Damien started school and- to put it mildly- disaster ensued.
At the outset, his first day at school obviously started with photographs and an early morning trip to Mommy and Daddy Darling for photographs and good wishes. Then when he started his first class that morning, he was in a class of almost FIFTY scholars- and he had no desk. I was very worried when I left. It was a dual medium school (English and Afrikaans) and their plan was to have two Afrikaans first language classes and one English first language class- I dunno how they miscalculated so badly, but they had WAY too many English speaking grade ones. They then decided to hire another teacher to take half the class, and this took two weeks. Within a couple of weeks of Damien starting with the new teacher I started getting phone calls and letters. Now bear in mind that grade ones have one class and one teacher, they don’t change classes or anything… Then came the first parent teacher evening of the year (between mid-January and about March) and I was very excited! I arrived on time (this was before I was given appointed times for parents evenings) and Damien’s teacher met me at the classroom door. There were already a couple of other parents sitting at their kids desks on tiny chairs and marveling over their little darling’s class work. That was what I wanted to do. I introduced myself to the teacher and she immediately adopted a defensive stance with her arms crossed (I didn’t even get an invite to sit down) and launched into an obviously prepared speech about Damien’s lack of control in class. Right there in the doorway. We had to move aside for other parents who were coming in and out of the class. She said Damien never stopped talking/ making noises/ giggling/ shouting/ playing; he was never in his seat; he never did what he was told; he didn’t listen when she spoke… Obviously (and I think I had good reason) I disliked her instantly, and when she finished talking (while I was having flashbacks of Damien in nursery school) I asked her what we were going to do, and what I could do to help. Her exact words were (and I’ll never forget them) “Well I dunno- I’ve given up.”
I swear wanted to hit her!
Okay hang on- I’m getting upset just typing this out- I’ll be back.
Sorry- it’s about 30 minutes later and I’m back, and calmer.
The year did not improve either. After the devastating parents evening, I went to see the principal and requested that he be moved to the other English class, but he said it would be disruptive because someone else would have to switch with him. He suggested waiting to see how it went. I was not happy, but I figured they knew what they were doing. At the end of the second term (round June) and after receiving a shocking report, I again asked that he be moved. The principal now said it was too late in the year to do something like that. I was not at all happy, and neither was Damien. He was failing miserably and they had already started speaking to me about him repeating grade one. Oh how his nursery school teacher’s words echoed in my head…
Poor Damien got painted with the wayward brush early on, and it stuck, of course… One of his favourite stunts during his first year at school was to go out at break and disappear up a tree. After break someone would be sent to find him (usually a prefect) and he would then flat ignore the prefect once he was discovered. Eventually a teacher would be dispatched to get him down and back to his class.
It was a long year. And it was about halfway through the year that the school started talking about Damien repeating the year and that I started looking for a doctor to check out this ADD “thing”.
To put it mildly- I was desperate.