It has been evident for some time that our third child has been and continues to be the most difficult to socialize. By socialize, I do not mean play cooperatively, behave in public places and know what to say when he meets a new person. I mean things like peeing in the correct room, wearing clothing that does not make strangers want to call Social Services, and not barking or hissing at little old ladies that compliment the Batman cape and mask he insists on wearing to the grocery store. This socializing is what we do every stinking minute we are around our kids. We socialize them by the examples we set (no slap fights after dinner, please) and what we do when they act like the baby monkeys they are (If you are going to wear your Batman costume to Wegman’s, you shouldn’t be
hostile surprised when people say, “Hey, Spiderman!”). It is when we remind them that if they wear their footie PJ’s in July they will be hot and uncomfortable, but let them do it anyway because, well… duh!
Behavior management is another animal altogether for Pumpkin Pie. I was certainly never
wildly gesticulated invited into Pickles’ classroom to discuss potty talk or punching. He did some impressive crying the first year and fell apart if his best friend was out sick, of course. Sweet Pea’s preschool teachers would tell me about their creative and successful ideas to channel his energy, “We let him sort the markers during rest time and he did great!” Not Pumpkin Pie. It’s always about the hands. And the mouth. “We keep reminding him to be kind to his friends, but he told all the kids they couldn’t play with him and Cookie because their game was too violent“. Oy vey. Last spring we had a chart. What a pain in the neck, I kept forgetting to bring the stoopid stickers. I don’t think it really helped, but it gave the teachers and me something to do until the end of school.
Fast forward to a new year. Today Pumpkin Pie dressed himself in (for a change of pace) underpants, a solid-colored seasonally appropriate polo shirt, and one pair of tan shorts (often he wears multiple pairs of shorts) that actually MATCHED. He topped off this outfit with his usual high-top Chuck Taylors (burgundy), but he wore white socks! No Spiderman socks, no cammo socks, not even black socks! I figure that statistically he eventually had to stumble on an outfit that matched. I thought that with this start to the day we would be in for smooth seas. Rahahahahahaha!!
I go to pick up at Submarine Preschool and the teacher is gesticulating wildly and motioning me into the classroom ahead of a couple of other parents waiting in the blob-line. I peer around me praying she was looking for some other rotten kid’s inadequate parental unit while miming, “Who? Certainly not me“. As it turned out, what Pumpkin Pie did in class was not that big of a deal. He was putting his hands on his friends, was extra silly and distracting during story time, and was demonstrating his extensive vocabulary of “potty words”. My first question in situations like this (and there have been oh so many) is always, “Did he put his hands on anyone while he was angry?” This is an important distinction because putting your hands on someone when you are angry is NEVER okay, while uppercutting your buddy while you are in the midst of an epic Ironman vs Batman battle is the act of an overzealous superhero and therefor manageable behavior in my book. Clearly Pumpkin Pie needs to be managed.
I guess we’ll start with the Not Putting Your Hands on Your Friends Sticker Chart. Hey! I even still have some stickers left from last year! The tough part is explaining to the teacher is that if he stands on a table and sings every potty word ever known to a 4 year-old he STILL gets his sticker as long as he keeps his hands to himself. For the love of Pete, I hope they get him off the table and park his bum in a chair or whatever they normally do when a kid goes potty-talk-postal. But, as long as his hands stay roughly where they are supposed to be, he still gets that sticker!! We will move on to his precocious potty talk after we master the hands. Maybe in college.