Good Choice, Not-So-Good Choice

My son is having a tough time at school.

A little background: we started Hendrik in a two year-old program in September.  I agonized over this decision (seriously, tears and spreadsheets and 867 school visits), but I knew he was ready for the challenge.  He was 2.25 years old, extremely verbal and bright, and needed to be around other kids more.

You know what else we did to him around that time?  We put him in a big-boy bed in July.  We had a steady stream of visitors for five weeks in August and September.  Oh!  And we brought a tiny new baby home and yelled at him to stop throwing toys at her head pretty little head daily.

My poor son.  That’s a whole lot to handle for a kid, right?

I didn’t realize that he would be so aggressive with the other kids.  We had no issues with aggression until his sister came along (besides the normal toddler stuff).  He bit a kid on day two; then we had several GREAT days, but for the last 3 weeks I’ve gotten nothing but negative reports about his behavior.  Time-outs (one actually in the office), pushing, shoving.  He bit once.  He’s gotten bit twice.  The first bite they were very concerned about (it left a bruise for days); yesterday’s, they basically said he was looking for a fight.

The last chat I had with his teacher, she told me she was not worried about him at all, and didn’t want me to worry.  She told me his aggression did not come from anger.  She told me his speech was “abnormal” (yes, a strange word choice when you are saying he speaks exceptionally well).  I wonder if, considering the last three weeks, she’s changed her mind.

H told me about time-out in the office on Tuesday.  I asked Miss K about it yesterday.  “Wow,” she said.  “I’m impressed he told on himself.  [Another teacher] said I should send him home, but I know you have a lot going on and need a break.”


He’s been a real challenge at home as well.  It’s frustrating.  I want him to know how much I adore him, how wonderful he is, but he is driving me bat-shit crazy lots of the time.  He is defiant lately (“No!  You don’t have to do that, Mommy!  You are NOT going to do that!”) and sometimes rude (“Mommy, DO NOT DANCE to the Fresh Beat Band.”).  He’s MUCH gentler with Ailie, but inexplicably on Saturday he threw gravel in her face at the playground.

He’s also getting molars and has had a weird perma-cold for the last two months.  (Runny nose, congestion, some coughing at night.)  I’m convinced now he has a behavior-altering sinus infection and I should have had him at the doc’s six weeks ago.  Bad mama.

Lest you think he is some sort of genuine toddler monster, he’s also sometimes the kindest, most peaceful little soul.  He is an expert at soothing his sister with songs and a soft voice: “It’s okay, baby.  Mommy’s coming.  I know, I know.  We’re almost home.  It’s okaaaaaaay.”  He loves to help his parents cook, clean, and fix things.  His moves on the dance floor are unparalleled.

He has so much charisma and so much energy, and the child is extremely bright.  This past weekend he picked up my iPhone and asked, “Mommy, did Dustin get you a new phone?” He remembered the name of the AT&T clerk he met for 30 seconds a month ago.

I asked for some guidance from my Facebook people yesterday and received some excellent suggestions.  Here’s my plan:

  1. Purchase 123 Magic immediately.  Read. (I’ve already read The Happiest Toddler on the Block, but time-outs and taking things away don’t seem to be working very well at present.  It’s time for more positive reinforcement.)
  2. Purchase Hands Are Not For Hitting post-haste, and any other related treatise on what NOT to do with teeth, fingers, and feet.
  3. A friend on the Facebook suggested discussing choices, and then not-so-good choices.  We do talk an awful lot about decisions up in here, but I like this tactic.  My friend also suggested a behavior-tracking chart for school days.  (I tried a chart for two-hour increments before but it was just too difficult to update consistently.)  I love the idea of rewarding great school-day behavior with some sort of small treat.
  4. Attend Love and Logic seminar when it comes to our preschool in January.
  5. LOVE ON MY BOY.  Even when I am seething, I need to remember to stay calm and remind myself that he is but TWO.

Please share your experiences and/or suggestions if you’ve got ’em.  I want my child to have a wonderful school experience; I don’t want his teachers to be exasperated and have him turn into O’Doyle.




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