Thursday, June 4, 2015

Chapter 3.13- Less Than Frigid

*****Language warning… again. Or just skip the text below the 14th pic. ;) *****

            Making it to the school with 5 minutes to spare, Mariah glowed with unexpected pride. But today an officious little letter had summoned her, inviting her to a conference with Ms.Ponds and Mrs.Duncan about her darling little Dove.
            Most likely, they wanted to put her in the gifted program, Mariah thought smugly. She, herself, had never been considered for that elite class, a point she had seethed over it until graduation. Now was her chance to prove to Mrs.Duncan how wrong she’d been to overlook a Sixkiller.

            The grim cinderblock walls Mariah had been so familiar with were long banished, replaced with plaster and moldings, bright lights and cheerful colors. When they’d toured the building for Open House Dove had pouted over all the blue.
            “It’s a boys’ school!” She’d lamented, begging hard not to be subjected to the torture of walking these halls each day.
            Ms.Ponds had taken special time with Dove that evening, trying to coax her into a state of acceptance. She’d succeeded, barely, by assuring her when she went upstairs as a third grader, the halls were a light yellow instead. “But they can’t let you into the third grade unless you’ve passed kindergarten (reception,) first and second grades down here in the blue halls first.”

            “Mariah Sixkiller! Hi!” Mariah tried not to cringe. Jesse Ponds had attended with her and Roger and it irked Mariah to no end that she looked almost exactly as she did when they’d graduated. “The stroller might be a little too big for the door, again, Haha! But you can park it out here and Dove’s siblings can play on the carpet while we talk.”
            Mariah wrinkled her nose, barely managed to conceal her sneer. Jesse would bring up how she’d spent almost 5 minutes trying to wrestle the stroller through the doorway when she was here last.
            “The kids are all in Music right now, but when we’re finished here you’re more than welcome to walk down to the Music Classroom with me to fetch them. She’d love to see that you’re here.”

            Settling the twins as Jesse, er… Ms.Ponds, seated herself next to Mrs.Duncan, Mariah felt like Gulliver as he visited Lilliput the tables and chairs were so small. Taking a moment, she allowed her eyes to roam the classroom.
            It was then she’d realized she’d be expected to sit on one of those miniature chairs. All the adult sized ones were taken. Tucking her skirt, she sat gingerly and smiled broadly.
            “I’m sure you remember Mrs.Duncan,” Jesse... dammit. Ms.Ponds beamed. “Were you in her classes with us? I can’t remember…”
            “No,” she answered as civilly as she could. “But I do remember seeing her in the halls.”
            Mrs. Duncan smiled, almost, at her before returning her attention to Je-Ms.Ponds. “It’s been a while since I’ve been over the gifted program, though.”
            Jesse beamed back. “Too long. Mrs. Duncan is now an administrator here.”
            Mariah wanted to gag.

            Jesse faltered, a little confused as to how to turn the conversation to the issues at hand. “So you received the notification of conference in the mail.”
            Keeping her smile sweetly in place, Mariah nodded.
            “Of course,” Jesse took a deep breath. “Uhm, so the first month or so of our year we spend trying to figure out what each of our students come to us already knowing, uhm… Where they’re at so to speak.”
            Again, Mariah nodded. Dove was exceptionally gifted. She knew that already. Spit it out.
            “It takes us such a long time because we want to make sure the students are comfortable and performing as well as they can before we made decisions regarding their educational plan.”
            And Dove had astounded them on her very first day. They were putting her in first grade. No. Third. She was moving straight through the blue halls to the yellow and Ms.Ponds had lied to her and felt bad about it. Dove would understand. It’d be okay.

            Beside her, Ceeven pulled himself up on a chair, pushing it nearer his Mama. Ms.Ponds continued to drone on with the occasional glance at Mrs.Duncan while Mariah watched her boy. Of course, he too was exceptionally bright. Maybe he’d be one of those geniuses who graduated school while still a child.
            “We think a small group would be the best fitted for her. The students included in it would be carefully selected to make sure they’re personally compatible as well as all being about on par with each other so they’re all learning the same things at the same time.”
            Mariah tuned back in and nodded placidly.

            Mrs.Duncan cut her gaze toward Mariah briefly as she nodded. Seeing Mariah’s complacency she relaxed considerably and smiled warmly at her. It was the first time she’d ever been less than frigid and Mariah was suddenly on guard, her ears pricked and attention keen.
            Jesse also sighed and relaxed her shoulders at Mariah’s acquiescence.
            “With Dove we’ll be starting with recognizing her name. I know most parents would prefer we start with basics such as the alphabet or number recognition, but recognizing what your name looks like is really important right now and we can use that as a springboard to learning her ABC’s and the phonics of each letter.”
            Wait. Wait what?
            “Are you saying my Dove is STUPID?!?

            Jesse faltered at the look Mariah gave her. Finally, she gave up and allowed Mrs. Duncan to take over.
            “Of course not! All we’re saying is Dove came in a little behind some of her peers. We’d like to put her in a small group where they’re all working toward learning the same things. Many children are highly successful in such an environment and quickly catch up. But if she doesn’t, we can move her into a classroom where the curriculum is a little more remedial. If she’s willing to work hard, no matter which option is best for her, she’ll still most likely be ready for first grade right along with her peers.”

            “And if I say ‘no,’ Mrs.Duncan?”
            Bev, please. We’re all adults here.”
            “Fine, Bev, what if I say no?”
            Mariah, please. We’re all adults here.”
            Jesse took a deep breath and swallowed while Bev blinked rapidly at Mariah’s sour tone.
            “It’s a small group within our classroom. She’s not being pulled out, she won’t be singled out.” Jesse finally choked out.
            “This is a very common practice in kindergarten, Mariah.” Bev added.

            You’d have thought Mariah had dropped a bomb by the reactions of the educators sitting opposite her. But Mariah took joy in seeing them discomfited almost as badly as she’d been.
            “Neither of you seem to understand,” Mariah went on. “My Dove is a brilliant little girl. Exceptionally bright. I don’t think your testing is equipped for her.”
            “Mariah, please listen to me,” Bev pleaded. “No one is saying Dove isn’t an intelligent child. We’re not even insinuating that. In fact, what we’re saying is that if you allow us to educate her as we see fit we can ensure that she’s able to demonstrate just how smart she is.”

            Mariah stared stonily at Jesse. She was through interacting with Bev.
            “Dove? Doesn’t recognize her alphabet. Or numbers, Mariah. She can’t tell a 1 from a 5, an M from a C. If you don’t do this? She’ll most likely be repeating kindergarten,” Jesse said. “If you don’t do this? Her peers will notice she’s behind and they will avoid her.”
            “Are you suggesting you’d let her be bullied?!” Mariah’s eyebrows had shot up so high they’d nearly disappeared into her hair.

            “I’m not saying anything like that, Mariah!”
            Bev sighed, shaking her head.
            “I’m saying that if you don’t allow us to help her, you a-”
            “Jesse!” Bev warned.
            “Mariah,” Jesse said. “Please. Dove? Is an exceptional artist. We’ve watched her draw and doodle. She shows great capacity for learning technique and detail. If that’s not bright I don’t know what is.”
            “Clearly.” Mariah sneered.
            “Mrs. Sixkiller-”
            Mariah, please.”

            “We’re only wanting to help her,” Jesse’s tone had nearly become a pleading whine.
            “You’ve got to understand that we only want to help her, Mariah. We’re not the enemy here.”
            “And I am?” Mariah refused to look at Bev.
            “No! No nononono.”
            “So I’m a shitty parent?”

            Three things happened simultaneously.
            Bev winced so hard tears appeared on her cheeks, each quickly wiped away; Jesse’s hands flew up and she gasped out “Mariah!” and Vivia squealed at the top of her lungs as she sent pencils, papers, scissors and everything else within her reach flying.
            “Mrs.Sixkiller, I must ask that you please refrain from using such language in my classroom,” Jesse said, sternly. “I will also ask that you keep your children in check in here. Your daughter could have harmed your son when she pushed those scissors off.”

            “No matter,” Mariah’s voice dripped ice and fury. “We’re about to leave.”
            “Please, before you go,” Ms.Ponds was pleading again. “Please sign the Individualized Education Plan in front of you so we can help Dove.”
            “We only want what’s best for Dove,” Bev quietly chimed in. “Just like you.”
            “At least take it with you and read over it. You can sign it later and send it back.”
            “Please, Mariah.”
            Jesse stood as Mariah did, offering out the thick green folder in front of her.
            “All of our testing and her scores are in here. How well she did is written in black and white. See for yourself. Even the questions are there. Take it, please.”
            Mariah held out a single hand and the folder was placed in it. As soon as she felt the full weight she turned her palm sideways, allowing the folder and its contents to cascade to the floor mixing with Vivia’s mess.

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

            When Dove arrived home from school that day she found a present from her mom. Though the easel was far too tall for her, a stool purloined from the bathroom was just about right and she delighted in the colorful tubes of paint and various brushes left in a case for her use.
            Mariah’s heart swelled to bursting. Of course Dove was a wonderful artist. She was wonderful at everything she did.

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

Those meetings suck. And you’d be surprised how many parents react exactly like Mariah.

To go a little more in depth about that meeting, Mariah’s reaction there was a knee jerk. She’s desperately wanting something to go right and so was extra hurt when she finally grasped what the meeting was about. She didn’t act wisely, and will probably figure that out on her own at some point. When? That remains to be seen. Further clarification? Dove is NOT a child with special needs of any kind. I have NO plans to ever delve into that in story.

I’m not going to spell it out just yet, but anyone wanna take a stab at the roll here? :)

My apologies for the long break between the last and this one. Unfortunately, there will be at least an equally long break before the next is out. Life, the universe, and everything. You get it. ;)