Crackin’ Knuckles

posted Friday July 29th, 2011

Sophie is ready for third grade. So ready.

Am I ready? That’s a different story. I’m a bit of a wreck.

School starts in a little more than a week. It’s been a good summer, but in the last few days we’ve all noticed that Sophie’s grown antsy, and yesterday when she got a chance to wander the halls at school (totally supervised, don’t worry), she was squealing at the prospect of going back.

We got the teacher we asked for and a classroom aide I’m promised will be wonderful and the email from the principal announcing this only contained two grammatical/punctuation errors.

Why do I care? I know email is casual, but when you are in a position of authority — at a school, for crying out loud — isn’t it important to at least try?

Perhaps my school-year resolution this time ’round should be to cut folks some slack.

But there’s one thing nagging me and I can’t decide if it’s a big deal or a little deal. So I’ll ask you.

Toward the end of the last school year, I noticed more and more that Sophie was cracking her knuckles. She’d lace her fingers together, push her palms away, and cra-a-a-a-ck. I’ve never been a knuckle cracker myself. It seems a little dangerous and it’s really annoying when someone else does it, and it can’t be a good thing for Sophie, given her low muscle tone and difficulty with fine motor skills. Can it?

Finally, one night I asked her, “Where did you learn that?”

No hesitation. “Ms. (INSERT NAME OF SPECIAL ED TEACHER) does it all the time so I do it!” Sophie announced cheerfully.

The special ed teacher? The special ed teacher is teaching Sophie how to crack her knuckles.

That kind of instruction, I wasn’t expecting.

Sophie hasn’t cracked her knuckles all summer, I realized last night when she was telling me how happy she was to see the special teacher at school. She’ll be with her more than ever, this year. I can hear the cracking of teeny tiny bones already….

So what do I do?

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Tags: Filed under: Down syndrome, third grade by Amysilverman

10 Responses to “Crackin’ Knuckles”

  1. If it really bothers you and you want to say something, I’d just be sure to do it in a gentle, maybe almost joking way. Almost certainly the teacher doesn’t realize that she does it enough to be inadvertently modeling it for Sophie.

  2. As a lifelong knuckle-cracker, let me tell you that if you mention it the compulsion to crack may intensify — at least that’s how it is with me. Also, I have been assured by many orthopods that no serious long term damage is done by cracking. So basically, focus on the Principal’s spelling and grammar!

  3. If you tell her to stop I bet she’ll do it more. Maybe telling Sophie a “time and place” kind of a thing. Like alone in her room when you aren’t around :).

    I always get a little sweaty palm like about corresponding with anyone who is good with spelling and grammar. (I had a friend in high school that used to edit the notes I passed her and then give them back to me!) At the risk of being shunned, I say cut the principal a bit of slack, maybe she is trying. I know I have checked and rechecked correspondence before and still missed things (which I don’t see until after I’ve hit send).

  4. An annoyance, sure, but only Sophie’s doc can tell you if it’s a long-term problem. If s/he says it’s fine, let it go. And the principal with the bad grammar? Not worth pursuing. I see it ALL the time among teachers, and don’t even get me started on the after-school counselors (today’s shame: “allergys”). It’s the start of a new school year. You’ve got bigger fish to fry, right?

  5. When I taught in an urban middle-school, one 6th-grader asked me, “Why do you ALWAYS do that?” Do what? I responded. Then this girl mimicked me walking across the room, nervously rolling my sleeves up and then uselessly rolling them down again, all while humming a bad musical accompaniment dooot-dee-doo. Until I watched this girl, I had no idea that I hum aloud or nervously sleeve-roll — but she was right, I do that.

    I am not sure whether her showing me my behavior modified it at all, but I hope so. I do know that school-teaching is nerve-wracking, and I’m now far more lenient to any teacher’s nervous habit (and, also, absolutely paranoid about ever watching a videotape of myself).

    I suspect that as Sophie gets older, she will get less inclined to mimic her teachers at all, so this problem may solve itself — but maybe I misunderstand DS. I’m nearly certain none of my 6th-graders ever acquired my nervous-sleeve-rolling habit from me. They did not want to become me, they wanted to become the opposite of me.

    Then, after I quit public-school-teaching, I took a job as a professional proofreader, where I learned what you probably already know: no one can proofread her own work well. We read our own work too quickly, knowing too much what we meant to write, and never quite seeing what we did write. That doesn’t stop me from being bothered by other’s mistakes. But my yoga teacher has turned down my offer to proofread her brochure for her for free, and so I just recently resisted the urge to make the same offer to my Soph’s nursery-school-director.

  6. What they said. All good answers.

    Ryan, my adult son with DS, always had a plastic drinking straw he’d fiddle with and/or chew, like some folks do toothpicks. This lasted about a decade; unsure when or why it stopped. Beats the heck out of my recovering nicotine addiction. Whatever.

    I have loved and respected several extraordinarily bright people who not only spelled poorly, but also could not have cared less! One of them will occasionally ask me how to spell this or that when she deems her writing to be sufficiently important.

    Best wishes to GIAPH family.

  7. No slack for the principal.
    (although annoying, I agree that the cracking knuckles could just be a nervous habit.)

  8. Hey friends — thank you for your wise words. Of course everyone makes typos, including me. But this was along the lines of “The teacher and me approved your request.” That’s not a typo, it’s horrifying. (To me.) this person is an authority figure in education, she can make an effort. And I have my share of nervous habits too! I do understand. But I can control myself (usually, anyway) from dropping F bombs in front of my kids. The special ed teacher should know how impressionable her students are. OK, harrumph over. And I am well aware that I’m likely overreacting. :)

  9. Oh, “the teacher and me approved your request” IS cringe-worthy. It’s ignorant. Such basic grammatical ignorance in an educator is dismaying. I take back everything I said: feel free to scorn this principal.

    But I’m curious: would you prefer “the teacher and myself approved your request”? Personally, I hate it when people who can’t tell direct from indirect pronouns just substitute “myself” for “me” or “I,” under the false assumption that “myself” sounds better — but at least it does show effort. I just get more bothered by that ignorant effort at pretension than a simple direct statement.

    On the positive side, I’m pretty sure that everyone learns grammar from their parents, so Sophie and Annabel are safe.

  10. Oooh, “the teacher and myself” — no. That’s a dealbreaker, too. I believe it’s technically incorrect along with sounding terrible.

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