stamp sheets

Lately my son has been getting in trouble at school.

And it isn’t big stuff.
Little silly boy things.
Like not staying in his seat at lunch. Being silly. Talking. Not getting his work done.
You know. Pretty much a typical day for me.

And every once in awhile I don’t mind and I know how to handle it.
No video games. No playing outside with the neighbors.
A stern talk about listening and respect.
And of course the assurance that I love him no matter what. No matter how many stamps or bad notes he gets.

But we are on day 4 of no stamps.
And he gets in the car and his little chin quivers.
And my tears fall before his do.
And we get home and he goes straight to his room and climbs into bed.
At 4:30 in the afternoon.
And I coax him out.
Assure him that we all have bad days. And that he can try again tomorrow.

But tomorrow it is the same thing.
And I wonder if I need to get sterner. Amp up the punishment.
Or pour on the love and reassurance that he is good even if he can’t sit still and keep his hands to himself.
Or both.

And I make a bigger deal out of it than it really is. My kid is just 5.
He still likes school. Is learning a ton. Has friends. Likes his teacher so much that he decided that he no longer wants to be a spy when he grows up but a kindergarten teacher.
He is silly and active and social.
And at the end of the day that doesn’t always get you a stamp.

But bigger questions arise. That have very little to do with him and lots to do with me.
Am I doing it wrong?
Does he have ADHD? And if so should I do really have to put him on meds?
Do I need to meet with his teacher?
Am I not punishing him enough?
Am I not rewarding him enough?
Should I be making him make his bed everyday?
Should I be making my own bed everyday?
Do I let him watch too many cartoons?
Is he just bored?
Am I too easy on him?
And my brain could go on....and at 2am sometimes it does.

And I know that I love my kid well. That part is easy. And frankly I don’t see how any one can’t. His big brown eyes. Silly grin. Infectious laugh. And mad dancing skills could win even the coldest heart over.

But loving well and parenting well aren’t the same thing. And that maybe I somehow missed the manual that all the other parents seemed to have gotten. (and yes, I have read more than my share of parenting books and they all contradict each other. Spank. Don’t spank. Be firm. Be gentle. Give them choice. Show them whose boss.). And so each additional day that my kid comes home in trouble I feel like I am failing him.

And I ask friend after friend what I should be doing.
And me and his dad talk about punishments and rewards and try and choose our battles and come up with a game plan to keep him out of trouble.
And I ask if I am doing it wrong. Or if I am making a big deal out of nothing.
And just like all those books, I seem to get a different answer with each person I talk to.

And so after about a half dozen conversations with a half dozen different answers. Some un-reassuring internet searches. And a few kind words.
Where I’ve landed is this:
I hope my kid grows up to be a lot of things. Kind. Smart. Honest. Generous. Brave. And most of all to love others well.
But, quiet, sits still, keeps his hands to his self, not so silly, walks appropriately in line…
I mean, I see the need for that in some settings, but they aren’t exactly high on things I hope my kid grows up to be list.
And I’ll keep working on the top list. And let his teacher worry about the bottom one.

(and unrelated....and should have posted this yesterday....but my friend Tina graciously used one of my posts over at the Laity Lodge family camp blog)


Kate said...

We have conversations about the rules that really matter - not hurting anyone, being respectful - and some that are less important - not talking at lunch - and how the first sret will get you in trouble at home too, but not so much with the second set. But I have a child who is nearly petrified by the rules, and I am sure I am doing things wrong.

Parenting is hard.

Jennifer Green said...

Some kids are bad kids...but not Big O. I could tell you all the bad stuff that happens at Natalie's class. O's scissors aren't in time out for the rest of the year because he cut another kid's Josh Hamilton shirt, are they? O didn't break that same girl's water bottle by knocking it off onto the floor, did he?

And he's not getting in fights and beat up or bullied, right? He is not being a bully, right?

Kindergarten is hard on kids--I think they are stern on the little ones to try to whip them in to shape they don't have a bunch of 4th graders who don't know how to walk in a line to lunch or use their inside voices. And sometimes the teacher who has too many kids who push her buttons and make her exhausted and all of a sudden, things that were not a big deal yesterday become a big deal today and yesterday's getting up at lunch was not so bad, but today it is the thing that pushes her over the edge and makes her want to show the others to sit the heck down for once. and maybe O's being silly is cute on Tuesday, but after hearing 10 whiny girls complaining and crying and being whiny girls, the Wednesday-silly is stamp-worthy.

From a mom who has had a hard year (not this year--last year)...I remember the feeling of "will this year ever end". This week is the 100th day--we are nearly done with the year and hopefully next year he'll have grown up and settled in to school a little more and school will have settled in to him, too.

MoserUpdates said...

Why don't you role play with O? That may help him understand a little better. Eli and I do that sometimes. He practices being the teacher and I disrupt...that way he understands how it feels to the teacher when he's disrupting the class, causing her to have to stop what she's doing and repeat the rule. And then I'm the teacher and Eli practices sitting in the seat, or following my directions, etc.

We recently had to have a conversation about rough housing in class...the only place we're allowed to rough house is at home. Not at school, and not in church, which was reinforced when he tackled a friend in the hallway of church last week!

I look forward to these conversations with him. I figure the rougher we have it now, the better he'll be able to handle himself as an adult. Teach him that obeying is a form of respecting the teacher. There are reasons for her rules, and sometimes we don't understand them right now. Just as sometimes we don't understand where God is taking us in our lives, but we are required to obey Him out of respect.

Obedience, sitting still...all those things are learned, not inherent. Even the calmest kids need direction with those things. With you and the teacher working together to help him, he'll get better at it in no time.

You're doing a great job, Michelle. Stop doubting yourself and stop reading books. It sounds like you might have information overload! Dig in to The Book, Pray and trust that God will give you the tools and wisdom you need to guide your kids to where He wants them.

spaghettipie said...

Love where you came to on this - and sad I wasn't wise enough to give you such sage advice! With parenting like this, he'll come out just right.

the_Tmac said...

love this, michelle. your dreams for him are beautiful, way better than stamps. he is doing what boys his age are SUPPPOSED to do, learning by moving and playing - and you are doing just what moms are supposed to do! love your thoughts and honesty.