Sep 08 2008

Ethan Update – 1st Grade Edition

Published by at 10:58 pm under amy's head

Last week was the first week of actual public school elementary school for Ethan, and wow was I nervous. Probably way more nervous than he was. SO RELIEVED was I, when I picked him up and he nearly SHOUTED, “I HAD A GREAT DAY! I LOVE FIRST GRADE!!! I’M FINALLY A FIRST GRADER!!”

He seems to have done OK behavior-wise as well. The school has a color system of behavior – green if you’ve had a good day, white if you haven’t had a good day, purple if you’ve had an EXCELLENT day. In his classroom, they have laminated paper panthers on their desks, and if you’re misbehaving, you get the panther taken away, but if you shape up, then you get it back and can end the day on a green.

Last week he had greens all week, but on closer interrogations, we learned that he did have his panther taken away each day. We were happy with him turning it around though, since that can be a problem for him. Sometimes once he loses his cool, he can’t get that control back. It’s like he MUST act on every impulse he has.

He missed school on Friday, a decision James and I were pretty sketchy about, but we had a memorial service for James’ grandparents in upstate New York, and since we hardly EVER see James’ side of the family, we decided it was important enough for him to miss a day in his first week. (Last year, I think Ethan missed 3 days, TOTAL out of the entire school year, so it’s not like this isn’t going to be a habit.)

Well, today, Ethan had a pretty rough day. I guess I’m not surprised, it being the Monday after a 3 day weekend with most of it spent cooped up in the car. There was an assembly with the whole school, and he couldn’t control himself, after being reminded/told multiple times. We got a note from his teacher detailing what had happened, and even when James picked him and Jocelyn up at daycare, he had gotten into trouble there as well.

Ethan and Jocelyn had t-ball practice, and James let Ethan know EXACTLY what was expected of him, and what would happen if he did not meet those expectations (pay attention, no playing in the dirt, listen and obey, etc.) and I have to say, when I got to practice, Ethan was playing better than I’d ever seen him! He was watching when kids were up to bat, following the ball with his eyes, staying on top of things — he is usually kind of off in his own world, fidding around with the dirt/grass, clowning around, and not following what the action was. He had a few spots here and there, but overall, he did well.

I think there are a few factors going on in his behavior. I had detailed my thoughts on this before but I think there’s more to it. I’ve noticed that he doesn’t hang around the kids at the bus stop except for the neighbors he’s good friends with. There’s even another boy that is in his class that has tried to make friends with Ethan, but he hid behind me, or otherwise wouldn’t talk to him.

During the kindergarten year, he complained about the “work” they had to do in kindergarten, but was never totally resistant to it. But over the summer, when we had to do his summer reading assignment (read 5 books, draw a picture from each one, and write a sentence about what the picture is) he was COMPLETELY resistant. It was like pulling teeth to get this done. He didn’t mind the reading, he didn’t mind the drawing (although he complained plenty) it was the writing he didn’t want to do. You’d think we were asking him to gouge out his eyeballs with a shrimp fork, I swear. Once he finally would sit down and do it, he was fine.

In both of these cases, I think his self esteem is injured. About a year ago, he started playing with some of the older neighborhood boys. He is not shy, and he probably just jumped straight in w/out really knowing what they were playing or what the rules of their game were (it was something with water guns, I think) I was inside, just checking on him out the window now and then, when the he came storming in, saying they were mean and he wasn’t playing with them anymore. A minute later the doorbell rang and one of the boys was there to tattle on something Ethan had done. Ethan immediately totally lost his shit and started bawling — now remember, this was a kindergartener being tattled on by a 1st or 2nd grader.

I wish I could have redone that moment. I said soemthing to make the kid go away, and then tried to comfort/get the full story from Ethan. But he was inconsolable, only saying he would never play with those boys again. I let it go, thinking it would all be forgotten in a week or so, but I think that that incident is still with Ethan today. I think he is unsure of himself in terms of making new friends, and I think that something may have happened to make him think he is bad at writing, which makes him not want to try, not be excited about it.

What should I have done? Taken Ethan out and tried to get them to get past whatever it was Ethan had done to upset them. Showed Ethan how to approach someone else’s game with some respect, instead of jumping right in and changing the rules around. Helped the older kids to give him a bit of allowance, since he was younger than them. Helped them both talk to each other with friendliness. Not sure that would have worked, but I wish I had tried.

James and I are meeting with Ethan’s teacher tomorrow, and I would like to talk to one of the school’s counselor’s as well to see if they have any ideas. I’ve also ordered some kid books from Amazon on making friends.

Mostly, I am worried about Ethan’s self esteem and psyche. It’s hard not to harp on the bad behavior when you want so desperately for him to shape up but that is only going to damage his self esteem more. Obviously we’re not going to ignore it, either. We’re going to stick with our sticker chart and maybe start doing some more immediate rewards for good days (maybe a few pokemon cards) to emphasize the good behavior.

I said to James, “I’ve decided being a mommy is too hard. I’d like to have my heart back inside my body please. It’s getting pummeled out there.”

It is hard, but I was kidding of course. It’s worth it. It just sucks not quite knowing what to do to help your child be productive.


One response so far

One Response to “Ethan Update – 1st Grade Edition”

  1. 09 Sep 2008 at 7:39 pm

    I feel your pain. Big HUGS to you. You are a amazing Mommy! last blog post..Mommy blog