This whole mothering a boy thing can be a bit perplexing. Mr 6 has pretty much always been a mama’s boy. He has been gentle, sensitive, caring. I’m not sure if it’s his nature, our nurture, being an only child, or a combination of all those things that have made him this way.
We I fraught over sending him to school last year because he is born on the cut off date. I was worried that he was too young emotionally to handle school and all that comes with it. I needn’t have worried, because he did just fine.
Then I worried about the jump to grade 1 – a few people, teachers included, had told me how big a jump it was from prep to grade 1. Half way through the year, the teacher said he was doing really well, was ahead of where he needed to be and on track to be well ahead by the end of the school year.
Then it happened. The first pink slip to come home. A pink slip is a detention notice that gets sent home to the parents. To make matters worse, his detention was for punching another child. In the stomach. My son, who for 6 years had been so kind and gentle and wouldn’t hurt a fly, had been physically violent at school.
I flew a little bit off the handle. I took privileges away. I told him how disappointed I was in him. I made a big huge massive deal about it. After talking to the teacher, I felt a bit better. She said she knew it was out of character for him, and that she wasn’t going to dwell on it. She said he would serve his detention and she was sure that would be the end of it. She said she would focus on the positives and positive reinforcement, he responds well to that. I was so grateful he had such a great teacher.
The next week another pink slip came home. Again for punching. This time he had punched a different child in the “arm, neck and head.” This time, both the teacher and I were in tears. Both disappointed. Both concerned about what was going on with this little man of ours. This time detention was two days in a row. But he still didn’t seem to be grasping how serious punching at school was. I tried to explain that if mummy or daddy went out in the street and punched someone the police would come and take us to jail. It started to sink in, I think.
In the following two weeks, he got the pick of the prize box (reward system in class) three times, a “Fantastic!” arm band for great work in maths, and two gold cards – one for trying really hard with his writing and one that made me more proud than any math, writing or reading award ever could. His second gold card was “for being a fabulous friend to Piper.” One of his classmates was sad because her dad was in hospital, and my son was the one who cheered her up.
How you can be so disappointed and unsure if you even know your child one minute, and prouder than a weight watchers client who just said no to cake the next, is one of the great wonders of parenting. That my son would punch two kids, two weeks apart surprised the pants of me. That he was kind, gentle and tender to a classmate in pain did not surprise me at all.
As he learns to navigate the school ground hierarchy and politics, we learn to navigate parenting a boy who is on his own roller-coaster of emotions and hormones. Parenting a boy is one of the more perplexing things I’ve ever done. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.