The Daughter Chronicles

Friday, June 03, 2016

Norah's fifth grade year

Last week Norah finished fifth grade, which wasn't her best year. She's not quite sure why, but she just had a rough time.
Part of it was her teacher, who was unlike the ones she had in fourth and third grade. Her third grade teacher is a very funny woman who made class a lot of fun. Her fourth grade teacher is a very warm, maternal woman. Her fifth grade teacher is a very nice lady, but she was a bit older (she's 65) and not as funny or warm. Norah had some difficulty adjusting to her, even though we warned her that she shouldn't base how she approaches school by how she liked her teachers, because she's going to have a lot of teachers in the future that she might not like. She got to like the teacher over the course of the year, but it was still tough for her at the beginning of the year.

Then it turns out that fifth grade is pretty hard. I mean, crazy, right? Norah has always done very well in school, and she did pretty well this year. She got more Bs than she had in prior years, but her school counts 94% and above as As, so it's already a bit more difficult to get them, and a lot of her Bs, according to her teacher, were low 90s percentages, which would have been As in other schools.
We've always told her we don't care about her grades as long as she does the best she can, and we're pretty confident that she does, so the slight uptick in Bs didn't bother us. The problems came because she was just having a harder time with the work and I don't think she knew how to handle as well as she could. It's hard to help her because as nice as we might be, she gets far more upset when Krys or I try to help her with school work than when her teacher does. I don't know why. I told her that next year I would help her more, especially with spelling - she's always been good at spelling, but this year she slipped quite a bit - and she seems to be okay with that. We shall see. She also didn't want to do very much extracurricular stuff. She still joined the orchestra and she submitted stuff for the school's Arts & Letters night (and she tied for first place for her 3-D art, because it was awesome), but she didn't try to run for Student Council (which she did in fourth grade), she didn't do any work for the book awards that the school gives (even though she reads a lot, she didn't write up plot summaries and character biographies, which would get her an award at school), and she had a bit of an attitude throughout the year. When I asked her about it, she said as sarcastically as possible (which isn't very), "Daddy, I'm a tween." I don't think she knows exactly what that means, but I guess it means that she can have an attitude and I just have to accept it. She always says it rather jokingly, so I don't take it too seriously, but I still have my eye on her!

She didn't really love the social aspect of fifth grade either, which is too bad because it's only going to get worse. There's a bit of the whole "kids liking kids" thing in lower grades, but it really began in earnest this year, and man, it's annoying.
Norah wasn't too into it - she told Krys she liked a boy early in the year, but she got over that pretty quickly - but her friends were, and they dragged her into it a lot. She was always coming home telling me about some boy liking her friends and whether they liked them back and then they didn't like them but they liked somebody new ... it was exhausting. Plus, some kids were "dating," which we told her was crap, as the kids were never alone with each other and didn't even see each other outside of school. I guess "dating" means that they acknowledged that they liked each other, because often, it was simply a boy telling a different girl that he liked another girl (Norah got this a lot) or the girls just talking amongst themselves about who they liked. Norah didn't love it and hung out with her one friend who also wasn't into it too much, a girl we told her to stick close to, because she knows what's up. Both of them often mocked all the girls for getting caught up in the whole "romance" thing, but it was hard to ignore it all. I told Norah that she might get swept up in it sooner rather than later, but no matter when it became important to her (it didn't become important to me until I was 16, because I'm weird, I guess), if the boy can't tell her directly that he likes her, he's not worth it, and if she can't tell the boy directly, she's probably not as into him as she thinks. (This is all assuming she's not into girls - she's never given any indication that she is, and I hope she would know we'd be fine with that if she were, but it doesn't seem to be the case here.) We'll see what happens going forward. Norah had a rougher time this year socially not because her friends turned into jerks, but they started liking stuff - boys, mostly - that she wasn't as interested in. So I think she had some problems there, although once she started regarding the weird "romance" dance with a jaundiced eye, she got better with it.

It's tough to say she's turning into a sullen teenager, because she's not, and when I say she had more of an attitude this year, I don't mean she had much of one - she's still Norah, after all - just that she is changing, and we're hoping we can make sure her life is still good even as she goes through them. She's still a happy girl and she's still respectful to us and her teachers (well, occasionally she gets a bit lippy with us, but we're fine with that as long as it doesn't get out of hand), but she is bored a bit more often these days - something we've always worried about because Mia commands so much of our attention - and she isn't as interested in trying new things.
She's still playing tennis, and she has fun with that, but she stopped taking Latin lessons and she never got back into karate. We don't push her - she'll figure out what she wants to do - and she's still interested in doing some stuff (like acting, although we haven't found a good acting camp to send her to), and she's still in Girl Scouts because she wants to be a camp counselor in the future, so we don't have many complaints. She's a great kid.

I do hope her sixth grade year goes better. The sixth grade teacher is also very nice, but like the fifth grade teacher, she seems fairly no-nonsense and tough, and they're getting a new sixth grade teacher at her school who I know nothing about. So we'll see. I hope Norah accepts our help with her schoolwork and I hope she learns how to work better - I think she was surprised that it wasn't easier for her, as it has been, so she needs to learn how to study better. Of course, I hope she's happy. She doesn't need all the drama!


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