My husband and I struggled with the decision to put our youngest child in pre-k this year. People who know us assure us that it’s because he’s a boy, and we’re only used to girls. Our little boy, C. is “busy.” And busy is the nicest word we have found to describe our capricious little half-sized tornado.
I started praying for his teacher before we even knew he got into a pre-k class, because we knew teaching him is going to be a challenge. Trust us, parenting him is no peanut butter and jelly sandwich, either.
Today, I am feeling more protective of him than usual, and defensive for him. Read on, and I think you’ll understand.
His teacher is highly recommended, and everyone I’ve spoken with has loved her, so I know (hope, pray, expect) that it will get better.
I’m not sorry for the snarky, desperate note I scribbled on C’s daily behavior log today, but I do feel the need to explain.
That little boy right there? He’s mine. He’s our youngest, our last, and the only boy.
He doesn’t look like me, or my husband, but his little brown hands hold our pale ones for evening prayer each night.
When I come home from work, he charges at me, with an exuberant, “Mama!” and slams into me for a fast hug, before rushing off for more playtime.
When he talks about his daddy, his bright eyes light up, and he jabbers with excitement about his daddy’s trains, his daddy’s truck, cooking with his daddy, and swimming with his daddy. He points at my husband and says, “That’s MY daddy.”
And he talks about all six of his sisters, his speech teacher, Overtime at church, his birth mom, his grandparents, coloring, dancing, the movie Home, and riding his scooter.
He loves running, dogs, driving his sisters nuts, and seeing how many things he can stuff into another random thing. He likes building and taking apart, he plays jokes, wants his boo-boos bandaged, is a pro at finding weird places to pee, and he will, at the ripe old age of four, do cannonballs off the high-dive with no life jacket, and laugh all the way down.
He has the temper of a wildfire, and the drowsy snuggliness of a decades-old quilt. He wants to be read to, but rarely can sit still past page three.
He makes the silliest faces, and in perfectly good humor, will ignore you the first 147 times you tell him to go get in his bed. And on request #148, he’ll wriggle down the hall, taunting that he doesn’t like us. Minutes later, we hear, “Mama, Daddy! I want YOU!”
We have to set a timer at dinner, or he will play with his food, his sister’s food, the dog, his silverware, my silverware, visit the bathroom three times, and try to go outside at least once.
Dentist’s offices don’t use as many toothbrushes as we do, because they can be used for everything, including disassembling the flush mechanisms on the toilet, brushing his hair, playing with his feet, and any number of ways to annoy his sisters. I’ve already mentioned that? Oh yeah, he’s a pro at getting them mad enough to tell like a dying Ton-Ton on the ice planet Hoth.
But in the midst of all the crazy he creates, he will stop, look up, smile, and blink charmingly at you, like the perfect little angel he could be if he never moved.
So when I get notes from you, every day, saying he needs to work on keeping his hands to himself, I have a hard time responding.
Not one day has gone by since he started walking—and he pretty much skipped crawling–that we haven’t, several times in the span of just a few minutes, told him to keep his hands to himself. To be still. To stop that.
He is curious, insistent, helpful, stubborn, and very, very clever. He gets bored once he’s figured something out.
We work on his sitting still skills. We practice following directions, using routines and procedures, and staying in line. Every. Single. Day.
C. reminds me of my uncle, whose nickname he shares: athletic, really bright, fearless, and hopefully, someday, smart enough to walk the line between adventure and trouble.
I hope he continues to love to learn, and get excited about being in school like his big sisters.
And I worry that if all he hears is that he needs to stay in line, keep his hands to himself, and stop swinging his lunchbox, he will lose the exuberant joy he has when he discovers something new.
And while I know he needs to do all those things in the classroom, and I also know that he needs to hear the good he does too. So do his parents.
So, could you help a mama out, and maybe once a week, find something nice to say about my little boy?
He really is trying.