Friday, January 9, 2015

Standardizing Emmy

Chris and I got called in to Em’s school today to talk to her teacher and pre-school director about some recent observations they have had regarding Emmy. When I got the email, asking if we had time to come in and talk, I totally panicked. Millions of questions ran through my head: Is Em acting out? Are other kids picking on her? Is she light years behind her peers in her academic development? Has she started screaming “I hate mommy!” and running through the school halls naked? Is she starting a coup d’etat among the four year olds?
As it turns out, they told us Emmy runs funny. Em’s teacher and pre-school director informed us that the PT worker at the school had noticed Ember turns her feet inward when she moves quickly. She also seems to have some balance issues (which we have witnessed around the house, too, sometimes). She also doesn’t hold a marker or scissors the way they want her to. She also doesn't finish puzzles as quickly as other kids...?
And because she does not run perfectly, or hold her marker or scissors perfectly, or balance perfectly, they are recommending that Em be screened by our school district to see if she qualifies for physical therapy.
My first reaction to this was absolute relief. What they were telling us was NOT any of the horror stories I had conjured up in my head. And they went on to tell us that emotionally and socially, Em is well-adjusted. She is doing really well with her learning, and the teacher has seen lots of development across the board as she has transitioned from a three year old to a four year old. Awesome.
She is just a little… klutzy? Unique? Not perfect?
And now I am wondering, a few hours later - is it necessary to screen Ember, just because she runs a little funny? Isn’t it okay that she holds her marker in a creative way? Aren’t these things she might just grow out of eventually? Aren’t these the little imperfections that make her unique, and cute, and maybe a little silly as a four year old? Do they need to be trained out of her?
I’m torn. On one hand, I don’t want Em to trip over her own feet all the time, of course. I would kind of like her to hold her marker the right way, the way the other kids do. And I am so appreciative that the school teachers and staff are REALLY observing and noticing Emmy and offering us their observations.
But on the other hand, I feel like this screening is just another way that the education system is set up to “standardize” our kids, making sure they all write the same way, read the same way, think the same way, and act the same way. It makes me think of my parents’ era, when being left-handed was thought of as a bad thing, something you needed to be trained out of.  Why? Was it SO necessary that there be NO left handed people in America? And now, is it SO necessary that my daughter run exactly how the other kids run, with their toes pointed straight forward?
Do I think the screening is going to harm Emmy? Of course not. Do I think it may actually be helpful? Kind of. I am curious to know what an objective “screener” sees in our daughter that we fail to see, because of our proximity to her and our love for her. But do I think Em really needs therapy to train her out of her slightly silly run? I’m not sold on it. Yet.


  1. I agree with everything you have said. Screening might not be necessary for her. Not every little girl or child is the same. Em is not falling down when she walks fast or runs quickly to see a friend or catch a leaf falling from a tree. My advice is to talk to Dr. Lemon and see what she has to say.

    I am here to help in any way I can be of help.

    Love, Baba

  2. The only thing that concerns me is the funny way of running. That could indicate some physiological issue more easily dealt at a younger age. She isn't the first, nor will she be the last person who has a unique style of holding a pencil, fork or other object in her hand. As for the finishing the puzzles slower than other children, I am sure that Em is writing and directing a play in her head assigning the puzzle pieces various roles in her unique creation. But the issue of running . . . just get it checked out. If it's nothing but her unique style, you have the option of not "correcting" it.