Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Cool-Down Table

While at the school last week for O’s Valentine’s day party, I had a few minutes to talk to her teacher, Mrs. A.

I love this woman. She’s taken a personal interest in my girl, a child who can be so withdrawn that it’s virtually impossible to know what she’s thinking, what makes her tick, what she knows. Mrs. A has taken the time to get to know Olivia, to learn what makes her tick and has come to care for her in a way I only hoped for when O started school four years ago.

Mrs. A even stopped in to the party (which was in the typical first grade classroom) just to check on Olivia.

It was at the very end of the day that Mrs. A and I had time to actually talk.

“She’s starting to get defiant,” Mrs. A confided to me as Olivia was gathered her folders and put them into her backpack.

I raised my eyebrows and replied, “She’s arguing all the time at home these days.”

Mrs. A nodded, “She works with a variety of helpers these days and will argue if one doesn’t do something exactly the way another helper did the day before. Or, if someone gives her direction, Olivia will point at the instructions written on the paper and say, ‘That’s not what it says.’”

We shared a smile at this because that is so typically Olivia. She’s all about routine and being very exact. Ahh, the joy of OCD.

Mrs. A went on, “This is all actually very developmentally good, just frustrating in the day to day work around here. We want her to keep growing but we also need to maintain boundaries. She’s had to sit at the Cool-Down table a few times when she gets overly argumentive.”

I gave a look of trepidation and Mrs. A assured me, “She never needs to sit there for long before she’s cooperative again. I’m actually glad to see her coming out of her shell and acting out a little bit. She’s really come a long way talking to both the adults in the classroom and her peers. I think this is an excellent setting for her to learn.”

So yeah, good things but also some defiance. The defiance is something we’ve been dealing with at home for some time. But it’s a sign that Olivia is becoming more sure of her own voice, her own opinions as being as valid as those around her.

I’m proud of her even as I get frustrated when I’m dealing with the arguing.

That evening I was telling Tom about my conversation with Mrs. A and Olivia was standing there listening. When I mentioned that O has had to sit at the time out table a few times, Olivia piped up, “It’s not the time out table, it’s the cool down table.”

Yeah, those are the moments we’re talking about, Miss Sass!

I thanked her for the correction and asked her if we needed to create a cool down table for home.

Her eyes got big and she backed away with a smile. “No. No we do not need a cool down table here.”

We’ll see about that.

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