I arrived one evening after a long day to find out my little guy had a rough day just two weeks after starting at a new daycare. The teacher didn’t say what happened, but the stern look on her face and my son’s not so innocent look of “What did I do?” had me concerned. You would have thought I was in trouble.
My stomach started to rumble, and I could feel a headache coming on as we walked down to the director’s office. The director politely greeted me as we entered her office. Earlier in the day, they were on the playground, and my son tried to physically kick another little girl off the slide. When the teacher removed him, he screamed and hit her. He was sent to the director’s office to talk about it. According to the director, he calmed down appropriately in her office, answered questions, and said I’m sorry. That’s all she needed. She wasn’t concerned. It was over. Well, at least it was over for the two of them…
I laugh now thinking of all the things that went through my mind two months ago when this took place. I’m sure it has a lot to do with my personality and being a first-time mom doesn’t help. I lost sleep thinking they might try to kick him out of the school. Or, will they see him as the aggressive little boy? He had only been at the school for two weeks when the incident occurred.
I was a little over the top. No, not a little…a lot over the top. I went over the playground tussle several times in my mind and probably more than a few times with my son. My husband and I discussed expected behavior with him and talked about the consequences of bad behavior. I think we sufficiently covered the basis.
In the weeks to follow, I reminded him of our talk as we drove up to school. I know he got sick of me reminding him because before I could say it, he recited, “No hitting, no kicking, no spitting, no screaming.” Pick-ups from school initially provoked anxiety. Would there be another bad report? I checked school messages twice and looked closely at the pictures they sent throughout the day to look at his interaction with the other kids.
But somehow, in the midst of all the talking, all the checking and follow-up, I didn’t stop and think that WE ALL HAVE BAD DAYS! Days where we get frustrated, act out, and do things we know we shouldn’t. Yes, even a three-year-old is allowed to have a bad day!
This wasn’t a kid who repeatedly was in trouble. He’s never hit another student, let alone a teacher. Maybe he just had a bad day. He wanted what he wanted, and in his three-year-old mind, this was the quickest and easiest way to get it. It didn’t mean I was a bad parent. Nor did it mean he was going to be the class bully. He just made a bad choice that day. We have to deal with it for sure, but I need to relax.
Stop the Worrying
Two weeks later while at work, I received a picture from the school. My son was fixing the shoes of the same little girl he had kicked off the slide a few weeks back. The teacher commented next to the picture, “Thanks for being a good friend.” It was tender. Might sound crazy, but I teared a little and had a sigh of relief.
Our work as parents is never over. Most days our kids will be the kind, compassionate people we train them to be, but every once in a while, they may act out and hurt another kid. It’s an opportunity for everyone to grow. We teach them what’s right, model it, and reteach when needed.
I hope it won’t happen again, but it might. I hope to react a little differently. Maybe even more like my son. Admit there’s a problem, change my behavior, and move on. Parenting is much like childhood; we’re both learning and growing daily.