Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Ask the genius


Let's just say it flat out: since school started, Ike's been a pill.

He's currently screaming in his bed when he should be asleep. Yesterday morning when I told him to do his chores he looked me straight in the eye, crumbled up the chore chart and threw it at me, the kindergarten equivalent of an F-you if I ever saw one. He's been sneaking out to play when he was told to clean his room, he's hit poor Maggie a few times (the only one too wimpy to hit back), and just generally been a perfect poster child for birth control.

And I've been frustrated and annoyed and tried various forms of discipline (after the Chore Chart Incident I had the good sense to squeak out DADDY! and just walk away) and of course, I've tried to figure out what he's been eating. Is it the apples? I pondered and kvetched and prayed.

And then I remembered.

I was a pre-kindergarten teacher. It was the parent-teacher conference with Stephanie, a mom who grew to be a friend. "Josh is just doing great," I said. "He sits quietly in circle, he's polite, he doesn't bother the other kids. He's one of my easiest students."

Stephanie stared at me like I'd sprouted a unibrow before her eyes. "But at home he's a MONSTER! How can he be good for you? He's TERRIBLE! He fights with me, he won't do anything I say, he's mean to his brother and sister, he's awful!"

I went on to explain that he was probably awful at home because, in addition to his poor little body getting used to the exhaustion of school, home was safe. After being a good boy all day at school, he could let it all hang out. He knew his mom loved him unconditionally; he also knew that his teacher did not. He had to perform to earn my approval. But Mom was going to love him no matter what. Misbehaving at home actually was a good sign! of security! and being loved!

Essentially, he held in his farts all day at school, but as soon as he got home, he let 'em rip.
Right in his mom's face.
Cause that's why moms get paid the big bucks. 

Wasn't I just so stinking smart back then? Before I had kids? I was a child development geeeeenius. And a skinny one at that.

Smart Childless Skinny Missy sat Frustrated Mommy Missy down and reminded her of all this wisdom today. Ike's in all day kindergarten. New teacher, new kids, new school, everything is new. He doesn't know what's expected of him, and that's scary. He's never had to behave, repeatedly, for so long in his life. But he's doing great. He's gotten a stamp every single day! Better to misbehave at home that at school, right?! Hopefully he'll calm down as he gets used to the changes.

This afternoon, on Smart Childless Skinny Missy's advice, I gave him more grace, more cuddles, more praise, more encouragement, more giggles, and more grace. And we had a really good afternoon. Yes he's screaming now but let's focus on the positive.

So I just want you to know that, if your kid has driven you to cry out to Jesus in the couple of weeks since school started, Frustrated Mommy Missy will be happy to pour you a glass of wine and compare stories and suggest you tune in to some Beverly Hills Nannies to ease the pain.

Smart Childless Skinny Missy, on the other hand, is detached and objective. She has no pride tied up in your kid's behavior, she never takes it personally when they act up, and she remembers that all little kids are inherently cute.

I suggest you call on her instead.



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