Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Last Day of School - could have been better.
This morning, the day that Miss E finishes kindergarten, she and I snuggled on the couch before Mr. T woke up talking about how fast the year went by. It FLEW by. It seems like yesterday I was the overly nervous parent meeting her at the school bus. And now it's over with. I really hope 1st grade doesn't go this fast. Miss E told me she was ready to stay in kindergarten awhile longer too but she's excited about all the new things she is going to learn in first grade.
And then things took a dive. The last day of school party should have been awesome and instead it sucked. Because Peter was working, Mr. T and I went to celebrate with her. All was fine until about half way through the party when somehow, for some reason, a flip was switched and she went from being kindergarten Miss E to being snotty and mean Miss E. I'm talking ordering me around, arms crossed, scowl on face, loudly complaining/yelling about being cold, etc. I tried to work around it for a bit, ignoring, offering a break from the party (it was pretty chaotic), etc... but she persisted. Persisted to the point of refusing a bowl of ice cream JUST BECAUSE. Blah blah blah escalation escalation, we end up outside with Mr. T eating ice cream at the "boys" table and feeling pretty good about hanging with the kindergarten boys. However, she is devolving and my patience is waning to the point where it is clearly time to GO. I tell Mr. T we have to go when he finishes his ice cream and his face crumples. He wanted to stay and eat his ice cream with the boys and play on the playground. He buries his face in my arm so no one will see him cry and I hear Miss E tease him in a really loud voice. Now, I think I'm a pretty patient person but that was the last straw. I cannot tolerate one of my kiddos feelings being hurt like that, and I can't stand her acting that way. We left quickly and after a brief period of me yelling in the car on the way home that her behavior was TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE she was banished to her room where she cried for an hour.
And I was pissed. She was mean to me, mean to her brother and ended Kindergarten on a really sour note. I really tried at the party to head things off. I mean, I get overwhelmed easily too, I GET IT. I have talked with Miss E many times about this and coping skills to deal with it. But at a certain point, as I am dancing around trying to head off her tantrum I started to wonder why. She wasn't exactly doing anything to stop it, I was the only one trying to improve the situation. And that is fine for toddlers and preschoolers but she is 6 almost 7. She understands appropriate behavior at a school party. It's not entirely up to me to make everything OK anymore. Is it?
Events like this make me feel like the worst parent around. I'm sure there are other moms who wouldn't have yelled or banished their daughter alone to cry in her room. But dammit, I'm mad. And I'm sick of dealing with this shit. At some point, we have to be able to get through a non-ordinary day at school reliably. She has to be able to self correct and make appropriate choices. She can't be mean to Mr. T and I just because she is feeling uncomfortable. To me, all of this means that we, as parents, have failed a bit. We haven't taught her successfully how to navigate these events or these emotions. We haven't dealt with the fall out in a compassionate manner. I mean, I don't want her to distance herself from me when she is feeling out of control but that's what happens when I react with anger. Distance. And it all feels like a failure to me.
I knew she felt bad about it afterward. Knew she felt awful. She didn't want to end kindergarten that way either and she didn't want to hurt Mr. T's feelings like that. We spent A LOT of time talking about choices and knowing what the right choices are and ways you can get a break when things start to feel overwhelming. And then we talked about kindness and family and taking care of one another and sticking up for one another and blah blah blah blah. It took forever, but I think, this time, some of it sunk in. We were able to end the day going to Mr. T's gymnastics show and be positive and happy together. But it took a lot of work and hurt feelings all around, and I'm still not sure we're addressing the issues correctly.
What makes it so hard, is that this is kind of out of character for her. Miss E is an incredible child. She is very bright and focused and attentive. She and I could spend the entire day at home doing our own thing and she would never once ask me to turn on the TV. She's just busy and creative and fun. She's also kind and, ever since she was tiny, has had an incredible capacity for empathy. Sometimes though, these feelings take over and it's hard for either one of us to steer things back onto an appropriate course.
We also talked about how just because we ended kindergarten this way, does not mean the year was bad. She learned a lot this year. This was the year she learned to read until her eyes won't let her anymore. And write. And how plants grow and about bugs and the weather and time. She learned so much and grew so much and we aren't going to let one bad hour on the last day of school in any way ruin our memories of how great kindergarten was. But man, that hour sucked.