You all know the type I’m talking about. If you weren’t one yourself, you can probably still name the kindergarten class clown or the mean kid in second grade who spent more time in the principal’s office than homeroom. But what happens when you’re the parent of said rabble-rouser?
(For the record, this is one piece I hope my kids don’t read for awhile, at least not until they have their own kids and will GET IT.)
My son was an only child for almost six full years, until my daughter was born. And he’s been pretty easy to raise, even with the normal selective hearing, messiness, and general kid-ness that comes with, well, being a kid. When it comes to parenting my son, I mostly just follow his lead. He’s smart as a whip, has a great sense of humor, makes friends easily, charms teachers, and is easily bribed. (You parents know what’s up.)
In his seven years of formal education, he has never gotten called to the principal’s office, unless you count the time he got a Golden Office Referral for good behavior. He received one Yellow Card for misbehavior from his after-school teacher in all his years attending an after-school program, and when the office assistant handed the Yellow Card to me she said, “The other kid deserved it.” (“It” being my son yelling at him for not giving a sh*t about anyone else. End quote, cue the grown-ups stifling our laughter.)
My son will change this world one day.
Now let me tell you about my daughter. She is also smart and funny and kind and charming.
She’s been in school for one whopping month. She has already received three Yellow Dots from her Kindergarten teacher for making poor choices and two Yellow Cards from the same after-school program as my son. She’s gunning for a family record, I think.
I don’t believe in bad kids, and even if I did, my daughter is not “bad.” She’s strong-willed and determined, with an all-too-familiar stubborn streak a mile wide. She knows what she wants, when she wants it, and a reason why if she can’t have it.
My daughter? She will lead this world one day.
But that one day feels awfully far from the Yellow Dots and the notes sent home. I want (and honestly, need) to honor her teachers’ requests for my daughter to follow their rules, even if it’s solely for the sake of following and falling in line. I get that at this age, teachers are basically spending all day herding cats. Clingy, exhausted, transitioning, super-cute-but-probably-sticky cats.
But I’m also not too keen on squelching the girl who marches and squeals, lives and laughs a little too loudly, and just does not see the point of sitting quietly and coloring yet another sheet. There is a way-too-delicate balance between helping her understand when to sit tight and when to let loose, and celebrating — encouraging — that wide-eyed, magic-filled joy she has for simply being.
She has not been and will not be my easy child. That seat’s taken. She probably won’t be the teacher’s pet, and I’m really not banking on ever seeing her earn the coveted Pink Dot in her behavior folder.
Whether she likes it or not, we’ll survive the rules and the Yellow Dots and the calls to the principal’s office. (Child, where do you think you got that stubbornness? I wrote the BOOK.)
Between the two of us, we will survive. And then? Then the days will come when I’ll really get to see her thrive.
(Image: posted by Reddit user MartyZ)
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Jessica Buttram parents, writes, laughs, and eats too much chocolate. She has no practical advice and zero life hacks to offer for this whole parenting gig, but she makes a mean grilled cheese sandwich, and that’s something, right? When she’s not bribing her kids with Doritos to make them sit still and snuggle for just a few minutes longer, she can probably be found vacuuming Dorito crumbs out of the couch. Her family is her whole world, except for the part that belongs to coffee. You can find her @jbuttwhatwhat and meetthebuttrams.com.