Ladybug began this school year in school--a special preschool for victims of abuse and trauma. She had a terrific teacher and a wonderful team of specialists that truly gave her the best of themselves. However, Ladybug doesn't handle transitions well, and it quickly became apparent that getting on the bus to go to school, getting off the bus at school, getting on the bus to ride home, and getting off the bus at home were taking their toll. Her total time on the bus each day was totaling well over 2 hours.
And the rest of the family was spending time together every day while she was away.
We petitioned to keep her at home.
Our petition was granted. Ladybug came home full time in November 2015.
The transition was rocky . . . as was expected.
Over time, though, we've watched Ladybug just blossom, and I've not regretted the decision to bring her home even once.
Ladybug is both fierce and fragile.
She's strongly competitive and driven to succeed. Mister Man's ease at learning makes her crazy, but it also drives her to work hard. Even when her brain was not ready to connect sounds into words, she was daily memorizing the shapes of words and working to read a Dick and Jane reader. Along the way, her ability to work with phonics clicked, and she's now successfully reading CVC words in addition to the two dozen or so sight words she's mastered. She's doing math lessons with Belle, and she really likes completing the workbook pages. Being competent at schoolwork is a major component of her feeling that she has power.
She's been powerless for too long.
She is easily set back emotionally. For every 3 steps forward, she takes 2 steps back, and it is hard work to move forward again. Tantrums, stealing, lying, breaking other people's possessions are part of almost every day with her. Her emotional triggers are many and subtle. We're working hard to give her a safe place without triggers so that she has time and space to heal before facing challenges, but I'm starting to believe that might not be possible--she may just have to heal the best she can while we do the best we can to keep her safe enough.
She is utterly dependent on others to think of what to do. She wants to be directed in all things (very much like children are directed all day in school). My main goal for her this year was for her to learn how to direct her own activities--even for an hour or so. She's come a long way in that she can now ask, "May I play ____________ ?" if she's emotionally sound enough to think clearly, and sometimes she even gets toys out on her own and invites others to play with her.
She strongly dislikes nature walks and days spent freely out of doors. The joy the boys (and I) feel at the lake is countered by how difficult those same days are for her. She's learning to cope, though, and I'm seeing growth in her as I insist that nature and freedom to explore be a part of her world. On nature walks I hold her hand and engage her in conversation to help her keep from coming unglued. At the lake I've introduced her to being buried in the sand--a sensory experience that relaxes and grounds her.
She's learned to ride a bike and how to jump rope this year.
She has beautiful penmanship (for a 5-year-old).
Using her hands to create (sewing, cutting, pasting, drawing) is clearly a joy for her, and I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm going to have to take a deep breath, put aside my dislike of cooking with small children, and give her some one on one time in the kitchen.
She has a loving, giving heart that amazes me often.
Those who have known Ladybug over the course of the past school year are astonished at her growth; she's doing great!