I came home ready to grade last night, ready to tear into around 50 essays. Too bad I checked my voicemail first.
It was my son's principal, calling FIVE MINUTES AFTER SCHOOL STARTED to let me know that my son, my beautiful, bright 5-year-old son, had just mooned another boy on the bus. As the principal had ever so gently put it, my son dropped trow "down to the skin." Yes, my beloved son had done what no one in my family has ever done: shown his bare naked rump to various grades of complete strangers.
Why? I wasn't to find that out when he came home, for he pulled the classic Bill Cosby rendition of "I don't know" (Brain Damage!). Of course, by then his teacher had e-mailed me to let me know his whole day had been rough, he'd called people names, said he "hated" some other kid in class, and further slips in his bag confirmed he had even carried his ugliness to the playground.
I spoke to him, tearing up from embarrassment, telling him I was very disappointed, and he laughed and said I was faking. It was only after I left the room in tears that he began to cry himself.
My husband called a friend of ours--a cop--and since that was exactly what my son wants to be when he grows up, the officer talked to my little hoodlum seriously, telling him doing stupid things like that would pretty much prevent him from being a cop. My son was respectful enough, the cop said, to prevent him from going to jail this time.
But all the threats, I sensed, were not going to work. I am beginning to realize that my five-year-old son is simply too smart for them, that he sees through B.S. the way I can see through the holes in an old pair of underwear. The key wasn't to scare him, it was to make being good FUN.
Must think, think, think...
When he woke up this morning, I had a white undershirt waiting for him, to wear under his clothing (so that he could be in disguise). He would be Kind Boy, with a capital K, and his job as a superhero--with no superhero powers, he knowingly told his father--was to be kind to everybody. He would face the ugly remarks of classmates with silence and would resist his desire to say mean things, for, under his mild-mannered alter-ego, he was truly Kind Boy, spreading kindness wherever he went.
So, what happened? He came home with a stellar report for the day, and he was even recognized with a sticker for his behavior three times.
Of course, when he decides to go off the deep end, I'll have to think of something else... but for now, I'm glad to know something I've tried actually works (even if only for a day).