“No matter how calmly you try to referee, parenting will eventually produce bizarre behavior, and I'm not talking about the kids. Their behavior is always normal.” ― Bill Cosby
"Their behavior is always normal." I wondered about that yesterday as I felt like I was losing control over a situation involving one of my children...who just so happens to be one of my students. I mentioned previously that my youngest child, Cecelia, is in my Kindergarten class this year. I worried about how that would work out. When I taught Isabelle last year we had our run-ins. She, however, is a people pleaser and although she tested the boundaries for awhile we ended the school year on good terms and with great memories.
Cecelia is not a people pleaser. In fact, being the baby of the family, she pretty much thinks the world revolves around her. It doesn't help that she has a sense of humor that mirrors my own and I can't help but crack a smile many times when I am trying to discipline her.
When we were growing up, my younger sister, who is ten years younger than I, could get away with murder by producing insta-tears and crying out, "I'M JUST A LITTLE GIRL!" She was situated in the family after three boys with a boy right after her. Yes, she had our dad wrapped pretty securely around her finger. Cecelia, however, has my dad wrapped even tighter around her tiny little finger. It was her that brought my father out of diaper duty retirement. He would volunteer to change her. She would lunge into his arms as a little baby and sit with him for hours. Yes, she was his little girl, and he her knight in shining armor.
They have spent a lot of time together as he watched her while I worked and the others were in school. She actually thinks she is his boss. It's pretty cute....and disgusting. Even before the previous school year ended my dad began to get mild depression as he realized she would soon be in school, she was growing up.
Then came the move. Her and my dad under one roof. Him trying unsuccessfully to stifle laughs as her haughty little ways would get her into trouble with her siblings (who, by the way, most of the time also treat her like she is a little princess). She would go to him and vent and he would feed her ego with sympathy. This was all very repugnant and nauseating really.
But then there were those moments when I'd catch them deep in conversation, both taking each other very seriously. Sometimes I'd find them sound asleep on the couch hand in hand, and oftentimes when Cecelia would get excited about something or other she'd say, "I can't wait to tell Papa!" The love these two have for one another is palpable.
And so it is, without animosity, that I blame my dad for days like yesterday.
It started out well, so well, in fact, that I marvelled several times at how cooperative this year's students behaved. They were helping one another, quickly falling into routine, using complete sentences and being very respectful.
Just before we needed to leave for Mass, though, Cecelia somehow managed to jab the inside of her mouth with her pencil. She opened up and cried and cried for all the other classes to hear. From that point on she was weepy, tired and melancholic, she was simply "too tired" to behave well in church, even with the warning that she would have to take a nap during recess if she didn't stop whining.
And so, there she was. While all the other kids were joyfully playing outside during a lucky moment when the sun broke through the unpredictable dark clouds that come with our indecisive fall weather (which earlier in the day produced a very uncommon-for-this-area tornado) Cecelia lie bundled up on our classroom's bean bag chair with a blanket tucked up to her ears, sound asleep.
After recess, she woke up to the sound of the other children returning from the fresh air. She seemed like she was in a good mood and so I looked forward to the rest of the afternoon. It wasn't long, however, that her own personal gray cloud began to hover once again above her head. When our priest entered the classroom to visit the children, the other students stood up right on cue and greeted him with, "Good afternoon, Father!" Cecelia sat there without batting an eye and continued with what she was doing. To make a long, irritating story short, she had to receive a consequence for her bad behavior when we got home.
In my conversation with her before her "early" bedtime I asked her why she acted the way she did today. The truth came out. She was upset because during our Math meeting (one of the first things of the day) she was called on to identify the triangle instead of the coveted parallelogram. Yep! That was all it took. When I heard this I wanted to both pull my hair out and die laughing all at the same time. Tears actually built up in my eyes as I tried my hardest to show absolutely no sign of amusement. Who would have known a four sided geometrical figure could be the cause of such distress!
Now, I have to decide by tomorrow if I should avoid possible future meltdowns by calling on her to tell the class that the blue shape is a parallelogram, or let her know she doesn't always get what she wants and force her to name one of the less phonetically enjoyable shapes. Oh, the dilemmas of teaching your own children!