Today was a tough day as far as being a mom goes. Another call home from school about John's behavior, but this time, from the gym teacher. Seriously. The gym teacher.
There have been a few calls home from school in the last several weeks; trouble sitting still, trouble listening, trouble not talking, trouble keeping his hands to himself, typical stuff for a five year old boy. Today, he found a pencil on the floor in the gym near the bleachers and started coloring on the gym floor - because he thought it would be funny.
It's not that hard to get a confession out of a five year old, as long as you're okay with a teary one.
I'm not sure what to think about the misbehavior. I don't doubt that the ants-in-his-pants and motor-mouth are all legitimate complaints from the teacher. I also don't excuse any of the behavior, because he knows what's expected and what's appropriate behavior for school.
But I also know that for a kindergartner, an eight hour school day feels like an eternity. In his own words, "it's almost 24 hours, Mommy!!" Add consistently lousy spring weather that has kept them inside three days out of five to the rapid approach of year-end and summer vacation, and it's a recipe for a behavior disaster.
Of course, that still doesn't excuse any of his behavior. I like to think that we're reasonably good parents, who set limits, boundaries, and expectations of our children. When they cross those limits and boundaries, and when they fail to live up to those expectations, I also think that we discipline them appropriately. Discipline, in its truest etymology, expresses love, not punishment. I discipline my children because I want them to grow up understanding and respecting rules and boundaries, not because I want them to fear me.
Like so much as a parent, though, I second guess whether I'm doing it right. We've had enough calls home this year that I sound like a broken record, at least to me. I keep looking for the manual that tells me how to fix it, but our copy of the parenting manual has gone missing.
Oh, that's right. It doesn't exist. We have to figure this out on our own.
Today I'm especially thankful for a conversation with a dear friend this past weekend about that mythical parenting manual. I may not know if I'm doing it right, and there may be many more phone calls from teachers in my future. But if there was a manual, I think it could be worse - because then there would be no doubt exactly when I was doing it wrong.
So I'm okay if that manual just stays missing. I love my kids, and I do my best every day to be the best mom I can be. As long as they know both of those things, I'm pretty sure they'll turn out okay.