For one thing, though I added a few more details in the comments, in the post I didn't let anyone know enough about the situation for it to really make sense. And, what I realized from thinking over your comments, was that I was embarrassingly oblivious to actual situation myself.
The truth of it all lies in the child:
- A child who is presently trying to cope with an ENORMOUS boatload of shame (to be clarified in new blog....just trust me for now).
- A child who already struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder, and a need to be perfect....particularly in written work.
- A child who was a first-rate, self-motivated student until her school world (through no fault of her own) fell apart in the middle of sixth grade. Then her emotional stability collapsed, preventing her from going to school. It has been a long time since she did schoolwork and she is a much more fragile person now.
The truth of it lies in the school situation:
- FINALLY, only a couple of months ago, I got a home-based teacher set-up through our school district. Anastasia's emotional stability is so fragile that being in a group of peers is not possible for her at the moment.
- The teacher does not, as I would have presumed, assess the child and give assignments. No; she goes to the teachers in the large middle school that Anastasia presumably "attends" and brings the assignments that the students who are attending class are given.
- NOTE: Anastasia has not had ANY of the instruction related to said assignments. She has not has any instruction so far this year in those subjects.
- Craig or I sit in (or nearby) on the lessons; no instruction has been given by the home-teacher in any subject other than math. Anastasia's understanding of the math is better than the home-teacher's. (And mine.)
- The only thing Anastasia got was the assignment to write a research paper, using at least five sources, only two can be internet, on Mad Cow Disease. Include a Bibliography and footnotes.
- Anastasia has never written a paper like this; she has not had an opportunity to practice any of the steps for doing this.
- I can see how it seems to just make sense for her to get a "bad grade" on the thing....but how can she be expected to do something that she hasn't been taught? (Frankly, I didn't emphasize that in my post, because I wasn't really recognizing it, myself. I was just blindly accepting what the home-teacher gave her to do without thinking about it at all! Stupid.
- The entire situation is bizarre: a few weeks ago I got a form in the mail from her school (a school she has never entered, mind you). There were "comments" from each teacher. The oddity here is that all of the teachers (none of whom have ever seen or taught her) wrote comments - even comments such as: Anastasia shows creativity and initiative. Really? Only one of them wrote: Anastasia has missed too much class to judge. Yeah, I guess she has! The other five included comments that would lead anyone to believe they actually knew who she was. Including: Anastasia is very attentive in class. So, these people are going to give her a grade? That ought to be interesting.
The truth of it lies in my connection to the whole school thing:
- As is obvious from my not even considering that she didn't know how to do the assignment - I have not paid much attention to it.
- My only desire was for her to "finish it up", get it "over with".
- I was somehow attributing to her my own ability to throw something like this together in an afternoon.
- I was forgetting that she had not the faintest idea how to begin, let alone how to carry on.
- Honestly, though I said I'd help, I was not available to help due to end of the year work burdens. I was barely home, except to make dinner and take people to classes/appointments etc.
So, she shouldn't have been rude. I need to teach her how to wake me up to things, if I'm unaware, by sharing her thoughts and feelings about something in words, (not by tearing up mail.)
And, my little idea to give her a "reward" for doing the thing was STUPID. First of all, I know the child. Anastasia does not need rewards; she is one of those people who finds the reward in the completion. Secondly, the headphones are one of the strategies she uses to regulate herself - quietly listening to music, and retreating from the household noise.
I was simultaneously laying stress on her while telling her she couldn't have her stress-reliever.
As regards school - I am not going to expect her to do a paper, when no one has given her any instruction in how to do it. I have no problem telling the home-teacher that.
As regards communication - We do need to talk about how to talk to mama when mama is overwhelmed. Undoubtedly she thought I was too oblivious to be talked to but learning how to get through to someone who is "not getting it" is an important tool.
Parenting trauma is hard. Being my daughter is no picnic sometimes either.