Monday, October 02, 2006


Eight days

Eight days. That’s how long it took for us to be called in for a meeting with Tristan’s teachers. Eight days of school.

When she first stopped Beloved late last week and said she would appreciate it if he could take some time to come to a meeting, I was curious but not overly concerned. (Of course, I also dropped a few things so I could clear my schedule and attend the meeting as well. My control tendencies run deep.)

We showed up on Friday afternoon with both Tristan and Simon in tow. Tristan took Simon on the cook's tour of the junior kindergarten classroom while Beloved and I folded ourselves into half-sized chairs around a knee-high table and tried to look nonchalant. When the teacher laid out photocopies of a worksheet in front of us, I began to suspect this is a meeting she has with all parents. The worksheet had a section for Tristan’s strengths, areas of concern, goals for teacher and goals for parent. A few minutes into the conversation, though, it became clear that There Is A Problem.

Frankly, I’m not incredibly surprised at the nature of The Problem. Tristan is a little, um, wilful. Sometimes. The first “incident” she had listed on a separate sheet (no copies of that one for us) was that on Tuesday, she had bestowed Tristan the honour of being the helper of the day, and he threw a pout on Wednesday when he realized it was someone else’s turn. Um, pouting. Yep, we’ve seen that one at home.

The next “incident” had to do with Tristan not staying in line. Tristan only likes to be at the front of the line. We’d heard about this problem already, and were talking to him about how important it is to stay in line, and the importance of listening to the teacher.

The third “incident” was about circle time. She told us, “He’s very smart, but he has a tendency to shout out the answers instead of raising his hand.” Well, okay, I used to be like that, too. But really – we’re talking DAY EIGHT here. Give him a couple of weeks. And he tends to wiggle and wriggle in his spot and ‘put his hands on the other kids’ in circle time. Well, okay, I’ve seen this at home too, and while I realize he needs to learn to stop, did I mention EIGHT DAYS?

The final incident is the only one that really worried me. He has a little friend, whom I will call Dude to head off any possible future slander action on the part of his parents. (Hey, I read Suburban Bliss.) Tristan talks about Dude constantly; you’d think there were no other kids in his class. Well, apparently earlier in the week, Dude’s mother sent a note to school saying that Tristan had been calling Dude names like “poopy head” and that Dude felt intimidated by Tristan.

My first reaction was gut-wrenching shame. My child intimidating someone else? After I spent my entire grade-school career being the target of choice through three elementary schools? And then I really thought about it. First of all, Tristan is a gentle soul. He’s big, no doubt – the size of a big six year old. And I’ve no doubt that he called Dude a poopy head, because he and Simon are going through that poop and fart language stage right now, and I’ve heard it at home. But to be honest, I haven’t been incredibly stringent about it, because I find it pretty harmless. When Tristan mimicked one of the older kids and called Simon a loser the other day, the whole world stopped turning while I explained that some things are not acceptable and made him apologize. But “poopy head”? Isn’t that a four-year-old rite of passage? It just so happens that I know Dude has not been in daycare, and so maybe that’s why his mother was particularly horrified that Tristan unleashed this verbal assault on her son, but I’m having a hard time being concerned about this.

In all, I’m glad the teacher called us in for a discussion. Because Tristan alternates one week in English and one week in French, this was his first week with this teacher, and I can see why four incidents in five days would be of concern to her. And she herself admitted that she had seen no further problems beyond the first day with the ‘special helper’ incident. And I know that Tristan is both wilful and boisterous, and that’s something we’re all going to have to work on. Maybe it’s time to look for another form of discipline beyond the time out. Anybody got any good books to recommend?

Through the course of the weekend, I’ve gone from shame to bristling annoyance to filing it under “lessons learned + blog fodder”. The teacher is going to make up a little worksheet for Tristan with three or four goals for him (sit nicely in circle and raise your hand to speak; hands to yourself in the cloakroom; etc.), and each day she’ll either mark a check or an X and we’ll review it at home together at the end of the day. It’s a pretty good idea, and I appreciate her efforts.

Eight days. Ugh. How long until graduation?

(Edited to add: ha ha. Today's Word of the Day on the sidebar is recalcitrant \rih-KAL-sih-truhnt\, adjective: Stubbornly resistant to and defiant of authority or restraint. See Tristan.)

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