Apr 11, 2011

No bandaid for this

Let me introduce you to Zoe.  She is almost 6, was born in China and adopted at age 2.  While in China, she was bounced several times (7) from placement to placement.  When we met her, she immediately attached (almost tooo fast it seemed).  She was loved.  But she was also hurt a lot.  (Physically and emotionally.) 

Part of me wants to tell the whole story.  Part of me wants to protect her.  So this blog post might be missing some details. 

Zoe was born with a cleft lip and palate.  Both were repaired.  She also has an associated syndrome (Hemifacial Microsomia).  This affects the way she hears, talks, swallows, looks, etc. 

This year in school (Kindergarten), the kids have made her aware of how "different" she looks.  She has come home many times crying and saying things about her face.  Like "I hate my lips" and many other things. 

This makes Mama bear come out.  I know the other kids have no clue how it hurt her.  They weren't meaning to be cruel but it still hurts just as much.

Meanwhile, she is having troubles with the teacher understanding her.  Several times she has come home from school with a "yellow" (a warning of bad behavior).  When I ask Zoe what happened, the story sounds plausible (like something that would happen at home).  When the teacher says what happened, there is something missing in the story.  My guess is that she thinks of Zoe as a "bad kid".  Which she is not. 

Kid?  Yes. 
Bad kid?  No. 

She is a tomboy.  She has 3 older, very rough brothers and she holds her own with them.  She excels in sports and rough things. 

Meanwhile, she won't speak up for herself.  Like when a girl went and told the teacher, "Zoe pulled my hair."  Yes, that's true.  The rest of the story?  They were playing tag and while running, it was her hair that she caught.  Yes, Zoe should have been in trouble for being rough, not careful.  But not labeled.  Or the day the teacher said, "Zoe kicked a kid."  Uh what?  There HAS to be more.  She's NEVER kicked someone.  Zoe's version?  They were playing leap frog.  Zoe tried to leap and missed.  The kid only said, "Zoe kicked me."  And of course Zoe wasn't asked about what happened.  Just labeled as a bad kid. 

These (and many others) incidents happened near the beginning of the school year.  Zoe has still yet to speak up for herself. 

The other day, the teacher called and all but accused us of something subversive going on in our home.  Accused us of a few things.  All I know is that she is only like this in HER class.  Zoe was great in preschool.  Wonderful in 2 different VPKs.  Is amazing in Speech Therapy.  It's only in HER classroom where these things happen. 

Today I got the message for the date and time of the meeting.  So I started asking Zoe what is going on at school so I can tell the teacher what Zoe would like said. 

So we sat for hours and talked.  We both bawled almost the whole time.  She is soooo frustrated.  She is misunderstood.  She has these patterns that make her INTENSE and it makes the kids back off.  And it starts this vicious cycle.  She wants friends and she runs them away. 

Her abandonment issues are so deep and so profound. 

At home she feels accepted and understood.  And up until this teacher, she felt accepted and understood by her teachers.  She had friends.  The kids LOVED Zoe. 

So I have no clue what went wrong this year. 

All I know is that my baby is hurting.  And I have no bandaid for this one. 


  1. Have you considered homeschooling? If you would like to talk about it you can email me.

  2. Talk to the principal/counselor...Say this is
    not acceptable after all this little girl has
    gone through. If your school is big enough, have
    her moved into a "better" teachers room and make
    sure she gets a good one for next year. My family
    are teachers and they encourage going to bat for
    your child. Homeschooling with outside activities
    may be a good idea...I am concerned about her worrying about her face/self image. That needs work. Good luck....

  3. I immediately thought of homeschooling too. We homeschooled our 3 youngest (all with disabilities) and it was the best thing we could have done for them. You might not have to homeschool for all her school years, just enough to get her over the struggle she is having right now. Hugs

  4. I'm so sorry Zoe has had a rough year. You know how I feel about homeschooling too. But I'd be glad to talk to you more specifically. Prayers for your family.

  5. I have lost track of how many times this sort of thing has happened to us. I know exactly how you feel.

  6. Praying that ALL goes well!!!!!! Hoping that the teacher changes her tune and that things turn completely around for Zoe!

  7. Im sorry she is going through this. Kids can be so mean and mean kids often grow up to be mean adults, like that teacher. I have no advice to offer but I will send my prayers and hugs for the situation. You are her mom and know what best to do for her.

    Be blessed