Wednesday, February 27, 2013

preschool fights

...and my heart keeps breaking. I got home from work the other night and found Kevin and the kids in Parker's room playing. I got my hugs and kisses (Avery ignored me until I asked her to give me a hug and kiss, which she did) and played for a bit. Then Kevin prompted Parker to tell me what happened at school. So I geared myself up: either Parker did something he wasn't supposed to or he did something cool/fun. What I learned next broke my heart. Here's how the conversation went:

Kevin: "Tell Mommy why your teacher took your glasses off." 

Parker: "Blue shorts punch my nose. I cry. He go timeout."

Me: "What?!?"

Kevin: "Apparently a kid wearing blue shorts punched him in the nose, he cried, the teacher took his glasses off (assuming to take care of Parker), and sent the other kid to timeout."

Now I know to take things that Parker says with a grain of salt. His speech isn't all that great and he has learned how to lie fib a little, but he usually trips himself up by laughing or telling the truth 5 seconds later. And his fibs are usually pretty transparent and aren't complex. For example if I ask him why his sister is crying (she's got a specific cry that's reserved for Bubba  aggrieving her in some sort of way) and his reply is: "I no hit Sissy." or "Sissy hit me!"...well duh of course he hit her! Or if I ask him if he has put his toys away and he hasn't, he'll say "yes" while smiling. This time Parker kept saying the same thing over and over again. I also asked him a few additional questions to try and get a better understanding of what happened, but he wasn't able to clarify much.

Me: "Why did 'blue shorts' punch your nose?"

Parker: "Umm, 'blue shorts' punch my nose and go timeout."

Me: "Did you hit 'blue shorts'?"

Parker: "Yes I hit."

Me: "Did you hit 'blue shorts' first?"

Parker: "I hit blue shorts."

Me: "Did you go to timeout?"

Parker: "No. Blue shorts go timeout."

Kevin said that he really didn't get a chance to talk to the teacher when he picked Parker up b/c Parker ran straight to him. Kevin's a little different than me...I LOVE information. I NEED information. Especially when I'm not with the kids. It's not even just because they are in daycare. I ask Kevin, my mom, whoever is watching the kids what they ate, how much they ate, how long did they nap for, how were they overall...lots of questions. Call me crazy, but I've been that way since Parker was a newborn. I just like to know...I suppose it's my way trying to be in control when I'm not with the kids. I feel like Kevin can take the info or leave it. It drives me nuts when I ask him the details and he tells me he forgot. Bless him, he knows how OCD I get so he has gotten so much better about giving me details.

I don't know why I was so surprised and taken aback by this. Parker wears glasses and I know how mean kids can be so I've already thought about Parker getting teased. My imagination ran wild and I started to think about whether this little boy was bullying Parker b/c of his glasses. Truthfully I wasn't prepared for dealing with bullying or teasing. I didn't think it would happen this early on. And I know hitting goes on at pre-school. You've got a bunch of 3 year olds who can't always verbalize their needs and wants and frustration runs high and kids can lash out to vent some of their feelings. But when I heard the word "punch", it just triggered something deeper, it's bigger than just a little whack on the arm. That and he was punched in his face...on his if this little boy really knew how to punch.

After a few minutes of talking to Parker, I dropped the topic, but I was mad, confused, and hurting inside for my little boy. My question was, why didn't the teacher, even if she was busy, say: "Can you wait a sec, I need to discuss something with you." Or even send a note home to tell me that Parker was involved in an altercation. I don't need to know what "blue shorts" name is. I understand that they need to protect the other child's privacy. But I also have a right to know that my kid was punched in the face and was hurt badly enough that he cried (he's not a crier like that either) and the teacher had to take his glasses off to assess the damage (there's none that I could see that night, but he could have been gushing blood for all I know...ok so Parker probably would have told me that). No, I don't need to know each and every time Parker gets hit or pushed b/c that's part of going to preschool and being around lots of other kids that are the same age. But this seemed a little more serious and I was a little ticked off...not because it happened. Ok so a little bit because of that, but mostly because I was not informed by the school. 

Well I talked to the preschool director, which I should mention was absolutely fantastic in helping me out with an issue prior to Parker starting preschool and she was wonderful while discussing the issue. I just wanted to know exactly what happened and what their normal procedure is when something like this happens. She advised she wasn't aware anything had happened, but would talk to his teachers. Here's what she was able to tell me (again she couldn't be specific, which I was ok with, for privacy reasons): Parker pushed a little boy whose first reaction is to hit or punch. The teacher saw all this happen and took Parker aside to check him out and the other little boy was talked to and removed from the situation. Parker didn't cry and his glasses weren't taken off (Not sure I believe this part b/c I don't think Parker would just make it up...his fibbing level is just not there and he said it so matter of fact and on more than one occasion). A notice of incident was written and sent home with the little boy. I told Ms. Allen that I was worried that Parker provoked the other kid or instigated the whole thing. She said that according to the teacher, Parker didn't push in a mean way and it happened while playing and it wasn't hard. Apparently "blue shorts" has a history of hitting and punching and it is something the school and his parents are working on. Ms. Allen apologized that a letter wasn't sent home with Parker and it wasn't discussed at pickup and that she talked to the teacher about the importance of filling out the forms to send home for both parents. I made it clear I don't expect them to tell me about every little hit or shove, but on more serious things then I def need to know, which she understood and agreed with. 

I talked to a friend who told me that when she picked her son up from preschool the other day, she found him in timeout with 6 other boys for ganging up on another child...well as much ganging up an almost 4 year old can do. The teacher said: "Don't worry, he was a follower and not the leader." my friend should have been glad that her son didn't lead the other kids into bullying and instead followed others...the end result is the same...another kid was ganged up on. Ugh! She talked to her son about it and I think that's the important part. Whenever Parker's speech therapist tells me about Parker hitting, acting aggressive, upsetting a friend for repeatedly calling him a chipmunk (you laugh, but this really happened) I made sure to talk to him during the drive home from school. He was also prompted to tell Daddy when he got home and at night time while we are snuggling we talk about what happened that day and what he could have done/said to prevent him from hurting/upsetting his friends or to prevent him from going to time out. I give him gentle reminders again as we drive to school and right before he gets out of the car he recites (without any prompting from me): "I no hit. I no say chipmunk in my school." Repetition is key with Parker and lots of reminders so this definitely helps him.

So my first line of defense is to talk to Parker, but then what??? If he gets hit, punched, or shoved what should he do? I'm not trying to throw anyone under the bus, but my husband was told by his fiery Italian momma that if someone hit him first then she was ok with him hitting back as long as he didn't get caught. Sounds crazy? Yeah I thought so too and laughed when my husband first told me this ages ago. Don't think badly of my mother in law. She raised 4 wonderful kids, but she wasn't about to let her kids get beat up on and she would be the first one to beat them with a spatula if they ever started a fight. lol Anyway, this got me thinking and my momma bear instinct tells me to teach Parker how to punch. Yeah yeah, he's 3.5 (almost), but next time "blue shorts" punches Parker and Parker hits back then maybe "blue shorts" will think twice about hitting Parker next time (ok I know Parker started this incident with pushing, but I'm just saying if it was unprovoked next time!). 

So what is it: teach your kid that fighting/hitting is not a solution and have him get beat up? Teach him to tell the teacher so that he gets branded as a tattle tell? Do you teach him to fight back and defend himself so that other kids doesn't see him as an easy target? For now, I told Parker to tell the little boy firmly to not hit him, walk away and tell the teacher. If "blue shorts" hits him again then we will have issues and I'll be marching my butt up to the school and then I'll teach Parker how to really punch. What would you do or say to your child? I may be blowing this out of proportion, but it's my momma bear coming out and I just want to protect my little cub. How would you have reacted? 

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