Jan 20, 2012

And now, for the rest of the story

Remember all those cute treats I shared pictures of in my last post? The spider/suckers, the mice/kisses, the Bugles? I was proud of those. I worked hard finding things like that online, then preparing them for Sara Madalin's class. I was so excited about their party because I thought they would all enjoy it so much and it would be a sweet memory for them. Sara Madalin was excited - for the party, but most importantly, because she knew that she was going to get to eat some of those chocolate mice I carried.

But there's more to the story than I shared in my last post. And I feel like I would be deceiving people that read our blog if I didn't share the rest of the story that goes with that post about the party. For one thing, I don't want people to think I try to paint a picture that our family is all about smocked dresses, hair bows, and fun parties. And when Sara Madalin looks back at this blog one day, I want her to know why we made some of the tough choices we had to when she was a child. So, I have to be honest and share that Sara Madalin didn't get to enjoy those treats or the party. She didn't even get to go to school today.

Thursday when I dropped her off at school, I also dropped off the treats I had prepared. The party wasn't until Friday, but I wanted to drop those things off because it was quite a bit and I didn't want to wait until Friday when I had it all prepared anyway. So, I dropped SM and the treats off and went to church where I've started volunteering as a conversational partner in ESL classes. I was there for a couple hours, then had plans to meet some of the ladies from my SS class for lunch in honor of one of our friends who is having a baby next week. I had just parked at the restaurant and my phone rang. I saw the name of SM's school on my ID. It was the preschool administrator and she told me that SM had bitten another child and that she was being very aggressive at school. They asked if I could come pick her up. I said I'd be right there.

The day before (Wednesday) she had scratched her friend Wright. Miss Melodi had told me about that when I picked her up. I made her apologize to him and they hugged and made up. She was punished for her behavior by not being allowed to watch any movies for the rest of the day. (We have been working to find which punishment really worlds best for her. We spank her, we put her in time out, we take toys and privileges. Usually, taking privileges like movies works best for her.) I thought Thursday would be a good day for her. She was sweet on the way to school. She even prayed that God would help her to be kind to her friends and not bite, scratch, pinch, shove, or hit. SHE prayed that. Not me. So, when I was called, I was shocked by her behavior.

When I picked her up, I had already decided the punishment I would have to issue. I knew it was going to have to be drastic, and some might even think mean. I picked her up, loaded her in the car and asked if she knew why Mommy was there to pick her up early from school. She did. She told me who she had bitten and why. Then I told her that she would be staying at home with me on Friday. It meant that she would miss Show and Tell. It meant that she would miss school. But what upset her the most was that she would miss the party. It broke my heart when she started crying. As a matter of fact, we were both crying. I think I was more upset than her because I realized she's missing a party that will be the only one of its kind in her little life. I hate for her to miss something special and fun. But through my tears I had to explain to her that she could not treat her friends like that. She could not bite and scratch and hit. I tried to explain that those kinds of actions have consequences. I really don't know if she understands that yet. But she will learn, and I would rather it be a lesson that we teach as her parents, than one she learns later in life in a much harder, more damaging way.

So, we went home, I put her down for a nap, and we went about our day. Her teacher called me last night and we discussed what had happened. She was very encouraging and told me that SM is not the only child this age that has bitten. She's not the only one that has struggled with aggression. She also told me that she would miss Sara Madalin on Friday, but she understood that was her punishment and that she supported me in that decision. I wanted her to know that I wasn't keeping Sara Madalin home because I was upset about being called. It wasn't that at all. I'm thankful that she is in such good care at school and that discipline is as important to her teacher as it is to us. I kept her home, and reminded her why she was here and what her friends were doing, so that hopefully she thinks twice next time before she takes her frustration and aggression out on her friends.

We've had a good day so far. We got up at her regular time, 6:30. I had her help me strip the linens off all the beds and made her carry them to the laundry room. Although, she enjoys helping me, so I'm not sure she understood that was part of her punishment. We cleaned her room, bathroom, the den, and kitchen. She's gotten several hugs and kisses and has been really sweet and well-mannered. I did remind her at 10:00 that her friends were having their party and asked her if she remembered why she wasn't there with them. She did and told me again who she had bitten. I reminded her that we don't treat people that way. After that, I don't plan on mentioning it again. I'm not going to continue to guilt her for something that she's already been punished for. For her snack, I let her help make some muffins. She has watched a couple of episodes of Bubble Guppies and we're about to get ready for lunch, then her rest. We may go out and run an errand or two this afternoon. I'm not sure if her punishment will make her change her behavior or attitude at school, but I do know that controlling her temper and aggression is a lesson that she will learn. And maybe I'll survive to see it.

Another thing I wanted to note about yesterday is that I am thankful that God has placed women in my life who are as flawed and imperfect as me. There are people that will read about our life yesterday and say, "Oh, my child would never do that." or "I never had to discipline my child for those things." or whatever else perfect people like to say about their perfect children. But yesterday God gave me a couple friends who reminded me that no child is perfect, and no parent is either. But thankfully we serve a perfect God who can give us wisdom and strength and guidance. And I'm thankful that He does that through some special friends that let me vent to yesterday and who gave me Godly advise and support.

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Jennifer Serna said...

Another reason I enjoy stopping by to read your blog...because it' real. It's encouraging and I always come away with a lesson learned. I loved reading your post about making blessing bags for the needy..wonderful idea. I pray that you will continue to share your blog openly. Praying that God will richly bless you and your family.

The Stairs Family said...

I think that the punishment fit the crime perfectly. Ive read since you got SM and have always thought she reminded me of my own 3 year old. They have SUCH similar personalities and behaviors. I think what you did was very admirable and something she will likely remember, more so than 3 minutes in a corner or a barbie being taken away. She will know that if she treats her friends that way, she will not be allowed to play with them. I think you are a GREAT mom- while others think you spoil her with treats and trips- I think its so obvious that you spoil her with the love and discipline- the 2 things that will really shape her into the person she will become. I really admire you as a mom!

MJ said...

I admire your honesty. My kindergartener went through a biting phase...yes in kinder. He had been in preschool for 2 years without biting. I was shocked. He ended up missing his fieldtrip and a school viewing of a play due to ISS. It broke my heart also. I have no photos of him during the field trip like I have of his 3 siblings. Parenting is tough love. Just know that you are showing SM your love for her by teaching her right from wrong. Hang in there.

bella said...

I think you are a wonderful mother!!! You are teaching her that there are consequences for her behavior. All children are challenging in one way or another. Thank you for being so honest.

Courtney said...

I think you are a wonderful mother and commend you for doing something that was difficult. My nephew sounds a lot like Sara. He was not allowed to be in his Thanksgiving program(the night of) so we all stayed and watched the program while Logan went home. It was tough but I think the best in the end. As a teacher, I wish more parents would take a stand with their children.

Penny said...

My Nannie always said, "What mine (children) won't do, is frost bit and dead." Crazy way to say that kids will do anything, but it stuck with me. I've been through it all since becoming a mom 27 years ago! lol There are no perfect parents~ no perfect children. The good news is that the grands are closer to perfect. ;) I'm thinking the great-grands might make even reach perfection. LOL (NO, I don't have any greats~ hopefully, that will be decades from now.)
I truly hope SM learned from this, but if that wasn't the last bite~ don't blame yourself. With consistency, she WILL get it~ eventually. :)

Colleen said...

I love reading your blog. My sister adopted he firt baby in July after years of not being able to have kids of her own. I tell her to come read your blog all the time. She has a similar story as yours. Anyway from what I see and all the pictures you post, you seem to give that baby all the attention she deserves. Keep it up mama.