Friday, February 09, 2007

Some Days Are Like That, Even in Australia

At preschool pickup, Sean usually bursts out of his classroom room into my arms, thrilled to see me and happy about his day.

Today I was greeted with tear-streaked, blotchy cheeks and sorrowful eyes.

Before I even had a chance to ask him what was wrong, his teacher explained that she had had to take away the bike he had been riding in the playroom (where they go in lieu of playground time when the weather isn't permitting). She's told me before that he tends to ride the bike too roughly, banging into other bikes and tipping himself over. So I was dismayed to hear that not only had he once again been treating the playroom like the Indy 500 but had done so repeatedly, despite his teacher's warnings.

I tried to talk to him about it in the hallway but quickly realized that wasn't a good idea, unless I wanted the teacher and all the parents as witnesses to a meltdown. "We'll have a talk when we get home," I said evenly. "NO WE WON'T!" Sean choked out.

When we got home, I asked him to explain what happened. Silence. Back turned toward me. Eventually I coaxed the story out of him: the big issue, for him, was not just that his bike was taken away; it was that his friend, who was riding "even faster" than he was, was not similarly reprimanded. His indignation was palpable.

Oh, the injustice. How to tell my sweet boy that this will happen to him again, and probably again and again? I know just how he felt, and I wanted just to hug him and kiss away his tears. That would have ignored the whole Bike Derby problem, though. I empathized with him at first, and then explained that we could worry only about his behavior, not his friend's. That he would have no television today. And that if it happened again both television and bedtime stories would be going on hiatus for a few days.

He reacted to this by running upstairs and hurling himself on his bed in tears. I gave him a few minutes to be by himself, then went up and sat on the bed next to him.

"Just like in the Alexander book, remember? It sounds like this has been a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day. Let's have some lunch and see if we can make it a little bit better."

"Okay," he sniffled, and accepted my hug.

I don't know if I handled this well, but at least I remained calm and didn't yell at all. I wish I knew if any of my attempts at disciplining are actually working...