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Where do I start? School trouble mainly!

(24 Posts)
Rhubarb Tue 18-Jan-05 13:59:12

Hello! It's ages since I've been on Mumsnet, no access to a pc except at the school where I work and then I'm usually too busy trying to pretend to be a teacher! But the students have exams this week so I'm free to ask your invaluable advice.
Some of you know that we moved to France in July and our dd who is 4, started school in November once we got settled in a place. It has been hard from day one but it doesn't seem to be getting any better. Just before Christmas she was ill, very ill, and came out with a nasty rash on that space between her upper lip and her nose (yes I know it has a name but I can't think of it!). The illness draggged on and on for 4 weeks, she just seemed to get one thing on top of another. It didn't help that she has been plunged into a school where she doesn't understand the teachers or children, nor can she communicate properly. She is a shy child and finds it very hard to deal with other children at the best of times. The school have been great, but she still goes in tears every morning. She grinds her teeth constantly at night and the nasty rash is still there and refuses to go (stress also?). It doesn't help that my dh is quite depressed at the moment and he seems to wind her up. If she doesn't do what he says straight away, he will prod, push and poke her until she screams. He reacts to her and I have pleaded with him to be kind to her, but they clash so much and he admits that he finds her hard to deal with. She is a little disrespectful towards him, but fine with me, I think this is because he shows no respect to her. But I cannot tell him this because then I am undermining his authority, so I just have to watch these awful senarios unfold and I cannot intervene because then he accuses me of siding with her and having no respect for him.
I think I have a very sad little girl on my hands the guilt is incredible. I have spoken to the school and they are very kind to her, but she is still so miserable there. So does anyone have any suggestions that I can try that would make her life just a little bit more bearable?
Thank you!

Angeliz Tue 18-Jan-05 14:05:13

Firstly i think you must speak to your husband about the feeling that he doesn't respect dd. You won't be undermining him if it's not done infront of her. I reaaly think you should as it sounds like she has alot to deal with and neds both your support.
My dd is nearly 4 and quite argumentative of late but i just have to remind myself that i'm the adult, it's SO much harder for her to control her temper than me.
I also thought the rash could be stress realted.
As for the School thing, i lived in Greece for 10 years and this British couple moved over with a 6 year old girl and put her into the Greek School. She was opposite where i worked and i'd go and check on her as she HATED it. Within a few months she was practically fluent in Greek and loving it. Hope this gives you some encouragment+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Angeliz Tue 18-Jan-05 14:06:20

Nice to see you gaian BTW+

Rhubarb Tue 18-Jan-05 14:11:35

Thank you! I keep hoping that things will improve for her at school once she learns the language, but the process is a lot slower than I thought it would be, perhaps because of her shyness she is finding it harder to learn the language?
I also spoke with my dh this morning after her practically dragged her screaming and crying into the car for school and then yelled at me for crying too! He just said that the problem is a discipline one and he is fed up of her ignoring him and not doing as she is told. I pointed out the lack of respect thing but he came back with the line that the tougher he is the more respect she will have for him. Which is complete bollocks of course! But I have to tread carefully as he is depressed and he takes everything as a personal attack on him. I am between a rock and a hard place!

Sonnet Tue 18-Jan-05 14:16:36

Hi Rhubarb - Has your DD opened up to what she dson't like at school/France?
Does she miss her old school/friends?
what language help is she having - are there maybe some classes she could attendto make it easier?
could you invite some og her class mates round to play on a regular basis?
Have you settled and are happy - she could pick up on vibes?
How is DH? - is she picking up "unhappy" vibes form him
Sorry questions, questions....just trying to understand the scenario..

KatieinSpain Tue 18-Jan-05 14:23:39

This is a shot in the dark - could your DD do less hours at school until she was happier there? I'm not even sure if this would be counterproductive. Can you build her a social circle? Could you invite one other child home? Do any of the other teachers have kids of the same age - or could they suggest someone? Are there any other English speakers locally? Is there any activity she really enjoys - swimming, soft play, riding where she'd naturally meet others? Sorry, I bet you've already done all this.

It sounds really tough going. My friends children started Spanish school around that age too and she said initially they came home and only wanted to switch off but that soon changed. Hope it improves.

marialuisa Tue 18-Jan-05 14:28:28

Rhubarb, if your DD is very shy she may well have found starting school traumatic regardless of any other language/relocation traumas. my dsis is a similar age and has only just started talking at school despite being there since September!

I don't mean to sound harsh but I think you need to sort out your DH's attitude, he may be depressed but that's no excuse for behaving as he is toward your DD, IMHO the shouting and bawling is probably exacerbating her upset. if school are being kind and supportive then she needs the same message from home. Yes, she has to go to school and that may mean bodily carrying her in, but ranting at her is totally unnecessary.

Would second Sonnet's suggestion of maybe asking school if there's anyone who could come and visit on a "playdate" or any activities your DD could join in.

Rhubarb Tue 18-Jan-05 14:29:04

Hi, thanks for replying. She does have a friend of sorts, and we have invited him round and she goes round to his house. There is also a little girl at the school who speaks English. The trouble is that once she gets to school she just withdraws and won't play with anyone, so the other children just go off and leave her. We've tried bringing her home for lunch, but that's not always easy and then of course she doesn't want to go back in the afternoon. If she has a couple of days off that makes it worse too.
She probably is picking up vibes in the house and although I do try and keep things happy for her, and we try to do fun things at the weekend, it's not easy with a depressed husband. I sometimes wonder if I shouldn't just give up, relent, and take them all back to England!

Rhubarb Tue 18-Jan-05 14:30:40

Have to go and teach now but will come back on Friday to see what advice you can give. It may be that nothing can be done, but it's just nice to have your support and a sympathetic ear!

tweetyfish Tue 18-Jan-05 14:50:07

This may not help you but when i was 9 my parents moved to england from belgium... I could only say "cat" and "dog" and found school absolutely terrifying - the children were all trying to tell me we had swimming the following day by doing these grand gestures... The good luck i had manifested itself in a dutch teacher ( i could speak some dutch back then) and she took me under her wing and taught me bits of english. In 3 months i was fluent and school no longer seemed so hard. I think your little girl will find it gets slightly easier as she learns the lingo. You have lots of hugs from me, having been there i know how tough it is.

Sonnet Tue 18-Jan-05 15:14:44

Can I ask why your DH is depressed?.

Hang on in there - it takes time to settle anywhere, let alone another country with a language barrier.

How old is your DD - was she at school in UK or is it a double first for her.
I think that I would also encourge outside school activity - swimming lessons, horseriding, music sport etc - you've probably done this already.

Keep smiling!!

FrenchGirl Wed 19-Jan-05 10:41:01

Hi Rhubarb, nice to see you again! Don'thave much advice re your dh, is he working at the moment? How's his french?
your dd will be fine, I do understand it's upsetting for you at the moment, but not all children learn languages the same way, it sounds like she is absorbing a lot of french at the moment, and one day, she will start speaking it when she feels more comfortable. Does she enjoy any tv programme, or CDs? It's a good start that she has a little friend to play with, she will make more! It took my dd a long time to get used to other children, although she was comfortable with adults. Now she is very comfortable with both.
I guess your main concern is your dh. How are you finding france? Like you imagined it would be, harder, different?
I wish I had a magic wand to get your dh to grab this opportunity for a new life with both hands and go for it....
love to you and bisous to your dd

Cam Thu 20-Jan-05 10:38:57

Hello rhubarb, am I remembering wrongly or have you also got a young baby? If so, then maybe your dh expects dd to behave "properly" as she's the eldest? maybe he thinks of her as so much older than the baby that he forgets she's actaully still a little girl?

Avalon Thu 20-Jan-05 10:59:14

Rhubarb, I've had problems with my 5 year old not wanting to go to school. Can you, say, keep her off school for a couple of afternoons as long as she goes quietly into school the rest of the time? Not a long term solution - but just gives her a respite while she's settling in.

I agree with FrenchGirl that she is absorbing lots of French at the moment - just as we have to learn our native language before we can start to speak it. Can you boost this by getting a French native speaker to give her a one to one lesson - say half an hour - once a week?

Good luck.

tigermoth Thu 20-Jan-05 22:06:10

I get the impression you're feeling caught in the middle, between your dd and your dh.

It sounds like things are reasonably ok from your point of view - the teaching job, the house, being in France generally - the problems are more with your dd settling down at school and your dh being depressed. I can't offer any advice about your dd, but reading these other messages, they seem full of hope that given time your dd will start speaking French and enjoy school more - and soon it will be warmer with more to do outside.

Hope your dh's depression is not dragging you down too much. My dh is prone to bouts of depression and can be unbelievably stubborn when he is. All I can do is keep giving him fresh ideas, presenting him with options and leads to follow, sometimes doing the ground work as well. He started a new job six months ago (a job I first bought to his attention TWO years ago!!). He really likes it and he feels valued. As his esteem has shot up so his depression has shrivelled away. The depression is still there as it is part of him, but it is not so apparent - being busy helps him.

Dh had a tricky relationship with our youngest son, (still does sometimes) but seems more relaxed with him now. But I don't know if that is to do with my son getting older or my husband feeling happier in himself. Or both.

I don't know what your dh is doing in France, but how do you think this is affecting his relationship with your dd? What makes him so set on the idea of disciplining her? Does he feel no one is listening to him or feels he's a bit powerless, somehow? Also, does he see many familes in action at the moment? do you mix with other families much? Perhaps he has this mistaken idea that other children always obey their dads first time.

I don't know what to suggest, but wanted to say something supportive to you. Nice to see you here and keep posting more on this if it helps.

Earlybird Thu 20-Jan-05 22:27:54

Sorry to hear that it's hard at the moment. In my experience, it's always hard to move to a new place - and you're in a completely new country! Before the move, there's a period of excitement, planning, anticipation. Then after the move, there is alot to discover, experience and adjust to. Once the initial excitement is over (a few months in usually), there is inevitably a period of panic/depression and "oh my god, what have we done". If you can, you must simply take it in stride and have faith that it will get better given time. I know that is hard with a dd who doesn't have the emotional resilience to cope yet. Also, think your dh could be more helpful and supportive - it's got to be so much harder for all of you if being at home feels like being under seige instead of a safe place of refuge.

Can you take some time off to do something fun together as a family? Might take the pressure off temporarily, and give you all a fresh start. It can feel hellish when nothing is "normal", easy or familiar.

I'd mentally set myself the goal of finishing off the school year and then re-evaluate if things are getting better as you all adjust, or if you need to reconsider your choice. For what it's worth, personally I have found that it is about 18-24 months before I start to feel "at home" in a new city. It really does take time and patience to build a new life in a new place. Best of luck, and good to hear from you again. Keep us informed.

Rhubarb Fri 21-Jan-05 11:50:48

Thanks everyone for your words of encouragement! To answer questions. Yes, it is a double whammy for dd, this being her first school.
Dh is not doing much at the mo which is why he is depressed, he is looking for work but one the other hand doesn't want to take any old job just for the sake of it.
The language is hard, much harder than I imagined it to be. We are pretty much immersed but I still think my French is shit.

From what you all seem to be saying is that once dd has the language cracked it will get easier. Thanks for the personal experiences, it's nice to know that other people have been there as kids and gotten over it. I am hoping it might even boost her confidence a bit.

As for dh, it is a problem and I try to help as much as I can, but he is homesick and misses his family and friends. I should really come on MN more often, I'd forgotten just how much help it really is sharing a problem like this.

Thanks a lot guys, I'll let you know how it goes.

galaxy Fri 21-Jan-05 11:54:04

Hi Rhurbarb - it's great to see you posting!

I wait for your news eagerly as we are still weighing up the pros and cons of moving to France ourselves but with ds just turned 12, th longer we leave it, the harder it will be.

Where have you settled btw?

Pamina3 Fri 21-Jan-05 12:05:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

batters Fri 21-Jan-05 12:38:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Rhubarb Tue 25-Jan-05 13:41:34

Thanks again! Galaxy we are settled (I say that hopefully!) in a place called Langoiran which is 25k South East of Bordeaux. It's very nice, just a little village really on the edge of the river Gironde. I would say go for it, but expect a lot of hard work. However the results are worth it, we are desperately hoping we can stay, we just need dh to find himself a job!

She hasn't cried at school this last week, but her face is still the same, blotches all over it and her ecxma (sp?) is worse than ever. I'm frightened that it's just too much stress for a little one. But I think that once she cracks the language she will find it a lot better, as we all will for that matter!

Dh is exploring a few job leads today and is hoping to get ds into creche for the morning, so I shall see how he gets on. Ds should be bi-lingual as he's only one and will hopefully speak both languages.

It's bloody freezing here at the mo though!

galaxy Tue 25-Jan-05 13:46:19

Hi Rhubarb,

Hope dh can sort work out...are you teaching?

I've just landed a new job in the UK at the same time as the in-laws have foundwhat seems to be a perfect house and business in Limousin...sod's law. It's an up and running business and is one of dh's hobbies so sounds perfect. Will still pursue the new job of course and see what happens.

I'm sure your dd will settle. We met a few English families who were living close to the in-laws when they were in Duras and they had young children. It takes a while, but then they just seem to settle in.

When's your TV screening due to be on?

Galaxy x

galaxy Tue 25-Jan-05 13:47:38

As for the weather, in-laws headed down through France last week on their way to Portugal (via Spain) and we got a call on Saturday saying they were nearly turning round and coming home again. They were hit by storms and almost lost the caravan.

ourdarling Wed 26-Jan-05 11:29:02

Dear Rhubarb - last summer we had just moved house when my husband was made redundant, a dark cloud came over our house and he went into deep depression. The first thing l insisted he did was go to see our gp. The gp advised him that the emotions my husband was feeling was equal to grief. The same grief you feel when someone dies, move house, devorse or loose a job. So my husband ticked two from that list. Today he is all sorted, but the strain he put on me and the mood swings he would have with dd 4.6 was sometimes unacceptable. You need to address your dh first and maybe he needs to visit his family here just to remind himself why you are all there. He needs to see a gp to talk about his feelings. And he needs to remember that he is the adult and your dd needs him to be her tower of strenght at the moment. She will settle down at school, but she needs her home environment sorted out. l do hope your husband finds a job quickly to give him back the male pride thing, but until then do talk to him daily when dd is in bed to go over the day. If there are issues regarding his parenting to dd let him talk it out and at the end say 'now tell me 3 good things you like about her' and remind him she needs him so much. Good luck.

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