Friday, January 7, 2011

Serenity Wanted

Enchanted Oak, one of my current favorite blogs, wrote a review about a book I really need to read right now.

True to form, my son had a rough day at school--on his second day of school. According to his progress sheet, which is sent home every day with comments, and which a parent needs to read and sign, he played around and talked at his desk, completed almost none of his work, and so on. He had a rough day all around, for I had to take him out of school early so that he could get a shot to complete a series and be formally admitted into school. And I actually had to pull him off a doorjamb and hold him down so that the nurse could give him the shot.

I have never had to do this before. Even now, as I sit in my hotel room, my stomach churns in dread over how he is likely behaving in the classroom at this very moment.

You know the old saying, "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change those I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

My wisdom is severely lacking. I can't change his behavior once my son is at school. He seems bent on doing whatever he wants to, and a bad mood makes his behavior even worse. But is there something about his mood that I can help to change? Is there a way I am contributing to his moodiness, or his attitude, or his behavior?

Or do I need to accept this as something I cannot change? Is this a place where I need to find serenity, to accept my son as he is and allow the school to deal with his behavior on their own, let him accept the consequences of his actions, and just take care of me without the tinglings of dread I feel each morning? Do I just make it clear to my son that I love him, and hope he finds his own path to happiness?

Any advice? I know many of you are parents, and many of you have much older kids... perhaps you can give me insight and perspective I don't have at this point.


  1. Lee told me once that no one could make someone else happy. You can foster happiness, but everyone, even the small ones, must be willing to take it.

  2. First of all any school that sends report cards home every day is sending out signals to the child that behaviour is the most important part of school and some kids rebel against that, depending on their age. I know i was extremely naughty at 5 and 6 but shy and very well-behaved thereafter. I would have played up about the report cards for sure. is it the pressure of behaving for the report? Have you asked him what he doesn't like about school? Good luck

  3. Honestly, I've yet to experience my kids in a school that didn't send home--or at least quantify for the students--a daily assessment of their behavior and work.

    No, there was an exception, a truly horrible school my daughter attended for a year. I looked it up according to the Great Schools rating, and it had earned a "0" out of 10. It's standards were horrible, and thus its students failed in every single area according to national standards.

    This new school is such a shock for the kids, though--they are going from three recesses a day to one, and go to school an hour longer each day. However, the academics are also far more challenging, judging from what the kids are bringing home in completed work. That may be part of the problem: this is the first time my son may have been challenged academically. We'll see what he does with these challenges.

    The teacher called today to set up a conference. It could be a bad sign. It could also mean she wants to work all of this out as much as I do. We'll see what can be accomplished to the benefit of all parties involved.

  4. Shakespeare, I say let him learn the consequences of his actions now. You don't want to have this concern when he is a teenager. Speaking from experience, that is something you don't want to go through. Learning boundaries for his behavior and consequences for his actions now are the tools he will need later in life. He will be a more successful and happier boy onoe he figures this out. Stephanie is right; we can't create someone's happiness for them, so don't try to go that route. It will only create a bigger problem. I think your instinct is correct; the teacher wants to work with you and your son about the situation. Remember I have seen you in action. You are a good mom, so hang in there. It will get better!

  5. I don't have your direct email anymore? This is Tess's post that will give you directions to getting off that list. I followed her directions. We were on it four times.

  6. Was this his second day ever in school? Was it a different kind of behavior than normal? If it was a different behavior than normal then there had to be a factor that caused your son to have such a rough day. When you meet with the teacher approach it as a problem solving session...a team approach to helping your son excell in her class.

  7. How old is your son and how attached was he to your old home? This environment is completely foreign to him and he is in his own way feeling the walls to see where they are.

    Now is when the parenting with passion comes in. He needs to know that nothing is more important to you and the old man than him right now and that even though you can't spend every minute of every day with him, you can find a secret talisman he can wear round his neck or keep in his pocket to remind him not only of your love and care but also of your requirements for his behavior at school.

    With the two 6 year old boys I tutor I gave them small flashlights they could keep in their pockets (The teachers set the rules and I gave them to the boys as mine. Basically do not play with them in class.) *shrug* I only see them once a week but they always have those little flashlights with them reminding them I am coming back and will see them soon.

    Bottom line though set the rules as you normally would with the same expectations as you have always had and do not deviate from the position you have always had regarding his behavior.

  8. This is a really hard situation, and there is no right answer. But in a talk on Sunday, the speaker said that the cure for anything is hard work. The cure for depression, homesickness, or whatever is hard work, because a person forgets to worry about themselves, and becomes invested in something bigger.

    It sounds like he will be getting a lot of work from school, but maybe if he had an ongoing project that taught him the value of work that he could do on the weekends. I have no idea what that might be... For now, may be even find some work he could do to serve other people. Maybe help him learn to care about others and be more open to differences.

    Although, being challenged in school may make all the difference. It has made a huge difference in Jared's accountability getting his homework done. There isn't a lot that you can do from a hotel room, is there? Miss you tons!!!

  9. All of you have really helped me shape my plan of action. We spent the weekend talking about why he resisted doing work, and we made it VERY clear that part of growing up means doing work first, and only playing once the work is done. Now, if he comes home with extra work (because he didn't finish it) he has to finish it FIRST.

    The teacher on Monday wrote that he was doing MUCH better than he had the first week. I'm just going to work at it, and he's working harder, too. I think you are right about the accountability, neenee and Gail. He has to know that what he does has consequences, that every choice he makes will affect himself and others. He also needs to know, as you said, Walking Man, that we love him unconditionally. As you said, Sharon, I'm looking forward to the teamwork the teacher, I, and my son will develop to make the transition work better for all of us.

    Thanks for all your comments!