Work with me, please.

The Flip Side


When I picked up Jay from school today, I asked him one of my typical questions, “Tell me something good that happened today.”  He said, “Well, N__ wasn’t that bad to me today.”  Jay has been complaining about this classmate N for a few months. N has some behavioral issues that, unfortunately for all, have become well-known among the families and earned him a label as a “hitter.”  I previously posted that I feel bad for him and his parents because I can empathize with being the parent who has to stay behind at pick-up to hear about all the sad choices your kid made that day.  Mae set us up for many such conversations, and the potential lurks on a daily basis.

I told Jay that N not treating him so bad today isn’t really a good thing and he can measure his day by things not having to do with N. He told me in a reassuring voice that he thinks about other things too. So, I asked him to tell me another something good that happened.

“Well, N__ didn’t push me too hard with his block.”

Huh?  I asked, “What’s good about that?”

“What was good about it was that it didn’t actually hurt.”

This is one post I hope Hubby doesn’t read.  I’m surely not going to tell him voluntarily about this conversation.  He and Jay talked earlier this week about N.  Hubby told Jay to hit N back.  I can’t co-sign that, not at this age.  I disagree for a number of reasons, all of which Hubby and I talked through later that night.  Hubby made some good points; he just wants his son to stand up for himself.  I want the same thing, and think Jay can do it in a different, more effective and empowering way.  I also want N to learn better social skills almost as much as I wanted the same for Mae at that age three or four years ago.   I want Jay to tell N how to be a better friend, and model this behavior for him.  I want him to walk away if N becomes mean or hurtful and play with other kids and tell the teacher.  I want Jay to withhold his friendship from N until N earns it.

I took another shot with Jay.

“What else was good about today?”

He said, “S[__] was the line leader and she’s good at it.”

See, this is one of the things I love about this boy. He has a good heart.  He genuinely and consistently thinks of others and their happiness.

Still, I wanted to see if I could get him to focus on himself.  I asked if there was anything else he liked about the day.

“We got to play in the sandbox today.”

“Cool.  So, you had fun in the sandbox?”

“Well, I didn’t play in it.  I played on the slide.”

And, this gets to why I didn’t press Hubby about the wisdom or lack of wisdom in telling Jay to hit N back.  He’s a good kid and he cares deeply about others.  He’ll forgive and help before he hurts.

Just yesterday, as a follow-up to the conversation that Hubby and I had, I called Jay’s preschool teacher to try to gain insight on how she and the staff are handling N’s behavior.  Jay had told me the day before how N threw a Lego at him that landed on his cheek.  Jay said that N’s mom had to pick him up early because of this.  I told Ms. M — and I sincerely believe — that I trust she and the staff are working with N to help him learn to make better choices in the same way that they worked with Mae.  I also offered myself as a resource for N’s mom and asked Ms. M to feel free to give her my number.  I know from my own experience that it is frustrating and lonesome to be That Mom.  Maybe she’ll call, maybe she won’t.  In either case, I hope she seeks and receives the support she and N need.

In the long run, I think Jay will be fine.  I have seen him stand up for himself repeatedly with his sister, and she’s no joke.  While I dislike how N treats Jay and no doubt other classmates, I believe that N will grow and improve.  I also believe that Jay will become more discerning and give less attention to N.

In the meantime, I pray that Mae never sees or even hears about N mistreating Jay.  I could see her excusing herself from 2nd grade recess and going to hem N up.

Comments on: "The Flip Side" (2)

  1. You are much more patient and calm about this than I would be. I tend to be like your husband, believing that if a child simply got a dose of his own medicine, that might be the ticket to improved relationships. But if you have some inkling that N’s behavior is not just that of a spoiled, non-disciplined child, that there might be something deeper, then I can appreciate your approach.

    • I hear you. In this case, I think there is something deeper. At the same time, if Jay comes home and says that he wacked N because he couldn’t take it anymore, I’ll probably do a fist pump as soon as Jay turns his head.

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