Your aggression gets you nowhere.

Last week at daycare - I think it was a Tuesday - I dropped off Helen, trying my usual routine of getting her settled with a toy. Her usual routine is to realize I'm leaving, start to cry, and then I pass her off to the teacher. This particular morning, the teacher commented to me that Helen was a little "pushy."

The teacher is a very nice young lady, expecting her own child later this year, and her comment sort of took me by surprise. But I gave myself a moment to think it over - yeah, Helen can be pretty pushy. She fusses, and I respond by making whatever's annoying her go away, and the fussing stops. It's a pretty good system for her, so why should she think daycare would be any different?

Fast forward to two days later. I was at the daycare with Helen - actually sitting on the floor with her this time, playing with some blocks. No other parents were in the room, and the teacher took advantage of the opportunity to speak with me. She says (and I quote), "I hope you won't take this the wrong way ..."

Now we all know she's about to say something really nice, right? Yeah, that's what I thought.

"... but I wondered, do you have any rules for Helen at home?"

Gulp. Words every mother longs to hear, eh?

We actually do have rules for Helen. There's a short list Brian made last summer, posted on the refrigerator, titled "Rules for Helen." She's not allowed to hang out with the Smith Boys on her own (ever). She has to take swim lessons. She has to learn basic car maintenance. You know, things we want her to do or not do - but probably not what the daycare teacher meant.

So I had to stumble through the next few minutes with comments like, "Well, I've tried to put my foot down about her throwing food on the floor when she's done eating, but she just laughs at me." And I felt about 2 inches tall while I was doing it, too.

Her daycare teacher subtly suggested I needed to buckle down. As an example, when she's changing a kid's diaper, the rules say one hand on the kid at all times. Helen's across the room with another kid, and they're climbing on the table. The teacher tells them to get off the table and come stand by her. Every kid EXCEPT Helen obeys the teacher. It's like Helen doesn't listen to her.

(If you were wondering what that sound was, it's Helen's grandparents laughing hysterically. Cackling with glee, even.)

It's hard for Brian and I to be tough with her. You've seen her. Cute as a bug, eh? She gets fussy, and it's usually because she's upset with some sudden change. It's easier to fix whatever's wrong and get her quiet again, instead of letting her work through her frustration and settle herself. I can continue to fix things for her, but it could hurt her chances to pick up the tools to figure out this crazy world we live in.

It's part of being a parent, making sure she learns how to be a good girl. I just didn't realize it started SO SOON. I'm still back at "sleep through the night." Can we slow this down a little, please? Thanks.


shaas said...

"Hope you won't take this the wrong way" is just a southern way of cutting you down. Much like saying "Bless her heart" to make an insult sound better. Examples: "That yellow dress makes her look like a gigantic lemon, bless her heart." or "Jennie tries to be a good mom, but I don't think Helen has any rules at home, bless their hearts...."

Just KIDDING! Love ya.

Xander's Dad said...

Jennie - Just do what I would do. Wait a couple of years til after teacher has had child, walk up and say "Don't take this the wrong way but....".

JPT said...

Some of the rules in our house - LML will tell you if you ask -
"we don't drink water we sit in..."
"we don't eat playdoh..."
"we don't eat sand..." yep... sand.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I'm Sara's friend - she knows how much I love blogs & turned me on to yours - which I love - & couldn't resist commenting on this one...
The teacher is pulling a power play on you - whatever happens in that classroom is not your fault - Helen is her own being that you cannot control & should never really want to...your job is to guide her gently and lovingly into being a good responsible human being. When she is 16 do you really want her to follow the group?
You can ask Sara - I have two boys - they behave well most of the time. I refuse to take credit for their good behavior just as I refuse to take responsibility for the bad - it is their decision. This is something you will face at least through sixth grade (where my older one is now) so learn now how to reinforce at home, but not make the teacher's battles yours - or allow her to make you feel small.

Jennie said...

So, you're saying she'll listen to me when she's 12? *starts counting the days*

shaas said...

I can tell you that I think Amy (anonymous) is a great mom with great kids, so she must be somewhat of an authority (it helps that she checks in occasionally with my mom to get advice).

She is a little technologically challenged, so I'll have to show her how to leave a comment with her name on it.

Love ya.

Anonymous said...

Actually, 11 is as far as I've gotten so far, so I'm not willing to go beyond that...

Anonymous said...

I have increased my vocabulary of third person speak since I became an elementary school teacher. It has helped me at home. Lucas, who is 22 months, wakes at 4 am yelling "ba-ba" like he is the spanish guy on Sesame St in the desert saying "agua" so, what does Lucas get? CMON, its 4 AM and I have to be up at 5:30!!! who cares? RULES? and the doctor says this and the teacher says that....they are babies for goodness sake! Kids react to who they are with just like they react with you when they are with you...just tell the teacher she must not be yelling loud enough.hmmm, nevermind, just tell her (third person speech) we have limitations at home, I don't know why she isn't listening to you!julie