Isaac was put in time out in school last week for not listening to his teacher… and I actually smiled with joy when the teacher told me. I’m sure she thought I was crazy, but I just couldn’t help myself.
Before I had kids, if someone had told me that I would be happy that my child misbehaved, I would have laughed in their face. You see, I am one of those moms who believes that it is more important to be a parent than a friend.
I encourage and help my children – and we have a lot of fun, but I don’t let them get away with much. I don’t want my kids to grow up thinking the world revolves around them. I want to break the cycle of entitlement.
As parents, we usually take pride in our kid’s good behavior and lament the bad. We spend time bemoaning the terrible twos (which most moms agree extend far beyond the second year of life). We speak of ourselves as saints for putting up with the tantrums, shoving, inability to share, etc. But, the truth is, all of those things can actually be signs of typical child development.
Now, I am not a child development expert. I don’t know exactly how much shoving is OK, or how many times a child can bite other children before you need to consult an expert. All I know is that my son didn’t do many of those kinds of things growing up, and we did, in fact, consult some experts.
For years Isaac played on the fringes, spending more time watching the other kids than playing with them. He seemed to enjoy himself and after play dates or birthday parties, he would talk non-stop about the other kids and what they did.
Isaac is an extremely bright boy. For example, shortly after he turned 3, he could name all 50 states and identify them on the map. He could also carry on lengthy conversations with adults, but had to be prompted to even say “hi” to his friends.
Because of this gap between his intellectual and social skills, we had him evaluated by the school district and other experts for speech delays, signs of autism, and other issues. The only developmental concerns that they identified were moderate sensory sensitivities and speech delays – both of which have been largely resolved through speech therapy and occupational therapy.
After a rough start at a Montessori school, we put Isaac in a more traditional preschool. He loves it, and the daily reports have been excellent. Oddly, however, I found myself a bit concerned that the daily reports were a bit too perfect. One of the teachers gushes over his good behavior and says that Isaac is one of the kids that they point to as an example because he listens and follows directions so well.
Most parents would be thrilled, right? Not me! I mean he is 4 years old… he should be misbehaving. Goodness knows he misbehaves at home!
That is why I was thrilled when he got in trouble. Not only did he not listen, but it was a “group revolt” against the teachers. He was playing with a whole group of kids who weren’t listening! How awesome is that?
I know that I am not the only parent with these feelings. A friend has a son who, at almost 4, still let’s other kids take his toys without a word. Whenever that happens, they encourage him to “fight” for his toys. They tell him to use a firm voice to say, “NO” to the other kid and then refuse to let go of the toy – even if that means engaging in a tug-of-war.
I know that someday, I will get sick of hearing about Isaac’s bad behavior, but for now, I am going to relish in it.
Have you had a moment where you were proud of your child for behaving in a way that most would consider problematic? Do you think that kids should be getting in trouble in school occasionally – if for no other reason than to prove that they are, in fact, kids?