The Continuing Trials of a Five Year Old Boy

23 Sep

When RJ gets off the school bus, he usually isn’t ready to talk about his day. He often slumps off the bus looking sad and dejected. I don’t press him for details right away because I know he needs time to relax and decompress.

Truth be told, I really think RJ is having trouble adjusting to a (mostly) full week of school. This kid is a total homebody and he wants to be home all the time. Because he’s out at school four days a week, he never wants to leave the house, and he flips out when we do actually make him leave. He’s also exhausted from full days (and I can’t figure out how to make him get more sleep) and his exhaustion is manifested in major freakouts, as evidenced through Friday’s bowl-smashing fun!

In addition to dealing with the freakouts, Jason and I are navigating new an uncharted parenting territory.

Up first, the stealing incident:

One day RJ excitedly showed me a red piece of plastic that he brought home from school. He said it was a cool Lego block he took from the Lego bin in his class.

Oh dear.

Needless to say we had a long conversation about stealing and why it’s wrong. We told RJ he had to take the piece to his teacher and tell her that he took it home because he thought it was cool but he now understands now that what he did was stealing and he knows stealing is wrong. And he won’t do it again. After school that day, RJ reported that his teacher was pleased and said “Bien RJ, Merci!”

Up next, the spoon incident:

One evening, I heard RJ talking quietly to Jason over a table full of Lego. RJ divulged that he feels sad at school when his friends make fun of him. Apparently he is the object of classmate ridicule when he brings small colourful (baby) spoons to school (for his yogurt).

I felt so bad when I heard this because I kept putting the small spoons in his lunch bag because I liked them and found them to be adorable. I didn’t realize a bunch of five year olds would even take notice of what kind of spoon one of their peers was using.

And finally, the fight incident:

This is a long one…

A week ago, RJ was playing at the house next door to my mom. Both RJ and the grandson of the next-door neighbour love to play with the girl who lives across the street (from my mom). Both boys want the girl to themself and playing as a group of three is always strained. On this particular evening, all three kids were in my mom’s next-door neighbour’s yard. I went inside to eat dinner but came back out quickly when I heard crying.

Apparently the little girl tossed a watering can over the fence into my mom’s yard and this made RJ angry because he wanted to play with it. He told the little girl he needed to be alone for awhile so he could calm down. But he continued to get angrier because the little girl keep following him. She wouldn’t leave him alone so RJ lashed out and kicked her in the knee and scratched at her. Then the little girl went to cry in the garage and RJ cried behind the garage.

I told RJ he did the right thing by walking away to be alone for a bit when he first started getting angry. I told him that I understood why he lashed out with force and I also told him he would have to apologize. Then we talked about how he could have avoided using physical violence as a solution and talked about what to do in future situations. I think he understood. By this past weekend there were no hard feelings and the kids played together on Saturday.

Aside from the physical outburst, something else is bothering me about their little fight. In past interactions, my mom has witnessed the little girl get angry and then tell the boys she’s upset and needs some alone time. Both boys stay away from her until she’s ready to play. Which is awesome! But how come the little girl won’t return the favour when my boy is upset and needs to cool down? So little girl is upset and declares her need for solitude and that need is respected. Thank you RJ for being attentive and respectful. But when little RJ is upset and declares his need for solitude, the need is ignored, prompting a physical reaction. Thank you RJ for recognizing your anger and trying to regain control…but also, please don’t hit and scratch! The inconsistency is enough to freak anyone out.

Part of the reason why raising children is so hard is because every parent does it differently. Different doesn’t necessarily mean wrong, but RJ is a child that thrives on consistency and routines. Learning to navigate the behaviors of other children is probably stressful and mind boggling.

Not only is he learning to deal with how other children behave and act, but he’s also in school from 8:30 to 3pm, he’s learning a new language, and he misses being home. Oh, and the back-to-school germs are plentiful (colds for everyone!). When he gets off the bus, he doesn’t get to just sit and relax usually because there is a two year old waiting to jump on him and tackle him. The two year old doesn’t understand that RJ needs an hour of quiet solitude.

My mind is pretty boggled right now too. There’s a steep learning curve (at least for me) when a child starts school.

I’m hoping that the discussions Jason and I are having with RJ after each incident is setting a firm foundation of good values and morals. We also want RJ to know that he can talk to us about anything that is going on in his life. No matter what, we’re here to listen.

4 Responses to “The Continuing Trials of a Five Year Old Boy”

  1. ssowerby September 23, 2013 at 3:53 pm #

    You are doing a great job. This is all a part of adjusting to a new routine. I think he will figure it out. The first few weeks of even half days Rusty was a mess when he came home. Now he is usually his fine and chipper self! It just took some adjustment. I actually thought it was a blessing on the days that I was working because I would go and get him and then let him come back to my classroom and watch a show while I finished up my work. That seemed to give him the downtime he needed to decompress. Is there a way you can let RJ be alone and have some time watching a show or playing lego on his own? I know it is hard for JP becuase he wants to see his big bro but it is important for RJ to get that time to destress.

    Also, seriously? They were teasing him about SPOONS??? Ugh. Now I need to ask Rusty. I have sent kiddie spoons for his lunch as well. Seriously? I don’t get it. Poor kid. Tell RJ I think his colorful spoons rock. At least he talked to Jason about it and you were able to find out and do something.

    • L.W. September 23, 2013 at 9:29 pm #

      That’s nice that Rusty could decompress in your class with you. I think you’re right that RJ needs some alone time right after school. I hope I can make that happen for him.

      And yes spoons! A friend JUST texted me to say her son was made fun of for using baby spoons with yogurt last year. Apparently it’s a thing! I gave RJ a silver spoon today. Oh well.

  2. Lisa September 23, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

    From what I hear, consistency is key. It is a big adjustment for the whole family. Keep at it hun, you rock!

    • L.W. September 23, 2013 at 9:26 pm #

      I agree about consistency. It’s hard sometimes though!

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