by Christine S. Lucas
Published April 20, 2013 in the Savannah Morning News
I am not a control-freak, but I have taken great comfort in my ability to soothe my son’s heart. I kiss boo-boos, fix food, wash and entertain him, but we finally reached something I couldn’t make better.
The saga began when I showed up at day care to learn that Elliot had “graduated” from his day care class. It seems a mother complained that he was hitting her little girl, and so my son graduated from a teacher he loved and children he’d been around since he was 8 months old. If he graduated, then his diploma must have read, “Suck it.” These were my thoughts as I went to fetch him from his new digs in the other wing.
It isn’t standard procedure for parents to be notified when a child progresses from one class to another, but Elliot was moved because of a complaint. Parents were, I imagine, kept from communicating because of the instinct to defend one’s own.
My issue is that one mother understandably expresses a problem, and her opinion is given complete weight enough to remove another child from class. Her point is taken into consideration, but it is done so while leaving another mother completely out of the loop. The end does not justify the means.
The reaction the day care staff expected, I came to resent this week. I have tried to remain positive that he has moved to a room that is good for him. His teacher is great, and he’s not languishing throughout the day. Now, however, for the first time he doesn’t want to go to school. At night he requests his old class before bed. He talks about it on the toilet, at the breakfast table, on the car ride, and mama can’t make it better. Only time will do that.
The hitting that prompted his being yanked has not continued at all in his current class. Not once. He’s learning new songs, keeping his Pull-ups in good shape, and he’s even been invited to a birthday party. The heartbreak that I couldn’t fix is starting to mend. What is replacing it, however, slowly, is a sense of pride in himself. It’s the first time he’s really had to test his coping skills, and I think he’s managing better than his mother.
The lesson of late has been learning when to hold back. The world is not a satin pillow on which my beloved can sit forever. At the park, I have to let him be his own protector sometimes.
A 6-year-old boy says “baby alert” at the approach of my child who only wants to play. On a cellular and energetic level I want to put that crummy loser in a half-nelson and make him eat monkey balls (from Sycamore trees). I can’t though, and Elliot learns to stand his ground — something very unbaby-like!
I also have to learn that Elliot can act a fool and it doesn’t reflect on me. When he furrows his brow at another child, I want to correct him. I don’t want kids to hate him. I want them to think he’s the lovable spec of God dust that happened to land before them. He’s a spirited spec, and he wants to get his way. Be compassionate. There I go trying to put him back on the pillow again. It’s so hard not to be protective.
In the constant comparison between working and nonworking mothers, this is where extra time benefits the parent. In the course of your day you see your child interact with more children. You learn whether his behavior is a one-time thing or a habit that needs more diligent correcting. When to intervene is probably the question parents ask themselves most often, and I doubt it’s going to get any easier.
At first I just wanted to keep him alive. Now he’s supposed to be a pleasure to be around, too? He’s supposed to be law-abiding and respectful? I’m going to need your help world. Be good to him, and I’ll keep my mouth shut.
I’ll try and have faith that good people will find him and good things will happen for him. It reminds me of a new ditty Elliot has been practicing of late. In his 3-year-old speech, it sounds like, “God our fodder. God our fodder.” When things we can’t control happen, we have to see the blessings among them. One is the smile that comes across my face when Elliot ends his religious tune saying, “Awwww, man.”
Christine Lucas writes about being a first-time mom and adventures with baby. Contact Christine at firstname.lastname@example.org.