Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Parent vs. Parent

I got an e-mail from Michael's teacher on Monday afternoon. He was sent to the principal's office because he threw his work at the teacher WHILE he was yelling at her. Ah, another proud parenting moment. She was just informing us of this "incident" and letting us know that a formal notice will be sent home this week from the front office. Ooo, let me run to mailbox and get ready to scrapbook this momentous occassion.

I'm sarcastic, I know. So, when my darling husband got home that night, we discussed the matter and decided that we would talk to the child together. Well, I guess I need a new dictionary because apparently the new meaning of "together" is "Frank alone". He was helping Michael with his homework and then started talking to him about the incident. So I stood outside the bedroom door, silently fuming. I mean, the teacher e-mailed ME! I should get to be the one to have the conversation alone, not him! Oh, and I'm childish, too. I wait a few minutes and then crept in to the room and joined the conversation while giving my husband the 'look' that said "I'll deal with YOU later". My son cried, he said that it all didn't happen like the teacher said, blah, blah, blah. Like every parent in America hasn't heard THAT line before.

As fate would have it, we had a parent-teacher conference scheduled for the next day already so I will now get to speak to the teacher face-to-face and see what in the world is going on at school. Now just so you know, I am not one-bit surprised by this incident. Michael is easily frustrated. He yells at US all the time. He gets in great trouble every time and yet he continues to yell. So I went to the conference, spent 45 minutes with the teacher, we brainstormed on ways to help him de-stress in certain situations and I walked away feeling really good. My husband could not find the time to make the conference. His schedule is not really flexible, so I understood.

Our children are mini versions of us - separately. Nick is all me, Michael is all my husband. So when Nick does something stupid, I can almost see his logic. His father does not. When Michael does something stupid, I am lost while his father totally gets it. It makes for interesting parenting, that's for sure. In all of the aspects of marriage, disciplining our children is where Frank and I disagree the most. Making the punishment fit the crime is hard to agree on when we each view the crime differently. For example, if Nick forgets his keys (which he does a LOT and it's annoying), I don't get upset because 99.9% of the time, we are home and he doesn't NEED the keys. This is a huge offense to my husband. "Why won't he take his keys?" "Why is he so irresponsible?" I just don't see it that way. So while Frank will lecture our son on being a responsible adult, I'm thinking "Look, he got in to the house! No windows were broken and we're all still sitting here alive to talk about it." See, different views of the crime.

In this case with Michael, I am seeing a child who is disrespectful with his yelling, he sits alone in class (although so do 4 other students) and he had to be sent to the principal's office. This is HUGE to me. To Frank? "He's only 8. He'll outgrow this."


Seriously? He'll outgrow it? WHEN??? Because I'm telling you, it's not soon enough. I don't want my child to be the problem child. I don't want him 'red-flagged' like some delinquent case. I don't want him on a first-name basis with the principal! So I tell Frank about the solutions that the teacher and I came up with , and he's not on board with any of them. Why? Because the boy is only 8 and he will outgrow this. He'll learn to handle his frustration. We'll talk to him. Blah, blah, blab-bee-dee-blah, blah. Okay, because TALKING to the child has worked so well up to this point. Different views of the crime. So I'm back to square one. The teacher is going to go and do what she needs to do to make her classroom run smoothly and I am backing her 100%. At home, it's still a work in progress. I wanted to sort of have some consistency for the boy in both places but clearly that is not going to happen. I can only do what I can do.

But in what was clearly an "I TOLD YOU SO" moment, after dinner last night, Frank asked Michael to do something, he didn't do it and then yelled at Frank and I just sat back and watched everyone's frustration level rise to the breaking point until finally Frank yelled for me and said "Can you help us out here?"

The snarky part of me wanted to say "Why? There doesn't seem to be a problem." But I didn't.

See, smart AND pretty.

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