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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Star of the Week

The Tongginator's class begins celebrating the "Star of the Week" in a few days. I'll give y'all three guesses one guess (cuz y'all seem fairly bright) as to who the first *STAR* might possibly be. Obviously my favorite kindergarten teacher, Ms. Confetti, recognizes True Greatness. Let's just ignore the fact that one of a certain someone's names might just possibly be the first in line alphabetically among her classmates, shall we?

Because us Tonggu Mommas love to live with our delusions.

For those of y'all with children younger than school-age, the "Star of the Week" activity is your basic average "All About Me" poster or bulletin board. Teachers typically do this activity with kindergarten and first-grade students for several reasons. First, it helps the teacher and classmates learn more about one another. Second, it helps young children feel valued as individuals within a much larger group. Finally, it allows the children a chance to express themselves through public speaking and often offers an opportunity to play a leadership role in class.

I am actually very pleased with the assignment that often causes such angst among young adoptees and their parents... but I'm pleased because the Tongginator's teacher handled it in a way that allows for and celebrates family diversity. Instead of including the oft-dreaded requests for baby photos, birth statistics and the ages the child met developmental milestones, the Tongginator's teacher simply requested the following items.


I love that Ms. Confetti focused on each child's present rather than the past... and that she allows for and expects diversity among her students. Since we adopted transracially, we still have to prepare that adoption may come up during the classroom discussion. I mean, even some five-year-olds will pick up on the fact that the Tongginator is Asian-American, but both of her parents are not. One glance at our family photo is all it takes. We've role-played this situation a bit with the Tongginator and I think she'll do fine.

But I'll also check in with her teacher - after the fact - to find out if "adoption stuff" came up during the classroom discussion.

Yesterday, the Tongginator and I reviewed some of the coping strategies listed in The W.I.S.E. Up Powerbook by Marilyn Schoettle and also read the book Star of the Week: A Story of Love, Adoption and Brownies with Sprinkles by Darlene Friedman (see my reviews of these two books here). For some reason, the Tongginator totally glossed over the lack of information about or a photograph of her first parents. Instead, she fixated on the fact that her class doesn't allow the "Star of the Week" to bring in a special snack. That was a good lesson for me - don't create an Adoption Issue for your child when one does not exist. That doesn't mean it will always remain that way - children feel and process information differently at different stages - but it does mean that keeping the lines of communication open does NOT mean pushing an agenda.

It's a hard thing to navigate, I think. I'm still learning that one.

As for the other questions Ms. Confetti asked, the Tongginator answered true to form. She supplied her birthday and her favorite color, which was "pink, purple AND blue... because I can't choose a favorite favorite, Momma." Her favorite food?

she wrote the English and Chinese character, but I wrote the pinyin

She also announced her dream job when she is - and I quote - all growed up. "I want to be a chef, but I don't want to have to wear a chef hat... because those? Are ugly."

And we can't argue with that one, can we?

25 comments:

bbmomof2boys said...

Sounds like your Mrs. Confetti has a good handle on things. As a bonus she picked YOUR daughter to be the first star of the week. I also think its pretty cool that the Tongginator wrote that she loves noodles and the Chinese for it. You have your self one smart fortune cookie there...heh.

Side note on the "what do you want to be when you grow up". When L was in 4th grade they had some parents come in and talk about their work. One parent worked at Sears. L was all excited about this and announced when he grew up he was going to play baseball or work at Sears!!

Hugs,
Carla

Buckeroomama said...

T and my J should totally get together. J has never wavered from his stated ambition of being a chef since K1 two years ago!

I love her drawing of that bowl of noodles. Great job on writing the Chinese character! (Psst, do you know that that character also means 'face'?)

Beach Mama said...

I always liked the "Star of the Week" projects too. Sounds like Miss T handled the assignment very well. Too bad she can't take in a special snack. I would do it anyway. She can set the example:).

Mom to 5...Daughter of the King said...

We live in a walking district. Sometimes I think that helps because the kids see me with the girls and so they know I am caucasion. We have lots of biracial children in our school. I think some students just assume my husband is Chinese! =-)

Cheri said...

I love Mrs. C!! She seems like an awesome teacher.

TM, I truely have learned so much from you. Thank you for taking the time to write on your blog, NHBO, and GIMH! You are a wealth of information.

Anne said...

Nice noodles.

prechrswife said...

It's kind of funny. The first thing my daughter's 3 year old preschool teacher asked for them to bring in was a family photo. I instantly went to the adoption angle, thinking we needed to sit down and review what adoption meant, etc., with our daughter. Then, when she and I were in the car one day (before we had talked about it), she just popped up at random and told me the 3 year old version of her adoption story without being prompted. Honestly, I don't think it even came up at school at all. (1) The kids are young. (2) A good number of them go to the church that has the school, and there is a very active family there with 3 daughters from China.

Sarah said...

I can't believe teachers still do that project. Does that make me old?

Super Mommy said...

What? Not SUPER Star of the Week? LOL! I'm sure you all will have fun picking out what you are sharing with her class. Love the noodle drawing too - they look delish!

Holly said...

Oh my goodness! I can see her now in her diva alternative chef hat.
Yes, she will make her mark on this world, be it in politics or noodle making ;)

Sharie said...

Amelia's class had a similar list to fill out - although they did ask for a baby picture - I asked Amelia if she wanted to take her referral picture (since it is the earliest one we have) her response - "NO Momma, I look like a boy." She went right in the house and marched up to my room and took her 1st Birthday photo off my nightstand. "This is the one I want to take!"
It didn't matter to her YET that she wasn't a baby...because she looked cute:)
I didn't address this with her teacher, because it wasn't an issue for us, but perhaps I should for future students.

The Source said...

Sounds like things are going smoothly so far! Take your cues from the Tongginator and you'll know when to make more of an issue of it.

I love her drawing!

Valerie said...

Hello, coming out of lurkdom to comment. Our daughters share a connection, both from Tonggu. My daughter just started preschool today and I was telling my husband how we need to address the adoption issue. Our daughter is only 4, so I don't think she will fully grasp what it means to be adopted. But, she does know she is from China and quickly recognizes others like her. I'm just not sure how in depth of an explanation to go into with her--especially since it's not really an "issue" yet. I feel like we need to prepare her, but her daddy feels we will just handle it as it comes up. How did you start off with your little "Star"?

ChineseDad said...

Your blog rocks! I've enjoyed reading it and have learned a lot on the race and social issues. Needless to say, I can use some of your wisdom in parenting my American-born kids who happen to look Chinese because of me and my wife. One thing that I would like to point out is this: While it's benificial to our kids by making sure that they are not being excluded or singled out at school, it's imperative for us as parents to make sure that they are afforded ample opportunities to develop their God-given talents and hence earn a solid "merit-based self-esteem." For example, on the academic front, many public schools today institute policies that aim to make every child feel "equally good" regardless of their efforts and work. It's not uncommon to see the potential final scores of important subjects like math and science to be P (passing) or I (In Progress). And I am not talking about kindergarten or first grade. I have seen that in 3rd and 4th grade reports.

One thing that many Chinese American parents have been doing right is to fact of instilling hard work and academic exccellence in their children. Racial prejudice will be a mere minor inconvenience if our children are successful later in life. I could care less of what others think of me or whether they try to exclude me if I am a successful physician, professor (yes, some profs make $250K or more a year), fund manager, CFO, business owner, etc. I can imagine that as American, you probably are very much aware (more so than us Chinese immigrants) when your child is being excluded because of his/her ethnical background. That kind of feeling sucks. But it also motivates us to raise more resilient children who will overcome a lot more challenges later in life and become extremely successful.

Janet said...

Well, I'm with the Tongginator. I like noodles too, and they're in a GREEN bowl, which is my favourite colour. BTW, did you notice you spelled COLOUR and FAVOURITE wrong? You must be American or something. Hee hee.

jen@odbt said...

I don't think the kids will even notice that about your family picture. It's a family and unless they're told differently that's what they see and if the question comes up then I'm glad Tongginator knows how to handle it. That's the beauty of such young minds - these things are non-issues for them. They just want to know what the snack is :) I wish they could always stay this innocent. PS: I love noodles too!

Marla said...

Yay for the star!!! My poor kids are always last in line for these things since our name starts with "W". Oh well. I'm sure the Tongginator is going to be the best Star of the Week her class will ever see! :)

Heather of the EO said...

I have a feeling you guys will set the Star of the Week bar really high!! (you're so creative and entertaining, that's what I mean by that)

I love the way you think.

Which reminds me...my best friend is pretty sure her son has sensory issues. What's your favorite book on that subject?

Thanks for your time, lady.

blackbelt said...

Love. LOVE. The drawing of noodles. Sluuurp! My favorite, too!

justgerbil said...

Short Stuff would approve. He likes noodles best too. He especially likes how they flap if you choose to eat them rudely. Go figure.

Rachel@just another day in paradise said...

Don't you just love PERSONALITY in children? Sometimes mine drive me nuts, but most of the time, I LOVE the fact that they know what they want.

Annie said...

Love it!! Thank you so much for the wonderful advice about not creating a problem where non exsist!! You are exactly right about just waiting at each stage and with each step, to see if there might be some kind of an adoption issue first before creating one where non exsist!!! Very wise words and I love the noodles picture and I also agree that Chef hats ARE ugly!!! LOL!!

Half Gaelic, Half Garlic! said...

I remember star of the week.....and our school handled it much like the Tongginator's. They focused on present, not past:) I will never forget how excited Nick was when it was his turn!!

Great picture of her favorite food....and a chef.....I LOVE IT!! I have to agree with her on the hat....they are kind of ugly!! I wonder if they were designed by a man.....

Lisa

Mamatini said...

I love it! Another Tonggu chef in the making!

And Ina seems to have handled the adoption angle just fine in Pre-K: the other day her teacher informed me that she quite frankly and unabashedly told her and her classmates how she was born in China and how we came to adopt her. (I did a little happy dance that she felt so comfortable and matter-of-fact about it.)

Jean said...

What a great teacher and a great assignment!

I love the way children think and yes, what a good lesson- if there is no issue don't make it into one!

Love your blog!