Who You Callin' Scallywag?

When I give Jemby his clothes in the morning, his reply is always the same.

"What are these for?"

"School." I reply as if we have never had this conversation before.

" School? Again?!  I went yesterday!  I will not go."

After officially rejecting school attendance,  he normally gets dressed and does what he needs to do.  But on other days, the bad days, I have to force him to get dressed. Sometimes moving things along by brushing his teeth while he complains.  Recently, I had to force his raincoat on him while he remained noodle-armed, then slide his back pack on and lead him to the bus by the loop on the top of the back pack.  Not pretty.

The problem with school is the work.  He doesn't think he can do it.  So he often doesn't.  He pushes his seat back and crosses his arms in defiance during spelling tests.  This Spring his work avoiding methods included putting his head down on his desk and sleeping. Soundly.  With soft snoring and drool.  The teacher and the nurse both talked to me about it.  He ended up at our pediatrician and then the hospital for lots of blood work.  He's fine.  He was just avoiding schoolwork. Well, reading and writing.  He loves gym, library, science, art and music.  

As Jemby explained to me, he took a lot of time learning all of the stupid letters.  Upper case and lower case.  It was a lot of work.  Most of his friends had spent their entire lives exposed to letters.  Jem spent his first three and a half years in Ethiopia, where he spoke Kembata and then Amharic before traveling to the other side of the world to learn English (not to mention adjust to a new family and culture).  I don't blame him for being resistant to turning all of those stupid letters into stupid words that he is expected to read AND write.  

I walked into his classroom on my volunteer day, a couple of weeks ago,  and the teacher was asking the kids the meaning of certain 'pirate' words.  

"What's a scallywag?"

"Someone who's bad!" yelled one of Jem's classmates

"Do you know any scallywags?" asked the teacher

"Jemby!"  laughed one of Jemby's friends

"Yeah Jemberu is a scallywag!" piped in another buddy

Jemby was laughing with his pals.

Not me.  Arrggghh, he's not a scallywag I wanted to say!  He's a matey!

Sure, maybe he avoids his work.  He probably is the only one of his pals to have been sent to the principal's office when he was a kindergartner. But that was a misunderstanding (Jem misunderstood that he had to follow the rules.)  But he's no scallywag.

My little buccaneer is a really fun kid.  He's a good friend.  I have never heard him say a negative word about any of his friends.  He really is a matey!

The thing that bothered me so much about the scallywag comments, is that I don't want him to be comfortable in his role as scallywag.  As much as he doesn't want to read or write, he has to.  My goal this summer (pray for me) is to work so hard on these skills that when he enters second grade, his friends and teachers will say, "Blimey!  Jemberu is amazing, absolutely shipshape!"

Aye, I know he can do it!  I ain't raisin' no scallywag. Anyone who says otherwise, can just walk the plank.