What kind of mother gets a call about her child's behavior the third week of kindergarten?
Well, there she is.
My sweet, beautiful snowflake began school all starry eyed and excited. Well, maybe I was more excited than my child. We read over the behavior expectations and color chart. Everything was going swimmingly. Fine, I’ll admit, there had been one episode where the principal had to run the kids out of the bathroom on the second day of school, but other than that we were off to a great start.
At 8:30 a.m. one day in the middle of the week the kindergarten teacher called and with a regretful tone recited to me my child’s progression through the color chart in the time span of about an hour.
“So what would like for us to do?” she asked.
Shock and awe exploded through my brain. A piece of me wanted to shove my chair away from the desk, jerk my purse from the floor and drive like a mad woman to scoop my precious one into my arms and carry this child away from the horrific morning the teacher described to me. The more rational part of me grounded my behind in that chair and lectured that soft-hearted mama on allowing my child to learn actions have consequences.
I cradled my head in my hands. “What is the usual course of action?”
She explained to me what I already knew and as the pressure built behind my eyes I consented for my child to be disciplined. Then she PUT MY CHILD ON THE PHONE.
Ya’ll nothing breaks my heart like my child’s voice full of tears because they know they did wrong and yet also know they will have to suffer the consequences of their actions.
But mamas this wasn’t the last phone call, email or note about behavior I received. In fact this same child earned a two day trip to in school suspension one year. I was utterly humiliated.
I did not want to be this mama, the one other parents judge because their child doesn’t always follow the rules. I’m a rule follower. And I’m a human who gave birth to humans and with humanity comes imperfection.
To the mama who gets the call on the third day or the third week of kindergarten or faces another school year with dread because life isn’t easy with a kid who marches to their own drum, I see you. I am you. You are not alone.
For a long time I thought I was alone. I hesitated when I told my friends where I was in the parenting journey but do you know what happened? Two other moms said, “Oh my child has been in ISS too.” Two moms who I thought had it together and had really great children.
You see, they do have really great children. And so do I. And so do you. Sometimes we have to allow those really great children to experience difficulty and the consequences for behaving like a heathen in the third week of kindergarten and the second semester of fourth grade and the last nine weeks of senior year.
Just as the mama of an athlete must accept that she cannot make her child’s performance on the field a reflection of herself, we must accept that our children’s actions are not always a reflection of our parenting. Yes, our parenting matters. A lot. We must take some responsibility for our children’s actions, but it’s not all on us. They must take responsibility for their actions too. At our house we’ve labeled this “natural consequences”.
Accepting those phone calls, allowing the discipline and instituting correction at home can make for some long days and weeks and months. It’s driven me to my knees in humility, worry and exhaustion.
The good news is we’ve been training for this moment of parenting since Vacation Bible School. Remember all that armor of God we’ve spent the last three decades putting on? Well, this battle for our kids is the one we’ve been prepping for all those years. Ephesians 6:13 was written for us.
After we’ve done all He’s called us to do for our children we’re to stand and watch Him take the victory.