With A Rant on (In)Gratitude.

Thank you to everyone who sent our little Giggles best wishes on her first day of school.  She did great!!  Because of her vocabulary, or lack thereof, and her inability to rhyme she tested into “beginning” ELL.  Whatever, I’m not all that concerned with labels, and it gets her one on one in the classroom help.  She is at grade level (or near) for reading.  Math is a little harder.  She is WONDERFUL with math facts, but if you ask her how she got the answer she just stares at you.  That’s because she doesn’t know how to calculate the answer, she has just memorized it.  So, we’ll have to undo that.  She’s doing great with our at-home lessons on phonetic awareness.  And, each day I’ve been going into school to pull her out during reading time to work with her.  Otherwise, they just let her sit and “listen” to books on tape.  I understand they think that will improve her language acquisition, but I would rather she actually had practice reading.  So, I’m in there every single day with her.  Here’s where the rant on gratitude begins.

She’s an ungrateful pain in my you-know-what.  I’m not saying she should be grateful that I go to school every day to read with her.  Again, whatever, educating her is my job.  It is NOT my job, however, to make sure she has beautiful clothes or fashionable hair.  Kiss it.  You can do your own hair and wear whatever you like.  We’ve got a HUGE case of the “gimmes” here.  “Gimme that!”.  “I need new jeans.  I don’t like these”.  Are you KIDDING ME?!?  Do you remember where you lived three weeks ago?  UGH!!!!!

Ask me where her pics are from the first day of school.  I’ll show you.  Are you ready?  Here we go.

Yes, that’s it.  She wouldn’t even look at the camera or acknowledge me.  I figured she was embarrassed to be the only one having a “first day”.  Even though we spent nearly 8 hours doing her hair and she had a brand new outfit, I didn’t flinch when she totally ignored my goodbye and walked away like she didn’t know me.  Ahhh, to be a mom, it truly is the most thankless job in the world.  
Fast forward to three days later.  Thursdays are my days to go to school, volunteer in the KG room (with M-M) and then eat lunch with all the kids.  I told her I would come and eat lunch with her.  She shrugged.  Alright then.  See you at 11:30am.  So, I did my volunteering, I read with Giggles, even though she never looked at me and wouldn’t answer my questions about her day.  Then, I went to lunch. KG and 1st graders eat together first.  Here is ResponsiBoy and M-M, proud and happy to eat with mom.
I know they have been in my home for a lot longer.  But, when I went to eat lunch with Giggles, she completely ignored me.  I had brought her a Happy Meal.  When I gave it to her, she snatched it and then practically threw the Chicken Nuggets back at me.  So you don’t like these?  She just made a foul face and shook her head.  I had a lovely chat with the other girls in her class.  They like to read Ivy and Bean  and play tag at recess.  Giggles apparently likes to play mute, because that’s what she did the entire lunch.  Then when the bell rang, she ran away.  I said “Bye. See you later!” to her back as she headed outside.  She only came back in to tell me that I didn’t send her to school with “things for her hands”.  I can only assume she meant mittens.  So, I did the mature thing and shrugged and walked away.  She stared at my back, mouth agape, as I walked out of the lunch room and out of the school.  
I sent FPD to pick her up.  I figured it was better for someone less emotional to talk to her about how other people have feelings too.  She didn’t care.  Again, I did the mature thing and didn’t speak to her all evening.  She was mature in return and didn’t speak to me.  I went to work, she cried a little.  FPD told her to find me when I came home and tell me how she felt.  I went in to kiss her goodnight, she rolled over in bed and acted like I had a communicable illness.  She woke up this morning and asked FPD when I would do her hair.  He told her that I was taking a shower.  She was appalled.  She asked who would help her choose “good American clothes” and “help her with her hair”.  She asked him to do it.  He told her he had no idea how and that she was better off on her own.  She pouted.  He told her to go ask me for help.  She just shrugged.  She went to school with hideous hair and unmatched clothes.  And, because I’m very mature, I hope people laugh at her.  
Am I a terrible person?  And, how hard do I push this?  I can’t live with a hideous monster who thinks she runs the place with her mood swings and demands.  I won’t tolerate disrespect.  I know she has only been home three weeks, but when do we stop excusing this as “new child” behavior and start making her tow the line.  ShyGuy has committed many a violation of the rules and he will cry on his bed during his time out and then come back upstairs, look the person in the eye and tell them sorry.  She absolutely WILL NOT apologize.  The words must taste like vinegar coming out of her mouth, because she would rather just not speak.  And, I know she just views me as someone she can get things from.  Nice hair, new clothes, a manicure.  Then, she’s done with me.  When do I stop doing those things?  When do I tell her that’s not the way it works, that in this world you only get these kinds of luxuries with kindness and respect, that it isn’t your God given right to have beautiful hair and a manicure.  Is it too soon?  
who thinks the honeymoon is over.  

6 thoughts on “First Day of School Along With A Rant on (In)Gratitude.

  1. Girlfriend,when you find out the answer will you please share it with me??? I am in the same boat.Literally. Lack of gratitude and NO lack of gimmes abound in my house. I don’t raise children to be like that….at least I didn’t THINK I did. HANG IN THERE FPM…..I’m hanging there with you on a thread.

  2. We SO need to talk because somehow we have adopted twin daughters from Ghana! Let me tell you, it gets better and worse and I am totally convinced that Efia hates me now. She sure acts like it most of the time. But then she has moments where I can see her sweetness and I just want to hold onto that to get me through the other 90% of the day. I don’t think it is ever too soon to teach a child respect and gratitude. I had this naive thought that Efia would just be overjoyed when she came to America, to have shoes and clean underwear and more than one outfit. To have pretty hair and a pretty room, and a family who all love her to bits. And she is not, and I was shocked! Honestly, I would expect that type of behavior from my other daughter. The baby of the family, the (previously) only girl, totally indulged and spoiled. She doesn’t do it! My boys don’t have the Gimmes (most of the time) so where do our Ghanaian kids learn it? Is there some sort of subliminal meesaging in the airplane movies between Accra and the US? My reactions to her disdain for my teaching her anything have been stellar. I sure am a shining example of how to react to these behaviors. :sarcasm: I have stopped for a while because I cannot have every.second.of our interactions being contention, and that is what happens when I try to help her learn. That is what happens when I help her do anything, or suggest she wear a certain outfit, or ask her to contribute to the household in any way besides adding drama.We’re in the same rocking boat together in the middle of the storm. I hope our lifejackets hold up! I’ll add you to my own prayers for patience and the right words and the right actions. Some days I’m praying all day long for these things.

  3. I HATE to bring this up, and I pray, pray, PRAY this is not the case, but have you looked much into Reactive Attachment Disorder? I have a sister with RAD and the way Giggles acts is JUST like my sister. It may NOT be that, and I HOPE it isn’t, but you may want to read up on it and see if it is. If so, there IS help, but it is best if it is EARLY intervention. Doctors, at least “back then”, didn’t know much about RAD, and so she was misdiagnosed her entire life until my parents figured it out on their own and talked to a specialist who was able to properly diagnose her, so you MAY want to do some research on your own and then take her to a specialist. I would be HAPPY to talk to you more about RAD if you want to learn more. I will be praying for you, FPM, and for the Hullingers and the Hansen’s, too! Let me know if I can do anything for any of you!

  4. Oh my. Sounds like my 23 year old! I keep thinking that he will get over it when he grows up. Nothing seems good enough or enough, hard to please. Efia in the middle of confusion kinda had the princess attitude (sorry, made me laugh)but I’m surprised by Giggly, didn’t see it coming. Don’t take it personal, its definitely all about what she needs to learn. How to teach her? Not sure…

  5. ***HUG***It sounds a little like what my exchange students go through – when the honeymoon is over, they enter the stage I like to call “America is Stupid.” The water balloon of their expectations crashes up against the brick wall of reality and splatters all over the place. Because they are struggling with homesickness and the unfamiliarity with how life works in the new environment, they seek comfort. For some of my kids, that’s been food (one girl gained 15 lbs. in 10 weeks, mostly from M&Ms and doughnuts!). For others, it’s spending too much time on the phone / computer with friends and family back home. It sounds like she is seeking material comfort – “this is NOT what I was expecting, so shower me with the things I didn’t have before so that at least I can point to that and say ‘Now I have this.'” Doesn’t make it liveable, but I get it.Another thing my students struggle with is the expectation that when they get here, they are going to be “SPECIAL!” and that everyone will fawn over them because they’re so unique, so exotic, so fascinating. Guess what? Most of the kids don’t even realize you’re from somewhere else (America has ALL sorts of people), and if they do realize, they don’t know enough about the rest of the world to care. I imagine she thought that too – that she was going to be special, that it was going to be her own ongoing party of recognition and admiration. Mmmmmnotsomuch. That’s life. It takes a long time for some of my students to realize that if they want those good connections – with friends, with host families, whoever – they have to be responsible for them, taking the initiative to reach out and build them. I know she’s not old enough to grasp that at this point, but it’ll come.I don’t think it’s too soon at all to be firm about what your love includes (forgiveness, patience – most of the time ;), enough food and love and clothing and needs and a comfortable set of wants) and what your love does NOT include (fulfilling every wish, being at her beck and call for every hygiene and grooming desire, begging her forgiveness for every food you serve her that she doesn’t like). (The line I used with Marli a few weeks ago when she started pushing back on the “no sleepovers” rule was something like, “Not only is pushing me on this, something we have discussed and agreed to long ago and many times since, not going to get you a ‘yes’ answer, but also it will make me much less inclined to say ‘yes’ to the next activity you ask to attend that involves a sleepover and picking you up at the end of the evening.” I know that’s far wordier than she will get, but I don’t think it would be detrimental to convey something along those lines.And like you said, she responds far more to FPD (in our house Andrew responds much more to me) – he may just have to be the lawgiver more often.Just my thoughts. And a big *HUG*. And mental wishes of pineapple flambe for you. (What IS your favorite food, anyway?)–Shannon 🙂

  6. I would recommend Katharine Leslie’s book, Coming to Grips with Attachment: The Guidebook for Developing Mutual Well-Being in Parent-Child Relationships. You have to order it through her website: . I’m reading it now and finding it helpful. I have 6 kids, 5 from Haiti, 2 with RAD/PTSD/alphabet soup. Giggles doesn’t necessarily have RAD, but attachment can be difficult for older children, and they often need “coaching” to learn reciprocity. I think you’ll find this book a big help.

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