Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Ugh, Ugh, and Ugh Again

The discussions over at Flea's and Profgrrrrl's have reminded me that one of the reasons I started this thing was to work through some of the challenges of divorce, new-single-parenthood, and dealing with the Boy's behavioral problems--and maybe get some feedback from other people who might have an inkling of what those things feel like. I intend to write about these things, I really do--but then I get tired and find it more entertaining to research the Egg Song or post photos of my kids (or delete photos of my kids) or just be a smart ass in general. Entertaining to who, I'm not sure... But here it goes, and it's a long one (and kid related), so feel free to bail now.

The SB is out tonight, and she is not happy.

A note came home with the Boy today. His version of the story is that at recess, a friend pushed him onto a snowpile, which they're supposed to stay off of. When a teacher saw him and called him on it, he said it wasn't his fault. She kept saying it was, he kept saying it wasn't. Finally, he yelled that it wasn't. She took him to another teacher, who said, "This wide mouth owes you an apology." This is specifically what this little form note said:

Your child, ____________, broke one of the school's code of conduct rules today. [Check mark next to "Respect"] for [and this part was filled in] arguing with several teachers at recess.

And this is what goes through my mind:

Good for him.

First off, no, I have not gotten the teachers' story yet. I called his teacher but she was on her way out to another appointment; we're going to talk in the morning. I will say right off the bat that I do not dislike this woman, but I do not like her teaching style. I realize that she's overwhelmed (24 kindergarteners and only 1 hour of para assistance per day, plus whatever parent volunteers show up). I also realize that the stupid No Child Left Unscarred requirements mean that she has to tear through material left and right. But from my observations while volunteering in her class, she does not have the emphasis on positive reinforcement that I wish she had, and she comes across as very overwhelmed and hence rigid, which I'm sorry, is the kiss of death when you're dealing with my son (and not the best method of cultivating any child, IMHO). Yeah, I'm not a teacher, so take it with a grain of salt.

Second, if I find out he was calling the teacher names or something like that, of course that's a problem. He needs to be respectful of other people. He needs to follow the school's rules. He needs to follow instructions. But I'm getting this bad feeling that when there's a situation where somebody's going to get into trouble--it's going to be him, and not necessarily because he's a trouble maker. I'm getting the feeling that his teacher expects him to be difficult.

And here's the big thing on my mind. I was a very compliant child. I always did as I was told, and I never talked back. Guess what happened when I turned 12 and my mother's pervert husband decided to get fresh with me?

I was a very compliant child.

I started a discussion with the Boy about the need to do what your teachers ask you to do, the first time they ask, and without talking back. I said, "I know sometimes their decisions might not seem fair. If that's the case, what do you think you should do?" (Talk with the teacher after you've complied, talk to me or your father after school...) His response: "Do whatever they tell me to do anyway, no matter what."

Hell, no. No, no, no. I do not want my kid to join the ranks of human beings who do what they're told, whether or not it's fair, whether or not it's just, because someone in authority has told him to do it. Pardon my french, but fuck. that.

I also know my son. He's going through a lot of challenges. He's probably ADHD; he might be bipolar. (His father has just been diagnosed, and that raises the possibility.) He does things that worry me. I'm not naive, and I'm not in denial. But I will not tell him that he's supposed to take the whipping no matter what. I'm sure he'd end up being a very nice little citizen. What worse thing could I do to him?


Laura said...

Psycho, I totally agree with you. Compliant is not necessarily good. I, too, was a compliant child and I can sometimes see the bad effects it had on me. Victim of sexual harrassment twice and sometimes a general non-assertive attitude. I've gotten over that a little with help from Mr. GM. It's funny, isn't it, how we kind of instinctively take our children's side? I have a tendancy to trust what my child says and I've always said that I trust what they say and if I find out I've got reasons not to then I'll be more angry than I would be at whatever it was that they did. Did that make any sense? I'm up way too late. I think kindergarten is tough without a really good teacher. We got lucky both times around and had very understanding teachers. My son would cry at the drop of a hat and his teacher was good about not pushing him to be "macho" but encouraging him to grow up a little. He's still a sensitive little guy, but he's learned when it's "safe" to break down and when it's not. I tend to feel too that schools don't make it easy for us to partner with the teachers. Somehow it always ends up being us vs. them.

zCommentor said...

After surviving public school and force busing, I know that my experiences changed me. I wish I could meet the person that I could have been.

I now have a son and do not look forward to him going to school.

Maybe it would be best to instruct him to comply and then inform you about each event that he disagrees? This would keep you informed and help him pick his battles. Battles with both peers and authority.


Psycho Kitty said...

Thaks for the ideas, you two.
I'm actually diplomatic in person, and I'm going to sincerely listen to the teacher side of the issues. And try to work with his teacher to find the best solution. I think part of life is dealing with situations and people that present a challenge, so certainly we need to help the Boy learn how to do that. It's finding a balance between standing up for him and letting him learn what life's like. And believe me, so I don't go around blindly asserting that he can do no wrong--oh boy, can that kid do wrong! We'll see what type of information I get tomorrow.

Krupskaya said...

I'm sorry, this is belated.

I read a story awhile ago about a study that looked at how kids are convinced to go away with strangers. As it turned out, kids who are told to obey no matter what will much more willingly get into a car with strangers than kids who are allowed and encouraged to make decisions for themselves.

So I think you're right on. You're doing a hell of a job.

children with adhd said...

Hi PK,

Love the fun blog, came across it while having a break. Ta.