Labels are sometimes the most detrimental ways we can stunt a child from flourishing. How easy is it when we see a child misbehaving in the mall, to turn to a friend or partner and call those children bad or to look at the parents and criticize the way they parent their children. I have been guilty of this many times until I got to know my oldest son.
My eldest son is four years old and just completed preschool. If I was to paint a picture of my son with words I would say he is a curious, creative, goofy, easily excitable, and loud little boy with a love for all things green, floral, robotic or on wheels. He is a free spirit that loves to move from activity to activity on his own time and takes many moments to pause and observe EVERYTHING. He learns when no one is looking, he climbs to highest peaks that will hold him, with very little fear, and challenges most everything.
On the flip side of this larger than life personality is the challenges that come with parenting him. He is easily frustrated, he has big anger, love, hate, sadness and he has no issue with throwing temper tantrums anywhere. One of the biggest challenges we face is trying to get and keep his attention. Unfortunately it is this challenge that has overwhelmed his preschool teacher this year. We recently sat through a meeting with the resource teacher and his homeroom teacher and listened to her express her frustration for spending so much time on our son all year while 26 other students suffered. The guilt you feel as a parent realizing that your child is indeed beyond your control is immense. We set boundaries for our son, we expect him to listen when we give him instruction, there are always consequences for his actions. But how does a child wear out the use of his name and the class time-out spot without some blame given to the parents? We could try to beat our son into submission, but I fear the cost to his person-hood would be too great.
Fortunately for us as his parents, we hold enough creativity to try to work with our son, unfortunately for his teacher she did not hold the creativity needed to work with him. It breaks my heart that he has been labelled as a bad kid this year, and that he spent three quarters of most days on time outs at school. I am not blind to my son’s challenges, nor do I blame his behaviour on his teacher. The truth is that even with three Educational Assistants in the classroom 27 preschool students is a lot to work with and help flourish. I merely think we all could have done better.
It’s amazing to think that our son who had so much trouble in school still managed to learn all his letters and their sounds, how to read and spell many three and four letter words, count to 20+ and backwards from 10, the words to Oh Canada, how to write his name, to almost colour in the lines, spell all the basic colours, draw pictures that are fairly recognizable, recite countless poems from memory, and how to zip up his coat. For a bad boy he did pretty well this year, and I will not lose sight of his successes because of someone’s judgements. Onward and forward into kindergarten he goes, I will swallow my shame and exchange it for pride.
P.S Never judge a book by it’s cover.