I was hoping for a minute of your time because there are some things that I would like to share with you about my daughter. I know that there are a lot of demands on your time and that you have curricular standards to meet, but this won’t take long.
Please be sensitive to my daughter. School is not her strong suit. She spent her first seven years living on the margins in a country in the developing world. Because English is not her first language, she still struggles with the nuances of the language even five years later. Her penmanship is not like the other kids’ because she didn’t spend hours and hours coloring with crayons. Because she never learned those fine motor skills, you might be shocked the first time you see her writing, and you might make some assumptions about her intellectual abilities. Please don’t. She is very bright; she just missed out on so much during her early years, and her type of intelligence isn’t what is typically valued in American schools–it certainly isn’t what is tested.
She hates leaving your room for extra help that she needs so she can get those times tables committed to memory, or to learn that complete sentences have both a subject and a predicate. My daughter wants just what most twelve and thirteen-year-old girls want: to be just like the other kids.
She doesn’t feel good about herself in this place where she has to spend so many hours, and if you only knew how much power you have to make her life miserable, or to make her life tolerable, I know you would want her to be happy.
My daughter hasn’t learned all of the subtleties of relating to girls who have had a vastly different childhood than she has, girls who have no idea what it feels like to not have a home, to go to bed hungry, to not have parents, to live and survive in an orphanage, to move to a new country and be expected to bond with an entirely new family that does not look like her. And even though she has been in the United States for over five years, these things take time.
You might think that all of these challenges have left her jaded, but you would be wrong. She is joyful, capable, and loving. She is just rough around the edges.
She might yell at you and be disrespectful, but that is only because she hasn’t quite figured out who is on her side in this struggle to grow up.
Please be on her side and overlook her bravado. It is just her way of masking the insecurity that she feels in school and in life.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and to understand my daughter a little more,