Wednesday, April 1, 2009

19 and other tricky concepts

There are few things I love more than listening to my kids talk to one another. They are trying so hard to piece together the world, and much the same way I do, they often have to fill in the blanks.

My oldest son is in kindergarten this year, and it's been extremely exciting. He loves going to school every day, even if he doesn't love getting up. He tells me he has 4 friends (though their identities vary) and that there's not that many girls that like him. He tells me he's being bullied, but when I talked to his teacher, she said that it was a pretty boy-heavy class this year; he's not being targeted, there's just a lot of boy energy going around the room, with a lot of rough play and some fights. Then, a few weeks after that conversation, I happened to walk him to school (he usually gets a ride). I decided to take the chance to poke through the lost and found for the various hats and mittens that have gone missing this year (no luck). And as I was on my way back toward the door, his teacher hailed me. It seemed that she had been out one day recently, and she wanted to know if I had heard about the "incident." I hadn't, and of course I immediately wondered what my kid had done. I shouldn't have worried--about that--because as it turns out, another student had choked him because he wanted my son's crayon. That's right, strangled over a crayon. She assured me that she was dealing with it and had spoken with the other child, but in case my son had said anything, she wanted to make sure I knew it was being handled.

Of course, I told my husband about it that evening, and we both sort of had the same reaction--that we were very surprised that it had happened but more surprised that he hadn't said anything. So after dinner that night, I asked him: Are you doing okay in school? Yes. Are you getting along okay with the other kids? Yes. I heard you had trouble with another kid the other day. No. Okay, cards on the table: Your teacher told me that another kid tried to choke you--that he put his hands on your neck. Do you remember this? No. Can I watch my show?

I couldn't get over this: My kid keeps telling me that he's being picked on, that there are bullies in his class, but it's no more than what he deals with from his little brother at home. But the one time he has every right to complain, that a kid actually is mean to him, he not only doesn't mention it; he apparently doesn't even remember.

Some time later, there was a day when both my boys went to work with Daddy one day. While they were there, he got them each a little toy from the hospital gift shop--a miniature measuring tape. They love the real ones and are always getting in trouble for playing with them, so these were extra cool toys. In the car on the way home, they were measuring everything in sight--the windows, their seats, one another. And my oldest said something about 21 inches. So I said, "You were 21 inches long when you were born. Your brother was 19 inches long. Can you find 19 inches?" He's been having trouble with the teen numbers, mixing up 19 and 90, for example, so learning to properly identify all the teens has been a math goal lately. He worked hard for several minutes, looking all over his measuring tape, considering and then rejecting several choices. Finally, very thoughtfully, he announced, "I found 19. Except it has a 2 in it."

Never stop finding the answers, my son. And in the absence of any useful answers, never stop provinding your own.

1 comment:

LuLu and Moxley's Mom said...

I hate the idea of my kids someday being picked on in school. I'd have to stop myself from marching into school and kicking the bully's butt myself.