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SD Parent Teacher Conference

NotYourAverageStepMama's picture

So this morning we had SD's virtual parent teacher conference. We learned that basically any letter sounds and letter recognition is non-existent. The teacher has begun early intervention with SD and the assistant teacher whereas she is getting one on one extra help with trying to help SD improve on these areas. SD has gotten a little better in the last two weeks since this started, but before that she could not recognize a single letter or tell the sound of it.

Then as for math the teacher said SD can only count to five and only recognizes 0, 1, and 2.... When we saw SD every other week, we worked with SD on counting and DH would do number and letter exercises with her. At that point SD could count to 15 and knew more than what she is showing to know in school. 

So that is pretty frustrating especially when in the past DH has mentioned to BM that he was working on x, y, and z with BM and it would be helpful for SD to continue working on those items when with BM too. BM claimed up and down how she does workbooks with SD and she has her learning apps. We would be able to tell since there was always regression when coming back to our house that it wasn't happening. We also had SD in daycare where they would also work on these items. Since BM has become primary parent in September 2020, at most SD has been with a sitter when BM works so not to point fingers, but seems that SD's learning did not continue prior to entering kindergarten the last year. 

BM messages this morning to give the time of the parent teacher conference for SD which BM doesn't realize we already know because of the school app the teacher uses. Then about an hour and a half after BM's parent teacher conference BM messages 2 pictures, 1. of SD in the classroom, 2. SD with her teacher.... So basically SD is seriously struggling in school and BM chooses instead of messaging DH about that, sends two pictures that have nothing to do with helping SD. The teacher probably told BM that she had a parent teacher conference with us already so perhaps that is why, but come on, it is pretty serious that SD has been in school for 2 months now and doesn't know the things that she already should of had some knowledge on before entering kindergarton.

So we asked the teacher if there was anything we could work on with SD when she is with us for winter break and she gave some suggestions and will upload some of the items they work on in school for us to do with SD while she is with us. We really like her teacher because not only is she going to upload things for us to print to work on with SD, but she is uploading all the papers and everything regarding SD's progress, etc. Plus thanks to a suggestion from another person on here, SD's teacher is going to get back to us on how we can order our own photos of SD from picture day without having to go through BM, whether that is by giving us the code we need or what. 

So what do people suggest on addressing or not addressing the information from the parent teacher conference? Whenever DH has tried to ask for BM's help on continuing to teach SD things at her home, potty training SD also when at her home, etc. BM has EVERYTIME said that she is working on those items and blah blah blah, so it goes no where. Since we do not see SD regularly right now we would not know if she does work on these items with SD or not, but from past experience BM has claimed to be doing that, but you could clearly see the regression when SD was with BM because it was not actually being worked on. We just do not want SD to end up having to repeat kindergarton if things do not improve as they need to for her to move on to first grade. SD is already dramatically behind and new things are just going to be continued to be added.

I don't want to make assumptions about BM's house and how she allocates her attention/resources, but BM's older daughter could write her name at 4, but also DH was involved at that time and primary parent of her and she was in daycare during the week everyday. SD is now just starting to be able to write her name. SD when asked cannot tell you how old she is either. It just seems really strange to me unless for the last year BM has not been working on these things while at home with her and we know for fact she was not in a preschool or daycare. I will admit DH and I could have started in on some more of the items when we had SD, but we were already working on trying to teach her numbers, colors, her full name, etc. because she did not know these things. I know this is one of those things that we cannot control from so far away. We have continued everytime we have had SD more than for a day or weekend, to work on numbers, letters, etc. with her, but the time we do have with her now (6 weeks of summer, every other christmas break, and every spring break), will not be enough to make a difference in her learning and education if BM is not also trying at home. I get it about being busy, but this is something that time should be made for. 

I really feel for SD because she has just always had the shitty end of the stick. Since BM and DH separated before she was 2, everything since then with learning has been delayed. When we had BM's older child, a lot of the energy and time was spent on her and her behaviorial problems. BM has hinted that is still the case at her house. Plus since the child is fatherless that we know of, BM dotes on this child much more than SD because SD "has a dad." etc. It is just really frustrating because SD is such a great kid and things could be going so much better for her, but they aren't. There is not anything we can do about it. You all can say "not of moved away" which I get, but now that we have full access to SD's file we know BM's husband is active duty military, no wonder BM keeps saying "may move" because her DH will be getting orders somewhere else so BM isn't staying in VA either, just a matter of time before she leaves. Last we heard was the new year being when she was moving. Some will probably say disengage too, but it is not just me that is worried about SD and her lack of excelling in school, DH is just as concerned and worried, but unsure of what to do from here.


CallMeCrazy's picture

I think the big question is: what is your end game? You moved very far away from this child and chose to limit your DH's time with his child. BM doesn't sound like she's prioritizing SD's education, but what can you really do about it? You cannot force BM to do what you want or how you want it and doing so will only drum up drama for you and DH. If SD does poorly in school, will he go after full custody? Will you try to educate SD during the couple of times per year you see her and hope it sticks?

Identifying your end game and accepting that you cannot change BM's behavior should be where you start. Once you have that, you can decide what you want to do moving forward.

(My history: I came into SD's life at 2, married her father at 4. BM had primary custody, but we saw her weekly and EOWE. BM was lazy and SD struggled like crazy with school. I took on educating her at home every day she was there and had her work on school workbooks during the summer. She continued to struggle; it just wasn't enough. When she had to repeat a grade, my XH got full custody and she started to improve greatly. She did well in school and even participated in extracurriculars. Had we not lived close by with regular visitation and then custody, we would have just been fighting BM for years.)

NotYourAverageStepMama's picture

becomes an opportunity that we can flip custody then we will. We will not go to court to attempt to flip custody unless we have significant evidence that supports it would be in SD's best interest. 

As I mentioned above, yes we did move away and know that our limited time seeing her and working on these items will not significantly make the difference SD needs. We also know that BM's end goal is moving out of VA in the very near future and as her husband is active duty marine, he will get orders to somewhere else. The move happened and BM's move is going to happen so it is what it is and will always be.

We are documenting medical and educational holes in BM's care because that is the only evidence we think will give us even a chance if we were to go to court to try and flip custody. Otherwise, it definitely is not happening. We do not want SD to fail kindergarton or any grade, but if that happens, perhaps that would be a reason we might consider going back to court, but even then it might not be enough. So really our goal is to hopefully one day be able to prove to a judge that SD living with BM is not in her best interests. That day may never come though either, but if you don't take steps or document now to build up a pattern and showing a history, then you might as well never try either.

CallMeCrazy's picture

Well, I have to be honest with you here. You're really wasting your time "documenting" that SD has trouble with numbers and letters and thinking it will somehow prove neglect. No one, courts included, is going to care that she is "struggling" in kindergarten. Kids develop at all different speeds, some need more help than others, some are whiz kids, etc. Trying to keep track and document this will really just rob you of today's joy and likely frustrate you guys and cause drama with BM if you say anything. 

Maaaaybe there's a case if she misses 100 days of school in a year and needs to be held back, but anything less won't mean anything.I'm sorry, I know it can be super frustrating. This is a situation that calls for disengagement.

NotYourAverageStepMama's picture

but let's say this is a continued pattern and SD continues to be struggling in school, just having the documents from the teacher uploaded from kindergarton, years down the road if it is continuing to happen just establishes a pattern. That is the only goal of uploading those documents is to establish history. 

CallMeCrazy's picture

"Establishing a pattern" will just take up your time and brain space. It really won't matter.

So many poster beat the "document, document, document" drum... but it often has zero impact and it takes away from you enjoying your life.

Floral_SM's picture

Documenting covers your ass. Especially with HCBMs. We have 4 years of documentation of BM neglecting the SK's education. Just incase she decides to use the government's golden uterus card and want sole custody, DH has all his documentation of her BS to bury her in. Just in case. It really doesn't hurt to document. You never know what could happen. 

NotYourAverageStepMama's picture

Establishing DH's role as dad of SD and having to contact some doctors, people at school, etc. it is not like we are spending a lot of our time documenting. Rather when we get info we document it, when we are missing info we request it, etc. It is definitely to cover our ass plus if the time arises we have it all ready. When you are organized and such, it is not a lot of extra work, just really trying to be a parent from a distance.

nengooseus's picture

When the SKs were younger, but no one cared a bit about what DH thought about SKs schooling because he was NCP and Dad.  Over the years, we've got lucky with a couple of great teachers who saw through Mom's BS, but yes, the kid gets the terrible end of the stick.

Looking at your blogs, I empathize so much with you and your situation.  It's taken me nearly 10 years to figure out how to care about and for the kids within the limited parameters that we have.  Until/Unless you all gain majority custody, she will be in the drivers' seat, especially now that you all have moved to the opposite coast.  

That said, I think it's great that Dad is trying to stay involved and engaged, but I agree with CallMeCrazy that you all need to figure out what your end game is.  If it's to gain full custody, it will be an uphill slog, even if she moves out of VA.  You moved first, so you all created the distance.  She will likely prevail in court unless your evidence is extremely compelling, and sucking at Kindergarten isn't going to hold much sway, unfortunately.  (And I say this having fought over a child not succeeding in Kindy.)

We decided that our goal was to have as much peace in our lives as possible, which means as little HCBM as possible.  My older SS lives with us FT now, and we're in court over the 12 year old now.  We ignore a lot.  SKs understand DH's expectations of them and they're happy when they're with us.  DH and I have reconciled to the idea that we have to be OK with the fact that younger SS is miserable and doesn't feel safe with BM until the court tells us we can do something different.  It's not disengagement, it's reality.  We do what we can for him when he's with us.

NotYourAverageStepMama's picture

and it is sad BM likes to remind DH that she has another child to throw it in his face since lost rights to her, but at the same time sometimes you want to remind BM that SHE has another child too that is SD and she needs the same amount of support and such that her older daughter does too.

It is hard because WE really do want nothing, but peace, which means less contact with BM and we have tried to keep that as limited as possible, but at the same time in regards to the medical and educational items if you do not contact/communicate with BM on those subjects then it is basically like dropping the rope. You either have to allow there to be drama in your lives to try and do what is best for SD or you don't communicate and let BM do whatever which makes it appear as though dad does not care.

We DID move first, BUT in their CO, BM is listed as to move out of the state first, she had her lawyer write in there she was moving June 2020. Obviously she did not, but it is written in there that both of them intended to not stay in VA and to move out of the state. BM even wouldn't settle for DH claiming SD on taxes for 2019 as he should have since he had SD 85% of the year, but BM wouldn't agree because she was using the tax money to support her move away. 

We just want the best for SD and it sucks not being able to give it to her, but at the same time DH staying in VA wouldn't of mattered when their CO says they both can move and are moving. We may never even end up going to court because we both agreed unless we really had significant evidence, etc. we would not go otherwise. Other than to file contempt if BM ever did not send SD for DH's visitation. 

I am sorry that your situation has come to that point and in cases such as this, the child is the one who loses.

I guess my other thought rather then messaging BM to see what her plan is in regards to SD's struggles in school is when the teacher does upload all the documents that show SD's struggles, we can just upload those to the education section so it shows DH has been in communication with the teacher and also shows documentation of SD's struggles in school

thinkthrice's picture

However it cannot perform miracles.  And by miracles, the definition in the western world seems to be HCGUBM losing custody even if she has actually harmed the child(ren) both physicall and mentally, this includes educational neglect.   

CP BMs have the golden ticket in the family court system hands down.  They can do no wrong in the eyes of the law 99.9% of the time.

NotYourAverageStepMama's picture

that custody will probably never be flipped, but in case there is ever a chance, we have documentation to help support that. We have no desire to step into a court room, but will if we must if we need to protect SD down the road. 

It is unfortunate how the system is so broken. There are AMAZING mothers out there, but there are also HORRIBLE mothers out there and the same can be said about fathers. A friend of ours who has a daughter with another woman who is a HCBM says he wishes that a judge would receive "Client A" and "Client B" documentation with no mention of if it is mom or dad and have the judge decide off of the evidence with an objective view of not knowing which is which.

Felicity0224's picture

The ladies above gave some great insight. I wouldn't advise y'all to "give up" or disengage from SD's education, because it is so important for SD to feel that her Dad wants to be involved in her school. But I would caution you to really try to emotionally prepare yourselves for pretty much everything you do to be fruitless unless BM has a personality transplant and is suddenly on board. The fact is that the person the kid comes home to after school day-to-day is the one who has the most influence over their academic success. 

In my situation, BM and H were both raised in religious fundamentalist homes and attended non-accredited schools. H was fortunate to have a lot of professional success despite this, and so he didn't attend college until he was in his early 30s and then it was online. So neither of them had any experience or knowledge of traditional education. Meanwhile, both of my parents have PhDs and have worked in education for 40 years, so I was exposed to a lot in addiiton to my own school/university experience. When they were with us 50/50, I nearly KILLED myself trying to help SDs through school - beginning in late elementary when the oldest began to flounder. I was on top of assignments, found and hired tutors, faciliated extra lessons, helped with homework, etc etc. My own mom would spend hours on weekends helping them. In the end, not only was I blamed for "pushing them too hard" and making them "feel bad about themselves", it didn't really make much of a difference for the oldest. She sensed that BM didn't care, and quite frankly H DID care but he was more than happy to let me do the heavy lifting because it was out of his comfort zone. And so she coasted doing the bare minimum to keep herself in athletics and is about to graduate high school with her only options being community colleges because her grades and test scores are abysmal. My younger SD is a junior and top 5% of her class, but I think she likely would have pushed herself to get to that point even without my involvement because she's just an innate high achiever. 

Anyway, all that to say that I totally understand how it feels to be helpless with regard to school stuff. And y'all could jump through all kind of hoops and document and wear yourselves thin trying to make an impact, but I would really evaluate how realistic it is that anything y'all do will have a long term effect on her academic success when she's going home 95% of the time to someone who isn't making her believe that school should be a priority. It sucks, but at a certain point you have to do what you feel is best while still protecting your own sanity/happiness and accept that there are things you can't change.

CallMeCrazy's picture

Looking back over 30 years of being a SM, there are so many times I should have just opted for "peace" instead of fighting to no avail. So much wasted energy.

NotYourAverageStepMama's picture

on caring/documenting and being realistic like everyone has said on here thus far. My DH was not given the opportunity to really excel in school or be exposed to much. He went to a super small Baptist school where workbooks were basically their teacher. I went to a private school until high school, then went to a university and then after my receiving my bachelor’s degree, went on to grad school. BM and DH on the other hand both only have a high school diploma and some college. After 6 years at community college, BM still did not receive an associate degree. I grew up with school being important and then DH since he was not, as an adult knows how important it is and wants to give SD and our future children every opportunity by doing well in school.

I think at this point we would rather document and put work in and not ever get to use it rather than kick ourselves later because we have no documentation or anything. Unforunately for SD we may not be able to do for her what we will be able to do for our children because BM's priorities are not the same as ours and there is only so much we can do. Just frustrating when you see the holes and there really isn't anything we can do about it now and really we may never be able to.

Mamabearof3's picture

If SD is regressing I'd look into her hormone health. I know when mine are flared up I can't even hardly speak right. There could be some educational neglect going on. But with an older sibling whose there everyday she should be picking up on things watching her even. So I'd at least suggest the possibility to DH. 

NotYourAverageStepMama's picture

I do agree that she should be picking up things from her older sibling, but unfortunately the things she has been picking up from her sibling are not good things. 

I know nothing about hormone health so I was just asking when that can become an issue 

The_Upgrade's picture

I know every child is different and learns at a different pace and I'm not trying to offend when I ask this but has SD been assessed for learning difficulties? As in is there a mental problem hindering her learning instead of just neglect on BM's part? It seems highly unusual that a 5 year old these days doesn't know the alphabet or how to count past 5 especially when so many nursery rhymes teach that. Mine learnt at age 1.5 all colours, alphabet and how to count to 20 from just having netflix playing in the background. 

NotYourAverageStepMama's picture

about it just a little while ago who is a school social worker, has worked with preschool to high school aged children for 25 years and has spent significant time with SD, she has seen no indication of a learning disability and neither have we. SD has also been evaluated by a specialist at the school too and there has been no signs of her having a learning disability. Nor my aunt who is actually a special needs elementary school teacher.

Something you need to understand is when SD was 1 - 1.5 she was home with SD 24/7 as well as with SD's older sister. DH on 15 different occasions had come home before his usual work time or for lunch and SD's sister 3 at the time, was taking care of SD. BM was asleep in bed. That is the only times he came home that he witnessed that, but who knows how often it happened. The children were actually playing with BM"s medicine at one point when BM was sleeping and DH came home. SD did not get much supervision or attention, let alone being taught basic things infants/toddlers should learn. Then DH separated BM, SD went to daycare at 1.5 until 3, but on BM's time she refused to take her to daycare, said she doesn't believe in it. Then when SD was 3 it was week on and off at daycare because that is the schedule they were on at the time. Then from 4 until 5, BM had primary custody because we were on out of state schedule and BM took SD to a sitter, not preschool or anything like that. So unfortunately for SD, she has not had a consistent routine for most of her early developmental years. SD learned her colors and how to count past 10 from ages 3 - 4 when we had her week on and week off, plus we realized she did not know these things. DH could have done more from 1.5 - 3 on his time, but when none of that was being carried over to the other house like even potty training it was really hard to catch her up at that point.

***EDIT: Dh could of done more prior to the separation when SD was 1.5, but he also was deployed when she was born and for months after, plus he was away for 3 months at a training school too. So before the separation DH was hardly in the same state let alone country so it was solely on BM. Then when they separated, DH took on as the primary parent.

tog redux's picture

To be honest, there is not a lot you can do with as little time as you have. You can do activities with her at your house, but a week isn't going to make much difference.  This is one of the drawbacks of moving so far away.

I will say though, that kids develop at different rates and if it truly is that BM hasn't done anything with her to help her learn, then she will likely catch up. If not, they will evaluate her for learning issues.

NotYourAverageStepMama's picture

so in the summertime hopefully we can make a difference for her before going back to school, but winter break (when we have it) and spring break (1 week), no is not going to make a difference. 

That is what my mom said since the teacher is aware she is behind and already started early intervention with her, if BM could even do a little bit with her at home and then when we see her keep up with helping her, that SD will catch up. I just feel bad for SD because it feels like she drew the shitty stick in the whole thing.

Floral_SM's picture

Keep doing what you are doing and file all of this away. Education is important and I know she's young, but her knowing your support is always there is so good for these kids. They will remember you didn't give up on them. We do the same thing, 4 years of documentation and counting. When toxic BM decides to threaten DH again, he's ready to go with legal advice and his documents. She would have eff all to prove but her stupid opinion. 

NotYourAverageStepMama's picture

Other than requesting information and reaching out to participate with the teacher, it really is mostly filing. Only additional thing we did was start a log in Microsoft word that has dates and a simple sentence or two to document something significant. I.E. Dh was not listed on SD's school paperwork as having custody. It isn't that much extra work, but if we didn't do it and something came up to even just cover our ass we don't have to go searching and searching for the info.


Rumplestiltskin's picture

Buried in the post was that SD is not fully potty trained? At 5 in kindergarten? This, to me, is a big red flag. Has she been evaluated for developmental delay? Like, formally evaluated? 

NotYourAverageStepMama's picture

Trained now! Haha I see how that read. She wasn't potty trained before she was 3 though, it took a longer time than should of because it wasn't being addressed at both houses just ours and then BM still had her wearing pull ups. She finally became fully potty trained just before turning 4

Rumplestiltskin's picture

Oh, that makes more sense! Almost 4 is late but not nearly as alarming as kindergarten. I sympathize with the uphill battle you guys are fighting. It's hard when the BM is a low-life. 

NotYourAverageStepMama's picture

By kindergarten she wasn't potty trained.

thank you. I wish it was easier but have accepted it is what it is and will be that way!

BethAnne's picture

During the early years there should be enough time in the summer to catch up on the essentials and kids are generally happy enough to do extra learning away from school and it is easy to make it fun for them. Winter and spring break are shorter but if you have sd then you can do small learning tasks like how to tie a shoe lace, tell the time or turn baking cookies into a math and science lesson etc. Small things that will make a difference. Later on though it won't be so easy. 

Keep copies of official school reports, emails from teachers etc. I don't know if it will be helpful, but it can't hurt. From what I have heard on here judges are reluctant to change custody and will give mothers a million chances to make improvements. We only got custody because BM is reluctant to go to court. 

It sucks seeing a bright child failing at school, we have that here now but unfortunately it is a 13 year old who is reluctant to help herself (or let others help her) and my husband is reluctant to make the hard decisions (limit internet time, close oversight and supervision etc...) which will help set her up for success.

I don't really know how to handle it, I think I just have to learn to accept it and hope that somehow SD becomes more diligent at high school. 

NotYourAverageStepMama's picture

we have all of SD's spring break except for 3 weeks so just depends on the summer break schedule each year. I think this year we will get 7 weeks of summer. Last year it wasn't our year for Christmas and because of COVID and the regulations surrounding out of state for camps, etc. here we did not get SD as much as we will for all years moving forward. So I do agree when she is young hopefully at the very least in the summer we can make somewhat of an impact

Yeah that is really tough! As of now, my DH has no problem making the hard decisions if they will help SD, but we will see in 8-10 years when she is a teenager! 

All we keep doing is just filing all the medical and educational documents we receive and requesting holes where we have some. FINALLY we should be receiving all of SD's pediatric records in the mail!