...I got another bad note from school."
That was the first thing I heard from Jellybean last evening when I picked him up from the after-school program. Unfortunately, its something I've heard several times over the past few weeks. Jellybean is just simply having a rough time right now in school. He loves school, but he's struggling with appropriate behaviors.
Of the two boys, Jellybean is the one who has been able to handle change the best. He's more laid-back and has a better grasp on what's going on. He's more equipped to 'roll with the punches'. But lately, he's had a LOT of pretty big changes. He loves his teacher. We love his teacher. But, right before Christmas she had a baby and has been on maternity leave ever since. There wasn't one teacher who could cover her absence entirely, so there was one interim teacher for about a month, and now there's another interim teacher until the rest of maternity leave is over.
Every teacher is different. Every teacher has different preferences, different ways of doing things, and slightly different consequences for things. His regular teacher is a pretty laid-back, flexible kind of teacher. If Jellybean had a problem during the day, she'd send me a quick email to give me a heads-up and let me know what was going on. The first interim teacher didn't send home any notes or emails letting me know he was having trouble...so I assume all was fine during her time in the classroom. But the current interim teacher? We've gotten 5 notes home in 3 weeks' time.
I don't doubt that Jellybean's behavior has earned him a note home. He's been a challenge even at home these past few weeks. But it is also completely expected. You see, Z was out of town for two weeks taking care of Army responsibilities. Jellybean always has a harder time when Z is out of town. He and Z are close...and I am sure that when Z leaves town insecurities creep up into his mind (consciously or not). But, we find a way to deal with the troublesome behavior at home...and we spend more time talking about what is bothering us when Z is gone. We all miss him, so if he understands that I feel sad too, then we can work to help each other feel better. We make sure that Jellybean understands that Z IS COMING BACK HOME...and we talk with Z on the phone, so that helps, too.
But trouble at school is so much harder to deal with. I can't go with him to school every day and help him make better choices. Some of these things he has to just learn on his own, through consequences at school for the choices he's made.
First the notes home were about him being disruptive in class; talking out of turn, not paying attention, etc. Then there was a note home about the teacher being concerned that he didn't know his numbers well enough and he was struggling in math. We need to work on numbers 1-50 with him and work on coins (names and values). Ok, we can do that. Then yesterday, the note was about him being caught goofing around in the girls' bathroom.
He's always honest about things when I ask him about it. Yesterday he said that another little boy in his class told him to go in the girls' bathroom because it would be funny. Unfortunately, the teachers didn't think it was very funny. It bought him a trip to the Principal's office and a "bad" note home.
To be completely honest, a much bigger part of me than I should admit to on a public forum, wants to just laugh about something like this. If only the teachers would realize where the boys were just two years ago! This behavior that he's struggling with now is NOTHING compared to where we were. This stuff is trivial. This stuff is (in my opinion) pretty 'normal' little boy behavior. And part of me wants to just raise my hands and rejoice that we've finally reached a place where the boys have "normal" little boy bad behaviors!
At the same time, I know that I have to take the teacher's concerns seriously and do my best to help Jellybean understand that he has to do a better job controlling himself at school. He has to think before he acts. He has to do a better job listening. So we talk about it. He has consequences at home for bad behaviors at school like an early bed time or missing out on a privilege at home (like TV or video game time).
And as far as the "knowing coins and their values" stuff goes? Sure, we'll work on it. But I know that he'll get it eventually. In the past two years these two boys have had TONS and TONS of new things to learn. They have done an amazing job absorbing so much more than I could absorb in the same amount of time. Unfortunately, with a list a million things long, I'm afraid "knowing coins and their values" simply was not on the top of the priority list. Mrs. E will just have to deal with it.