Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Being Sad Vs Being Angry

I'm (mostly) pretending to be bummed out. Eddie, the younger, is in kindergarten, and is predictably acting out. He's not terrible, mind you, but his behavior warrants damn near daily write homes from the teacher.

Well, that's not the whole story. He brings home a daily behavior scorecard every day--if he behaved well, he gets a "wow!" stamp. If he behaved poorly, there's generally a short note describing the infraction. Straight "wows" gets you an ice cream on Friday, but the E Man either doesn't give a shit about ice cream or can't grok a reward that is five days away.

Worse, he's not really motivated at school. He's easily distracted, and most of his troubles can be classified in the "isn't paying attention" section of the daily report. It sounds a lot like me as a young adult, actually, which scares me enough that I make a pretty big deal about "wows" and bad days.

But the poor guy just can't seem to catch on. He'll do well for a couple of days, and then slink home with bad reports for the next three. There are discussions nightly about what happened, good or bad, and he's actually gotten better about retaining what he got in trouble for. But that's just the first, really low, hurdle.

Worse, I'm not sure the freakin' teacher's on the level. K thinks "she's kind of a hippie," and some of the bad conduct reports seem pretty small minded. "Skipping in line" comes to mind, and "pushed the button on the water fountain while in line" does too. On the other hand, "poked another student with a pencil" and "playing with acorn instead of listening in class" come to mind, too.

As a parent, I learned pretty quickly that you have to be pretty careful about getting angry as a means of controlling the kids. It's not that it scares them or gets my blood pressure up, it's that there's just not a lot of wiggle room in being mad. Threatening a 3 year old, while fun, has to escalate pretty quickly into giving a spanking to said 3 year old, which isn't really fun at all. And from the beginning (age 3), that's about all Eddie understood.

But he's fucking FIVE now, and he's learned about all the lessons that I think spanking's going to teach him. He's got all the major rules down, and is, in fact, a very well behaved and polite child. Not to mention sweet and cute and all that other stuff. We're past the power struggles, in other words, and I think now it's more an issue of motivating him to do well.

The problem is that not much seems to work. The stick (spankings) is no longer really appropriate--he doesn't do anything bad enough to warrant a serious punishment like that. However, carrots don't have much of an effect either--witness the utter lack of ice-cream Fridays in his life.

Treating him like an employee hasn't worked very well, either. "So, Eddie, your productivity has been down this week. Is there something I can do to help you?" Hell, he doesn't know anything other than he's constantly getting in trouble for not paying attention. I can see it in his eyes: "yeah, you can help me. Get in my brain at school and make me pay attention."

So tonight's discussion ended with me telling him I was very sad that he wasn't working hard enough in school, disappointed with him about his behavior, etc etc.. I'm just at a loss as to where to go from here.

Oh, in other news I've been promoted, temporarily, to call center supervisor. More money, for the next couple of months, and some unknown increase in responsibilities. It's kids all the way down, it looks like.


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