A “Nice” Too Far

We know we should be happy; Everything is going so wonderfully well at the moment.

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Is it Farm Girl or is it Liverpool’s new striker?

The kids are fast-growing bundles of energetic cuteness and their doting mother’s pride and joy,

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the gardens seem to have become lush jungles over night, and, inside, the kitchen is turning out to be exactly as we imagined.

Apart from the odd sniffle, everyone is fit and well; mostly content in their chosen ways-to-pass-the-working-day and generally enjoying their laxing out time, too. There really is no reason to feel down… except for just one, teeny-tiny thing: we suspect we’re just a little too…nice; And, as we are often reminded, Nice Guys Finish Last. Not that we’re even running the race – we’re not even watching from the sidelines – but sometimes it feels the course marshals are directing all competitors directly over our happy little band of misfits.

Yes, it’s going to be one of “those” blogs; one of unmitigated moaning and pathetic self pitying. Please excuse us.

Last week we had Farm Girl’s end-of-year IEP (Individual Education Plan) meeting, our second only one. IEP meetings, a gathering together of all involved in the education of the student with special needs (in Farm Girl’s case; visual impairment), are all about collaboration and helping the student level the educational playing field. All went swimmingly; Farm Girl is ticking off goals left, right and centre and growing everyday in handling herself and her disability with maturity beyond her years. All assembled shared their stories, statistics, triumphs, concerns and suggested goals in a wonderfully amicable manner.  We Homesteaders glowed with pride. It took us a moment to realise proceedings had veered slightly but it suddenly became apparent we were in the spotlight. Just what, we were questioned, did Farm Girl DO at home? What did her after-school LOOK like? What were we doing to address the SOCIAL ISSUE of school-home flow? Umm..problem? School-home flow? Social issue? Of course, in the cold light of day it’s all very clear. You politely but firmly restate the jurisdiction of the assembled group and point out the line they have just leapt over. What the Homesteaders-in-attendance actually did was supply the answers because that’s what nice people do: they answer questions however impertinent. They nod and accept, opening the way for claims that they are stunting social growth by encouraging each other to accept nothing less than mutual respect and rapport in friendships. Then they go home and lick their wounds.

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Nice people tolerate unrealistic workloads, condemnation without the right to reply, ridicule of beliefs, and plain, old fashioned bullying.  But why? That’s the question we’ve been asking ourselves this week: why do we allow some folk to run all over us?

Maybe you could shed some light on it; We’re open to suggestions.

In the meantime, we’re working on doing a “Frozen”.

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22 thoughts on “A “Nice” Too Far

  1. Because you have respect and you tolerate other peoples ideas and opinions. And you don’t push your agenda onto others. Nice people are tolerant and accepting of others. I know how you feel.

  2. It’s not “nice” when you get home from a meeting like that – you beat yourself up about what you should have said, what you shouldn’t have tolerated, what you could have said. I know the feeling well. So, although you are right to want to ‘let it go’ you could, perhaps, not forget it entirely, so that next time you find yourselves in a similar situation, you can put a stop to it… nicely, of course!
    The other thing that you might do now is check with Farm Girl how she is getting on – does she feel there are any social issues with the home-school flow (whatever that means)? It doesn’t sound like she does, so clearly you are not failing her… and, after all, she’s the important one here – not the educators!

  3. Ah blueh…you have fallen for the trap of defending yourself when there is no need for it….speaking as a mom of an former IEP child (who made his way in the world very well despite some unusal higly critized choices by us and our son, thank you very much indeed ;o)) Of course it is outrageous that ‘all those people’ think they are intitled to ask anything that comes up in their narrow minds and above all have an opinion too. (yes, yes, I am still annoyed, I will sing Frozen too today, a couple of times)
    But indeed, the good news is Farm Girl is doing fantastic ( Beckham eat your heart out) you are happy in your life and They are not your friends and family. There is nothing else to it: master the art of noncommittal answers with a stoic face. It brought us tremendous joy. Here some examples: ” Really? Fascinating! That might be a good idea! We will take that home and have a closer look at it. ‘
    And I am ‘little enough’ (not as nice as you are) to have enjoyed the growing insecurity and annoyance at the other side of the desk…
    Well enjoy your weekend, eat lots of cake and be merry and give the wonderful Farm Girl a big hug from me. I am having the Mother-of-all-flues here but recovering…that email is in the makes dearies!!! xo Johanna
    ps what in Grimm’s name is Home-School flow??? h never mind…just eat that cake

    • Cake is being assembled as I type!
      Thanks for the “we’ll take that home…” phrase – we’ll load that into our arsenal for next time.
      It’s been wonderful to unload this into the blogosphere and hear from folk we respect who have been through all this and have fabulous kids leading meaningful, well rounded, well balanced, honest lives. And now I’m at the stage where I feel silly for allowing these people the power to churn me up like this…again.
      Love to you from here, Johanna. Feel better soon; you are a joy xxx

  4. Yeah, like they said. 🙂

    We too had some issues like this…that feeling of “wait a minute, are you questioning my parenting?”, and then getting/feeling defensive, and then a sneaky little doubt that builds deep inside, because maybe they’re right and you’re ruining your child’s life by not providing the wherewithal for them to be just like everyone else. I waffled horribly in those young years for each of my kids, agonizing over the whole issue of “socializing”. I didn’t exactly want my kids to be like other kids – but I didn’t want them to be ostracized either. They themselves waffled between an agony to “fit in” and a bewilderment that fitting often involved not being themselves, and it really took till high school for each of them to find a way to make that work, and I would say even then, it’s still a bit of a conundrum. I’m impressed – I didn’t figure it out till I was in my 20’s, and maybe that’s what allowed that tiny seed of doubt to take root in my heart when I had that same talk with the school regarding one of our kids.

    I hadn’t discovered the blogosphere at that time, maybe it didn’t even exist yet, since that was about 15 years ago, but I did derive some comfort from the example of Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms, author of several farming and ethical food books, and later famous from from the film Food Inc, and from the book Omnivore’s Dilemma, The Salatin’s son and daughter were both home schooled which was still a pretty maverick thing to do 25 years ago when their kids were school age.

    Here’s what Joel wrote in his book Family Friendly Farming: “I wish I had a dime for every time someone has accosted me…for not properly socializing my children, Honestly, I don’t want them socialized. …What we really want is for them to be sociable. And there’s an important difference. Social skills are things like being able to hold polite conversations, thinking of others, eating gracefully and holding doors for ladies. Socialized kids take the path of all other kids. And kids can be incredibly tough on each other. If you grew up with a physical defect, you know what I’m talking about. A sociable child would not point and make fun…but socialized children taunt and make up nicknames about any anomaly they can find”.

    FG is the youngest in a line of offspring who all appear to be doing just fine in the adult world, suggesting theres not much wrong with your parenting, and evidence on the blog suggests that FG herself is pretty fabulous. I admit, getting through these early years is probably pretty tough, but her time will come. Funnily enough, the cool kids of school are by and large not the ones who do well in life once the school years are past. I have no idea if she is “cool” or not in the school yard, but I’m pretty sure from her goings on in the annals of the blog that she has all the attributes to become someone with the energy and smarts to make a real contribution to the world. To support that, I’m including a link to a recent news story here: http://blogs.vancouversun.com/2015/11/04/five-things-about-carla-qualtrough-canadas-new-minister-for-sport-and-persons-with-disabilities/

    Sorry for the novella length of this. I was boiling over on your behalf when I first read your post, and this is actually a simmered down version. Just imagine if you’d had me across the tea table – you’d never have made me shut up :).

    • I would have loved having you across the table and love that you became enraged on our behalf. Those Salatin words sum up our thoughts so wonderfully well though I’d never really examined the difference between socialized and sociable. So so so true! FG is choosing to play alone at the moment at school rather than join the “clubs” that are all the rage in her school playground at the moment. These club are the sort of “truth, dare or promise”, sniggering at others, eye rolling type stuff which we’re proud she wants nothing to do with. Besides, the school has just repainted their soccer and basketball goals in brighter contrasting colours and opened a whole new world to her. Olympics at the very least as far as she’s concerned. So, no she’s not “cool” – thanks goodness; the rest of us couldn’t keep up with that!
      The link was amazing – thanks for sharing. And thanks for taking the time to read and comment and make us feel a whole lot better. I’ve written the Joel Salatin words down…in times of stress my mind goes blank but he is coming along with us to our next IEP..

  5. I was the IEP child in our family and this blog post was so insightful for me… this is what my mother must have gone through for years… she was a single mom as my father passed away when I was 5 and she fought for me all the fallowing years… remember in the end the only person who you need to worry about is farm girl and you will do fine… do not give in to those who think they now what is best for her … you do and you always will… made me love my mother and her struggle even more today.. bravo!

  6. There is not much I can add after the thoughtful comments you have received, except to say I understand from my own experience with children and educators what you are feeling. I wish I had had the support of fellow bloggers when I was going through it, although as long as you stick to what you know what is right for your family – all will be well in the end based on my experience.

  7. I would go to the next meeting well armed with questions of your own of an impertinent and personal nature so that should they question your activities, you can counter with a well chosen squib if your own. e.g “Are you fully aware of the exciting work in this field being done in Bogota?”

    There is something to be said for teachers knowing what is going on at home as I learned when as a probationary teacher I told a boy off for being late again and he apologised and said that he was late becuase he was getting his sisters dressed as his parents had committed suicide again. (They had. It was their tactic when things got too bad for them to bear. They had it down to an art.) A little home school flow would have been handy then.

    • I have written your “squib” down for airing next time 🙂
      I totally agree with teachers being kept in the loop regarding the students home life. We’re a pretty open bunch of folk and I suspect that may play a part in folk feeling it’s okay to wade in with feedback whether appropriate or not.
      Every day is a school day, as they say, and we’ve learnt a lot from this episode – mainly that we need to attend these meetings as a group….oh, and to keep an ear to the ground regarding these studies being undertaken in Bogota 🙂

  8. I have arrived late to cheer you from the side lines! I know exactly how you felt because I have had to attend at least 20 such meetings over the last few years with regard to my younger daughter and a couple before that re my elder daughter. I started out feeling that I was doing quite well as a parent but it didn’t take too long for me to believe that I was totally inept and had only myself to blame for my daughters’ problems. Not only did we have to have meetings at school and at the education offices but we had home visits too. There was nowhere to hide and every part of our lives was open to scrutiny. Both my daughters were bullied at school and the authorities didn’t want to have to deal with their responsibilities. Both my daughters spent playtime mainly on their own. They were lonely at times and often wished for a best friend but at least they didn’t have to cope with the cool kids’ sneering.
    Farm Girl is fine. You are doing marvellously too. If you have to attend any more of these meetings make sure you go well prepared and go mob-handed too. The more people from the Homestead who attend the better.

    • We feel very lucky to have so many people cheering from the sideline for us.
      Bizarrely, we know everyone has the “best” interests of Farm Girl at heart – it’s just their interpretation of what is best for her socially is not ours and it did feel like we were subjected to a stealth attack.
      Educationally, FG could not be in a better place but lines need to be drawn up or at least re established. All these lovely comments have given us the confidence and support to hold our own. We now know what to expect and will definitely turn up en masse next time.
      Love to you and your lovely family from us all

  9. Oh the tangled web of dealing with people. It’s a huge disappointment most of the time and thee is nothing better you can offer your child then growing up on a homestead in a loving, stable environment and nurturing her into maturity!

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