This is me at 4:15PM. 5 minutes before Brady gets home from school. We have been slowly working our way through school year struggles, and this is my last remaining struggle – how to transition him from school to home.
It started the first day of 1st grade. His first day of “all day” school. When it came time for him to get on the bus, he threw himself to the grass and cried hysterically. I drove him to school, and had to physically DRAG HIM into the building. I left him in the capable hands of the school social worker who assured me that everything would be ok, “just go ahead and leave.” As I turned to leave the office, I could hear him struggling to break free from the social worker, and his screams, “MOMMY! PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME! I JUST NEED ONE MORE KISS! MOMMY!!”
(insert heartbreak here)
Fortunately, a sticker chart solved that issue. With the promise of a Nerf gun for 20 “no tears” mornings, Brady happily gets on the bus and heads to school.
The next school challenge was getting him to eat his lunch. For as long as I can remember he has been a shy eater. Holidays, family functions, birthday parties…we pretty much have to pre-feed him, or risk the hangry monster devouring our souls. With the help of a friend with MANY extra Pokemon cards, I was able to bribe him with one Pokemon card per day for eating his lunch.
Just when I thought I had it all figured out, we now have daily melt downs when he comes home.
So we brace. We quickly organize all the toys just in case someone touched a toy of his. We clean the clutter from the counters. We move the girls to their designated stools at the counter so that nobody is in “his seat”. I double check and triple check that his room looks EXACTLY how he left it that morning (I take pictures), and I hastily throw dinner on the stove so I can give him my FULL attention. Just in case…you know…he has a melt down.
Even after all these precautions, we still get about 35% melt down days. To say we are walking on egg shells is an under statement.
And then I’m faced every day with “parent bullies”. You know these people. We all know them. They sit behind their laptop typing with utmost confidence that they would never “let that fly in my house”, or that they would “show that kid who’s boss!”. My absolute favorite are the parents who proclaim, “if my kids ever behaved that way, I’d put them over my knee!!”
But would you? Would you really? And if you would really spank your child, would it accomplish what you were hoping for? Would it teach your 6 year old how to properly handle the difficult transition between home and school? Would a “swift kick in the ass” teach my 6 year old son how to deal with the frustration of having to share toys with his two younger sister? Would a long time out teach him how to handle his fear of trying new things?
And let’s talk about the logistics of spanking. What age do you start spanking? Newborns? 2 year olds? What age do you STOP spanking?? Lord knows you can’t spank a 19 year old. How many times do you strike your child? 2? 6? And what if, WHAT IF the behavior that got your child in trouble to begin with was hitting. Am I supposed to spank a 6 year old to teach him not to hit his sister?? What are we really hoping for by spanking?? Does it teach a life skill that applies ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD??
Grown Ups at work: “Hey Margaret, you didn’t finish the project that was due today, so I’m sure you understand that now I have to spank you.”
Other Grown Ups at work: “Listen Dave, your quarterly report was a mess. Park yourself in the corner mister, and no iPhone for 20 minutes.”
You might not understand, but I am trying to teach my son how to properly deal with his emotions. Just like kids aren’t born knowing how to share, kids aren’t born knowing how to handle tough situations. Their initial reaction is going to be to have an outburst. Some kids yell, others throw toys, some hit…and some do all three in rapid succession. These kids aren’t “bad”. They just are in a situation that is above their current capacity to handle. As their parents, it’s our job to teach our kids how to be emotionally ready for the world…and spanking them isn’t going to accomplish that.
So while I have most of my struggles figured out, there is still one huge hurdle to overcome. And I’m working on it. Every day I read, think and pray for a solution to this issue. Every day I try and carve out 5 minutes to myself before he comes home, just so I can ensure I have some reserves in the tank. Because this is a tough time for me too. I’m tired, he’s tired, and I’m just trying to make it out of this alive.