Recently, my parenting skills were put to the test. I had to defend Mister Almost 4’s helpful behaviour to another parent and at the same time I discovered that he lied (about another matter) to me.
This was how it went down last Friday… I went to pick up Mister Almost 4 from daycare and found him waving a jacket (not his) in front of another mom. When that mother bent over to speak to him, his arms dropped and so did his enthusiasm. I stepped into the classroom to find that half the class was lining up for the potty with the ECE and the other half was running wild in the classroom.
As I approached them, the mother smiled and told me that my son had just taken her son’s jacket. I bent down to speak to him:
Hey, Mister, how’s it going? What’s that in your hands?
It’s [Bob]’s jacket. I took it off for him.
Why did you do that?
So I can lift him and bring him to his mommy.
That’s very sweet of you. Did [Bob] or his mommy ask you to help him?
I see. It’s very kind for you to help out others but next time we should ask them if they need help first, ok? Now let’s give this jacket back please.
I stood up and explained to the other mother that he was only trying to help. In broken English, she began to tell me that Mister Almost 4 always playing with her son and taking off his jacket. Clearly this was meant to be a complaint than an appreciation, so I counter-attacked (verbally):
Where is your son? (She points to this kid that was a head taller than my son who was climbing all over the activity shelf.) Does he belong in this classroom? Why is he here? (She tells me they’re here to pick up her daughter.) I knew that. I knew who she was and which kid in the classroom belongs to her.
Okay so why is he not sitting outside of the classroom waiting while you pick up your daughter and sign out? He’s obviously old enough to listen. You obviously have a hard time collecting and controlling your kids in a closed-door classroom, but let me tell you something: you let [Bob] come into the classroom and stay long enough for him to wander off and start playing with the classroom toys, he’s going to play with other kids who are in the classroom. It’s natural.
She didn’t respond. I didn’t know if she understood but she left with her kids finally. As we drove home, I kept replaying my confrontation over and over in my head. Did I overreact? Did I embarrass Mister Almost 4 and myself? On the contrary, did I not react fast enough or harsh enough? Did I properly defend my child and his kindness to the degree that I should as his mother?
I couldn’t figure out what bothered me more: teaching my innocent, friendly and kind-hearted son to stop taking initiatives to help others… or the picture of another parent “disciplining” my child without my presence or knowledge that kept reappearing in my mind. Hmm… first world problems?
Then later that night after Grandma gave him a bath, I learned that the smokey smudge on his forehead was a bruise. I didn’t understand. Two days before, I had noticed the smokey smudge and asked him if he got hurt. He said it wasn’t, they were colouring today. I thought it was odd because black was never a colour that he used frequently, so I rubbed his smudge and asked if it hurt and he replied No as well. So now, two days later, Grandma finds the truth out from him.
When did he learn to lie? Why did he lie to me? I was baffled. I didn’t know what to think or to do. I definitely felt like a failing mother. I thought the lies would come when he’s a teenager, not at four-years old (and he’s not even four yet!)!
How do I turn this around into a teaching moment?