Thursday, 1 September 2011

A visit to the principal's office

Image from here
Nugget has been out of sorts the past few days. A bit cranky. A bit grumpy. A bit punchy.

He's a boy with a long history of temper tantrums and poor sleep, and he is miserable to be around when he is angry. But he has been tracking well these past few months, so the return of Agro Nugget hasn't gone unnoticed. The younger kids have been riling him. They know he will bite if they bait him, so they do and all hell breaks loose.

Apart from telling him to pull his socks up, I have left him. Something has clearly set off this mood change and I knew he would tell me eventually what is bothering him.

I wasn't expecting what I heard.

When I picked him up from after-school care on Tuesday, he grumped at me straight away. I asked him if he was tired or had had a hard day. He grumped. He asked what was for dinner. I told him it was spaghetti bolognaise leftovers, thinking, 'He much be starving..., that's why he is so grumpy".

He cracked it. "I don't like leftovers. I won't eat it. I want something else", like a little spoilt brat. I told him that was the menu and he could choose to eat it or go hungry and ignored his outburst. We walked along in silence. And then I asked him what was wrong.

He said "I had to go to the principal's office", through clenched teeth (doing some fine ventriloquism).

"Did you?" I said. "What for?"

"My friend and I walked too slowly coming back from assembly".

"Oh." I said. (Thinking: I bet there is more to it than that, son)

"But the principal wasn't there. So we just went back to class".

"Oh". I said. "That was a lucky escape. Anything else?"

"Huh? No. That is it."

"Well what did you learn?"

"Not to walk slowly after assembly?" he said, rather tentatively.

"Yes, that." I said, "And it is important to tell your Mum and Dad what is happening. There's no need to worry. We love you always."

He grabbed my hand, clearly relieved that the load was off his mind, and said, "I don't really hate leftovers. Let's go home because I am starving."

It is funny what will keep them up at night. You never know what is going on in their minds, do you? I did far worse than that at primary school to find myself face to face with the principal. I get it. But it goes against his goody-goody nature to be in trouble with authority. He loves mischief but isn't usually the instigator. He just likes 'fun' friends. One day we will have to have 'that' talk, but for now, I think the threat of another trip to the principal will keep him on the straight and narrow. His behaviour has had a full 180 since he made his 'confession'.

How do your children react when they are keeping something from you?

15 comments:

Kymmie said...

That is amazing! A good lesson to see what the real problem is.

You wise mum, you. xx

Miss Pink said...

Bluey is the same.
Dead set. Usually just being told not to do something scares him straight, and he does fret when he thinks he's in trouble. But also he feels the pressure to fit in and easily gets caught up in what people around him are doing (which is sometimes the wrong thing).
It's so hard for them I guess, having to remember what is right and wrong and resist fitting in and having fun sometimes.

You are an amazing mum to be so perceptive and get Nugget to open up but on his terms.

Sarah Mac said...

In a pretty similar way to be honest even though they are much older than Nugget.

Defensive, angry and dropping little hints because they aren't comfortable keeping things to themselves but sometimes they struggle to share the things that bother them.

Giving them time and opportunity to share just as you did is exactly the right thing to do to avoid them closing down.

You did a great job there :)

Sarah Mac said...

In a pretty similar way to be honest even though they are much older than Nugget.

Defensive, angry and dropping little hints because they aren't comfortable keeping things to themselves but sometimes they struggle to share the things that bother them.

Giving them time and opportunity to share just as you did is exactly the right thing to do to avoid them closing down.

You did a great job there :)

Nurture the Little People said...

You know, we are going through the same thing with junior who has just turned 8. Some days we struggle to get anything out of him as to how his day was at school. Often the reply is "Can't remember" or "Nothing Much". He has been getting his name on the board in class quite regularly, and whilst he is not being naughty as such, he is being a little disruptive by talking when he shouldn't or dong something silly in class.
We had to ask a range of different questions before we discovered that he'd been getting his name on the board.
We have had huge talks about being honest with us, doing your best and things are starting to improve. But we still have those grumpy times. Maybe it's the testosterone? As long as Junior tells us what is going on in his head (ie tired, grumpy, etc) then we can all manage his behaviour and emotions.

Good luck with your little man

X

Life In A Pink Fibro said...

I usually just put the 'humph'ing down to age. There is something about seven year old boys that just feels like their innards are bigger than their skins can contain. It doesn't usually take Mr7 too much to come out with stuff. He's a chronic over-sharer.

InkPaperPen said...

I feel like this is a parenting stage I am yet to embark upon. Interesting to see how you and others (in the comments) handle these things. I like how Nugget when back on his "i don't like leftovers" statement.

x

Eloise said...

The Rock God and I endured several visits to the Principal's office ourselves this year with our just turned 8 year old. I couldn't figure out what was going on, his behaviour at school was so different and out of character compared to the year before. One night at the kitchen table after dinner when we tried talking to him about it he sank lower and lower into his chair and then slunk out of it altogether, came over and climbed up into my lap which he hasn't done for months being a big boy now. Then he told me he was being bullied by a couple of kids at school. Whenever the teacher came over to see what all the noise was about they would gang up against him and put the blame onto him. My heart just sank that he had been putting up with it for so long but I was so glad he had the courage to tell me in the end.

Rhonda said...

jakob is the same way. he also likes the "fun" friends but he is learning his lessons about that since he has gotten into trouble a few times when he was just along for the ride.

therhythmmethod said...

Boys are complicated little people, aren't they? I'm so glad he opened up to you. I suspect you'll be seeing a lot more of this pattern - the clamming up, grumpiness - when he has something that's bothering him.
My 5 year old has just started lying to me. Recently he came home from creche and told me that his 3 year old brother had kicked and punched a boy in the crotch. I believed it, and was terribly upset, but on speaking to the carers discovered it was a complete lie to get his little brother in trouble! It shows me how little I know what's going on in his head. And it scares the crap out of me. Makes me nervous for school next year. How will I ever know what's going on?

Diminishing Lucy said...

Oh my. You could be describing Olivia.

She bottles it all up.

I then have to wait for a "melt over" where she will eventually sob on my shoulder with the "problem".

My heart of melting and breaking for all the angst...

xx

Mel said...

I'm so glad that my two are too young for this behaviour yet. But I love how you handled it. He does sound like my Liam - not usually the instigator, but loving being involved in 'fun' things. I'm sure we'll have a few trips to the Principals office when he starts school in a few years.

vanessawith3 said...

It takes skill to get to the real issue. I learnt early to never ask "How was school?" If I sense a mood, I might start with "Tell me the worst thing about school today."
We forget how little things can overwhelm little people.

Naomi Hart said...

oh poor little tiger. hope he got an extra serve of ice cream for that sort of rough day! xx

HeeWho said...

I have one that bottles up but, on the other end of the spectrum, I have another who always tells everything. Everything negative, that is. I have to cajole him into sharing the good bits of his day. Unfortunately, he is so much like his mother who tends to see a half empty glass before realizing all there is left to enjoy.

Like looking in a mirror sometimes...

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