Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Behavior

As at teacher I love email, it is so less cumbersome than the old way of sending notes, especially when something needs to get home, which would typically require a return note from the parents to let me know they saw what they needed to see. Ugh! As a parent I love email even more. I can so easily send a quick note to Abby's teacher to let her know when I'm going to pick her up from school, where in her backpack I put her permission slip, and for the occasional check on her progress. Usually I'm the one that initiates the communication, so when I get a note started by Mrs. C I know it is something important, especially when it has "Behavior" in the subject line.

Yesterday, after a particularly tiring day at school, I heard the ping on my phone that indicated I'd gotten a new message. I should have left it, but I picked it up and saw the message waiting for me. Mrs. C wanted to let me know that Abby had been particularly stubborn during school. She was reluctant to do work, wouldn't come in from recess, didn't line up when she was supposed to (and then laughed about it), and was generally being a brat (my words, certainly not hers). Now, Abby's teacher did mention that she didn't seem to be feeling well, and Abby's stubbornness, orneriness, and bratish tendencies tend to increase exponentially when she is under-the-weather, but I was still disappointed.

When Abby got home I didn't pounce on her right away about her behavior, but I did make sure to talk to her about it later - after the time-out she earned for not listening to me. We talked about how important it is to listen to adults and how she needs to do what her teachers ask her to. She dutifully lowered her head and said, "Okay, Mama." Her sweetness won me over and that was that.

This morning as we were getting ready for school I had a few minutes, so I sat down to write a note to one of Abby's teachers. Abby decided that she wanted to write some too. So she very seriously sat next to me and diligently took pen to paper. She proudly showed me her scribbles and I set about "translating" her writing on the back of the paper. I guessed that she was writing a note of apology for her behavior yesterday, so that's what I went with. She signed her name and all was good. As we waited for the bus I made sure to remind her that she'd agreed to do her work and listen today, she smiled and gave me another, "Okay, Mama!"

I decided that it might be a good idea to pick her up from school, so I could get the report directly from her teacher. As I watched Abby notice me down the hall, I also saw her put on the breaks when her teacher told her to go back into the room and get her mail. Eventually though she did as she was asked. Things weren't looking good. The report from Mrs. C was that today was better than yesterday - good, but not great, so I crouched down to Abby's level and asked her about her day. I have to say I wasn't negative and I didn't adopt my "you're in trouble" tone, but when I asked her if she listened to her teachers today she paused and turned to Mrs. C, gave her a hug and said, "I'm sorry." From there she turned on the charm and started talking about Mrs. C's pretty necklace.

This small exchange told me a couple of things. First, that Abby realized she hadn't done all that she could to be a good girl. Second, that Abby knew this was wrong and sought to make it right by offering an apology. Finally, that she knows exactly what she is doing when it comes to turning on the charm, and wiping away any frustrations with her bad behavior. She so sweetly hugged Mrs. C and offered her a lovely smile as a good-bye. Then, she slipped her soft hand into mine and and looked up at me with those sweet cinnamon colored eyes of hers and said, "Hungry. How 'bout pizza, Mama?"

And that was that. We walked out to the car and drove to get her pizza for dinner. Along the way I came to one more important realization. I've always thought that I was the firm one, that Jason was the softy when it came to falling under Abby's spell, but there are times when I don't stand a chance - and you know what? I'm good with that.

Abby "drawing" in some shaving cream at school.


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