With school starting again, I have been a little anxious about how my youngest will fare out back in a traditional group setting. Tiny Man is best one-on-one and gets bored easily. He is, as I have told his teacher, THAT child in the classroom-- the one that stands out, the one that doesn't conform, and often cluelessly so. I understand the exasperation of his teachers, as I am drawn to that point myself some days; it is hard to be THE mother of THAT child. At least now, with some of his acts of defiance in the past, I can find those things amusing.
Late last year, I was called by the assistant principal because my five-year-old son had, according to her report, kicked and punched three kids while waiting in the lunch line. It wasn't the first call I had, and wouldn't be even close to the last. When I picked him up from school, I told him that sometimes I was embarrassed to be his mother.
"Why?" Tiny whined.
"You beat up three kids at school today!" I snapped. My son's brow furrowed in a moment of confusion and he quickly corrected me, "It was TWO!"
You see my point. Months before, I had gotten a tired and irritable email from his teacher who wrote to document all the craziness he had performed that day, and then added that right at the moment she was writing, he was flicking balls of foil around the room and refusing to follow the Spanish teacher's directions. He had worn everyone completely out.
"This is precisely why I don't teach anymore," I responded. "Good luck with that."
Honestly, we worked very hard with his teacher to help shape my son's mischief into bouts of productivity and compliance. For every good effort he made at school, we rewarded it at home. For his more disruptive episodes, we withdrew privileges. And yes, headway was made. This year, we have taken a more proactive approach knowing what we know about our son and what he tends to do, such as why, for example, he might have lost bus riding privileges last year.
"Son," I said on the first morning of school. "Keep it in your pants on the bus. Understand?"
Tiny heaved a sigh of massive resignation. "Okaaaayyyyy."