Five Little Words

Posted on | November 26, 2013 | 8 Comments

Yesterday, when I went to pick J up from school, his teacher met me at the door with a concerned look on her face. She motioned for J to wait inside the classroom and she pulled me aside to chat. Before she got ten seconds into the spiel I was on edge… mostly because she looked at me with complete concern and asked:

“Is everything okay at home?”

Just five little words. Just a sentence that shouldn’t be bad or good or accusatory or congratulatory. Just five little words. And yet those five little words had the power to almost reduce me to tears; to a blubbering mess of a mother wondering what she’d done now to somehow screw up the little life that was hers to protect.  The conversation continued, with his teacher telling me that J’s been aggressive for the past week, hitting and pushing, knocking people down. And it culminated in an incident at lunch yesterday when another child tried to take J’s fork and J poked him with it on the face.

He poked a child with a fork.

And as she talked, my sweet child flashed before my eyes, from birth to now all snuggly and sweet and full of happiness and all I could hear behind her words was “What on Earth have you done to your child lately to make him so unhappy at school?!”

She wasn’t blaming me. She was genuinely trying to figure out if there was an explanation for what could only be called TOTALLY out of character behavior for my normally well-behaved little boy. But all I could think was that yes, something must be wrong at home for this to have happened. Surely there was something wrong with me and my parenting and my housekeeping or feeding routine or SOMETHING. It must be my fault because, after all, I am the only parent in the home.

All the way home, I thought about what I might have done wrong. I wondered if my depression had played a role, if my relationship with Banks was to blame. I wondered if I wasn’t spending enough quality time with J or if I was spending too much. Am I spending more of my attention and time on Banks? Am I neglecting J’s needs or wants or desires? I wondered how often and in how many ways I must have failed my child to lead him to this point, where he’s stabbing kids with eating utensils.

And then I dropped my child off with a sitter, went to my work meeting, and came home several hours later to snuggle with my little boy. We talked about being kind to our friends and not hitting people with fists or feet or, obviously, eating utensils. But mostly? Mostly we just snuggled. Because I don’t know how to delve into his head and figure out what’s upsetting him. I don’t know how to talk to him about the choices he makes or the people he hurts. I don’t know how to fix whatever is happening in his life.

So we snuggled. And we laughed. And I tried to let go of the feeling I’m doing everything wrong and hold onto the feeling that I’m doing the best that I can.

And obviously? Today, he had a spoon in his lunch.


8 Responses to “Five Little Words”

  1. Robyn
    November 26th, 2013 @ 1:28 pm

    Sometimes when I read your writing, I feel as if I could write it myself. It is so nice to know someone else is going through the same struggles and triumphs. I don’t know why it is so hard for me to hear that Milo “had a hard day” at preschool, but sometimes it all I can do not to cry. And sometimes I do.

  2. Law Momma
    November 26th, 2013 @ 1:32 pm

    I wanted to just curl up in a ball and cry yesterday when she told me. What do you do? What do you say to that… I just sort of blankly stared and said “I’ll talk to him.”

  3. Maureen
    November 26th, 2013 @ 1:38 pm

    Long time lurker, first time poster. I can so relate! It is so hard to hear that from the teachers. I have left preschool in tears several times this past month as my 3 year old has started to act out, hitting one of the other little boys. I brought him to the pediatrician and a developmental specialist and they both said the same thing – “He’s 3. He’s a boy. This is a phase, give it time.” I am trying not to worry, but I must confess, I am mortified some days walking in there to pick him up wondering what kind of report I am going to get that day! Hang in there, you have company 🙂

  4. Law Momma
    November 26th, 2013 @ 1:42 pm

    I hear that a lot of 3 and 4 year old boys are in the same place and it makes me feel better. Not great… but better. 🙂

  5. Heather Griffitts Clark
    November 26th, 2013 @ 1:50 pm

    So – if nothing major were going on at home, I would have asked her if routines had changed or if she’d noticed anything at school could have prompted it…. Not accusatory, just trying to see the whole picture. Home AND school.

  6. Law Momma
    November 26th, 2013 @ 1:53 pm

    Yeah. I guess I should have asked. I was just so shell shocked.

  7. Heather Griffitts Clark
    November 26th, 2013 @ 2:43 pm

    I should have phrased it this way: After I dried my tears, had a glass of wine or three and had an evening to think about it, I would have emailed/called/spoken to the teacher with questions like this: “I’ve thought about it, and nothing major is going on at home, is there anything at school that might be prompting this? Changes in behaviors of his friends? Challenging assignments he’s having a hard time with? New students/friendships?”
    And, FWIW, W has been doing the same sort of things lately, and he just turned 3. M never really did….she only fights back with her brother. He’s always the first to get physical.

  8. Momalegal
    November 26th, 2013 @ 3:17 pm

    Hugs to you, I know exactly how you feel! And yes, I think it’s a phase that 3 and 4 year old boys go through. My son’s just happened to last what seemed like forever! I felt the same way MANY times when I picked him up. Last year I developed a Pavlovian response where I cringed whenever my text notification sounded on my cell phone because it was usually his teacher reporting what he’d done THAT day,

    I’ve also been told that this can happen when they are bored and intellectually ready to move on. I’ve seen a drastic improvement this year because my son is more stimulated. We have problems with him sitting still and not talking, but he’s still a BOY! 🙂

    Don’t worry, this too shall pass and although it always feels like it MUST be something we’ve done, hopefully you’ll be able to look back on it soon and feel it’s just a phase.

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    Spilled Milk (and Other Atrocities) by Law Momma is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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