A few weeks ago, I wrote this post about my son’s first week at kindergarten.
To be totally honest, I thought that, by week 4, he’d be smoothly sailing.
Uh uh. Nope.
Truth is, he’s having a hard time with this kindergarten thing.
I mean, he’s mostly ok. Making friends, learning the routine and he’s just fine academically. All good stuff for which I’m incredibly grateful.
But he’s getting into trouble by his teacher every third day. For wiggling. Not paying attention at work time. Talking to friends at his table group. Acting silly. Making fart sounds at inappropriate times. (When IS the appropriate time, by the way?)
Today, I got this.
See that? That’s the first time I’ve ever received a note home from a teacher about one of my FOUR kids. I have four kids, and this is the first time! I never really thought I was the “note home from the teacher” sort of mom.
Turns out, I so am.
And that paper is the physical manifestation of my failure as a parent. Or, at least that’s how it feels. My face actually burned and turned bright red when I saw it.
I know all the rational stuff, by the way. I know he’s five. He just turned five a couple weeks ago, he’s almost a year younger than most of his classmates. I know school is new and full-day kindergarten is hard for all of the kids. I know boys wiggle. I know he’s normal. I know all these things.
But, that note.
“The following school expectations were violated…”
That note that says I’m bad. My kid is bad. My kid isn’t perfect.
Look at him. Doesn’t he look angelic and obedient?
This is what people see on the outside. At the gym, on my social media channels, at playdates and birthday parties.
What they don’t see is the notes home from the teacher (well, until now) or the meltdowns he saves just for me at the end of the day. They don’t see the whining and the asking the same question over and over, fifty different ways, trying to wear me down.
They don’t see repeated disobedience that requires consequence. They don’t see him lying to keep himself out of trouble.
They don’t see that on Facebook. Not as much or as completely as I should if I value authenticity. But I fight my need for perfection. So hard. I want to at least look like a decent parent.
To be totally honest, I don’t know what else to do with this behavior issue at school. I’ve used up all my parenting tricks. I’m up Shit Creek without my Parenting Paddle. (Wait, maybe a paddle? No, no paddle.)
And the not knowing what to do is really the heart of this panic.
The shame sucks, yes, but not knowing what to do is such a trigger for me. I can usually figure out what to do. And then I can execute the eff out of just about anything.
But I’m at my wit’s end. My wit has actually ended. I’m sitting on the end of it like it’s a pier and I’m dangling my feet off.
So I rage against this uncertainty and find myself wanting to use all my normal numbing techniques, which include Cheez-Its and Lululemon purchases. And I can do that. But it’s only going to make me feel worse.
And yet, there’s a still, small voice that is telling me I need to learn what this child is here to teach me. That I need to learn to be ok with parenting a child who doesn’t always make my life easy. A child who pushes boundaries and tests patience.
I need to realize that with that comes a kid with fierce independence and opinions and sense of self. One with an out-sized imagination and a laugh-out-loud sense of humor.
Maybe I’m supposed to be a different kind of mom this time. Maybe it doesn’t look like perfect.
But maybe that’s exactly right.