Last week, I shared how we had to lay the gauntlet down with our daughter recently in order to preserve our own sanity (see here). Today, we shift to my son in this second installment about being mean.
The other day, we got an email from my son’s kindergarten teacher. Yes, an email. From the teacher. If I’ve learned anything in the last 8 months of elementary school, it’s that an email from the teacher is almost never a good thing.
Unfortunately, today, [your son] hit another student in the chest in the hallway bathroom. When I talked to the two boys, [your son] said he hit him for no reason. I am not sure where this is coming from, but [your son] knows to keep his hands to himself. If you would please speak to him, I would greatly appreciate it.
Now, my son is a sweet kid. Really. He’s not violent. He rarely does anything bad. He’s almost too good, if there is such a thing. But he’s also a boy and, sometimes, he does stupid things that boys do – like pop his friend in the bathroom for no apparent reason.
Some parents would probably just ignore the situation, chalk it up to boys being boys, and move on.
We are not some parents.
While we recognize that he is a 5 1/2 year old boy and is apt to do things that 5 1/2 year old boys do, we also recognize that he needs to learn that (a) school is not a place where you can pop your friend for no apparent reason; and (b) if you break a rule at school (like the general school rule against popping your friend in the bathroom for no apparent reason) and your teacher has to send Mom and Dad an email, there are going to be consequences. Dreaded consequences.
So, we sat down with him that night and grilled him. Why did he hit his friend? Why did he think it was ok to hit his friend? Didn’t he realize it was totally not cool to hit his friend at school? We told him we were disappointed in him and that we didn’t like getting emails from his teacher, telling us that he had done something bad. Because he was better than that. We knew, he knew it – the end.
And then we told him that we’d discussed it and agreed upon a punishment of no television or videos through the end of the week. And he could only watch television or videos again when the weekend came IF he did not get in a lick of trouble for the rest of the week at school. He cried a little, mostly I think because he was upset that we were disappointed in him (that really gets him) and perhaps slightly because he was sad about his punishment.
That first night, he didn’t really feel the pinch of his punishment since there wasn’t any time for television watching anyway. But, the second night, at around 8:00, I put a video on for my daughter and told my son he either had to go up to his room or down to the basement to play by himself while his sister watched her show. He didn’t fight me, and headed upstairs to play by himself in his room.
As the show was wrapping up down in the family room, I could hear him crying at the top of the stairs.
What’s wrong, kid-o?
I’m bored up here playing all by myself.
Yes, well, I understand that but this is your punishment because you hit your friend at school, remember?
I know, but I’m bored.
Well, next time maybe you’ll think twice about hitting your friend.
Yes, I said that.
It’s like straight out of the script of disappointed parent. I play the part well, I’ve learned. All those years of high school drama, I suppose.
I felt bad, but I also felt a little relieved that the punishment was making an impact. There’s nothing worse than handing down a punishment and having it roll of your kid’s back like it’s no big deal. You want it to sting a little.
The good news is that he didn’t get in trouble for the rest of the week, and he got to watch a video on Friday night. And I think he’s learned his lesson about popping friends at school. For now, at least.