With a Little Help from My Friends

My son, Chase, has been having a rough time at school. Over the past couple of weeks, his teacher has told us that though he’s very bright, Chase has been shouting out and isn’t following directions. Then, on Friday, his teacher called me at lunch time and said he had pinched a child and written in another child’s library book. Then, she called again that afternoon and said that he had scratched a different boy at the very end of the day. I can’t tell you how out of character this is for my son. I don’t remember him hurting another child in all of preschool, and he’s always made friends and played so well with others.

I was so shocked by the first call that I sat in the office where I took the call with tears running down my cheeks until I could pull myself together.

The questions kept mounting… Where was this coming from? What changed? What can we do to fix this? Will he be held back? Did we start him in Kindergarten too early? And my worries turned more personal… Will other parents, who we’re just starting to get to know, think my child is a trouble-maker and not want to invite him over? Will we be ostracized?

On Saturday afternoon, I met with the Heinzer family for a photo shoot. They are at the same preschool Chase went to, and Chase is great friends with their son, Jacob. Seeing them brought on so much nostalgia for the good ol’ days and more doubt in what was already a tough and much-debated decision to go ahead and start Chase in Kindergarten this year (his birthday is at the end of August). However, it was also a welcome relief to talk to Missy about how they’ve been doing, catch her up on what Chase has been getting himself into, and lose myself for a couple of hours in photography…

Aren’t they a beautiful family? I miss seeing them so much, and am excited for my daughter to start preschool there in three weeks so that we’ll run into them more!

So back to Chase… during the second call with his teacher on Friday, we discussed some options for modifying behavior with a reward system, and Saturday morning, we started a sticker chart at home for “Good Decisions” to almost immediate results. He had some set-backs on Tuesday, but it was the day after Halloween so I’m hoping that’s an anomaly. Otherwise, he has been exceptionally and astonishingly well-behaved and even-tempered – at least here at home. His teacher said on Monday that he did much better that day, and yesterday, he brought home a completed reward sheet, so I’m looking forward to his Friday report, though still with some anxiety.

I’m so grateful that I have such wonderful friends to talk with about these things, who don’t think I’m a bad parent, and who are willing to brainstorm with me. I’m not going to fool myself that this is the last of it. I know it’s only been a few days, but I’m more and more of the belief that with with the help of so many people who believe in him and us, as parents, he’s going to be okay (at least until he’s a preteen???).

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