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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
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Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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Pusher man.

Henry got in trouble yesterday for pushing. I've never known him to be a pusher, but hell, no one's perfect. The teacher took me aside after school. It's not a teacher I know well (they have a few teachers and they sort of rotate, or something, I'll never make sense of the system at work in this place) but I recognized that pinched expression, and I thought, crap.

"Henry was being… not very nice," she said. Which I thought was a less than productive way to express her displeasure, don't you? "He was pushing."

"Oh?" I said, and gave her a little shove. Ha ha!

"Oh?" I said, and kept my hands to myself.

"Then," she added, "when he asked him to apologize, he refused, and when we told him that [INSERT KID'S NAME HERE]'s feelings were hurt, he said, 'That's fine.'" She shook her head. "He said, 'I don't even care about him.'"

She seemed shocked by this. Had she never met a five-year-old before? Do all the other children immediately and sincerely express regret for hurting another's feelings? Do none of them attempt to save face by claiming not to care? Do I have the only full-of-crap preschooler in the universe?

I assured her that I would talk with him, but I didn't have to, because Henry gave me an EARFUL. WELL. That other kid was not following the rules, he was supposed to clean up the blocks when block time was over and he did not clean up the blocks when block time was over and those are the rules, and he wouldn't listen, and Henry was going to get in trouble for not cleaning up the blocks but it wasn't fair because everyone has to follow the rules.

In other words, he had a bad day. I tried to talk to him about pushing but lord, he knows he's not supposed to and he didn't want to talk about it and he kicked at trees the whole way home and called everyone in the universe stupid (sorry, even you). Should I have lectured him until he wept? Being a kid sucks sometimes. I opted to give him a break. I expect he'll stop pushing by the time he's in college.

P.S.: a new Wonderland post is up.

Reader Comments (78)

Ugh. I used to hear similar things about my kid once in a while, and I had the same thought: Have they never met a five-year-old? I found that a basic sermon ("It is the teacher's job -- not yours -- to make sure people follow the rules. You do not push.") does fine. Of course, kids do need to hear this about a million times, so be prepared to say it periodically. ;^) Bad days do happen, and it won't always be your kid who's doing the pushing.
January 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBeth
I appreciate his honesty. There are still days I want to push someone (or worse) for not following the rules and when called upon to answer for my actions I wish I could say I don't care about that person. I imagine if we could all be so open and honest there would be no pent up aggression and no need for psychatrists. But alas we live in a "civilized" society. I really would like to have given Henry a high 5 but I understand we have to teach our kids the appropriate rules for behaviour. Poor Henry.
January 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSomeone Being Me
My 4 year old daughter (our second) was sent to the office at preschool yesterday for screaming at her teacher. Frankly I don't like her teacher either but we had to talk about not screaming at her. I'm kinda shocked by teachers who are shocked at kid's not able to fully express frustration. She didn't see it as a learning opportunity like I did so I screamed at her...haha just kidding!
January 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterVanessa
IF you ask me, it sounds like that other kid needed a little push!JulesHouse of Jules

January 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjules
(not that I'm condoning pushing or anything, and what have you. You know what I meant!)JulesHouse of Jules

January 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjules
I think that you did the right thing by dropping the subject instead of trying to give him a lecture. As a nanny, I generally try to keep it brief when a kid is still moody and revisit the topic later when they're in a more cooperative mood, but still keep it light and brief. I'm probably overdoing it, but I like to help them make a plan for the next time something like that happens. You know, like we're NINJAS and we have to plan out our next ninja battle, which does not include pushing because ninjas are smarter than that.

I also always always always close it up with a big hug and a noisy, annoying kiss and a reminder that I love them more than chocolates. I keep hearing that ninjas DO NOT GIVE KISSES, but I disagree.
January 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermarymuses
I get notes home all the time for my 2.5 year old. Things like, "he had a very bad day because he would not clean up when asked to" or their favorite, "he does not listen to his teachers. This is a real problem we will need to work on."

Like you said, isn't that normal for a kid his age? When I figure out what's going on in these teacher's heads, I'll let you know.
January 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMsSwarr
marymuses, I think I might love you a little bit.
January 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterScholarLi
Henry's honesty about how he feels is refreshing! Do you really care about people who don't follow the rules? When someone doesn't use a turn signal or runs a stop sign or jumps in with a left turn before the people going straight have gone at the light, they aren't following the rules of the road. Do you feel caring in your heart for that person, or do you wish for a paintball blaster so you can mark their car as piloted by a driver with no regard for others? Henry maybe has to learn to express his feelings in a different way but it seems to me that his lack of care for the other kid in that situation is not the problem.
January 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterkaren
I'm with Henry, I hate rule breakers, too.
January 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterpunchlinewalking
There is no sense even trying to talk to a kid when he's in a snit. You took the high road for postponing the talk to a calmer time.
January 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterwitchypoo
Welcome to the 5 club. Mine has a dual problem...he hates to say "sorry" and when people *look* at him, his shyness entirely shuts down his system. So he ends up looking like a rotten little brat. And at the same time, he's writhing inside because it's just "so hard" to say.

Yesterday the other kid wouldn't share, so my kid said "I won't be your friend" (dang, I hate that, the other two never said that, must be why we had a third), though he later clarified that "I only meant for a minute or two!" and the other kid got upset. So, the mom had them both say sorry, one did, mine didn't, until he finally choked out two mumbled syllables in the other kid's ear. Other kid found that offensive (a normal reaction)...

But the telling about this whole thing afterwards was filled with tears and angst and how hard it is to say sorry. He suggested at one point that "forget it" would be a more appropriate response. Though when I tried it out on him, he realized it didn't quite hit the same notes as "I'm sorry."

Now we're going to spend the weekend bugging him and pushing him and then saying "sorry" really quickly, you know, as good role models. Not really. I don't think.
January 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJen
Please, anyone who gets their panties in a bunch over a little pushing...seriously. Not being nice? I have three boys - pushing and hitting have nothing to do with not being nice. They love and would defend each other to the death. They just happen to be small and cannot, I repeat, cannot always control their emotions. They can't even wipe their own rear-ends, for Pete's sake.

That being said, I always talk to them after an episode. I'm no creative ninja, but we work it out.
January 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNicki
Some days I wish I could push someone when they aren't following the rules (use a turn signal once in awhile for Christ's sake!) but since I can't I turn to chocolate. It sounds easier Henry's way. His reaction sounds much more logical than crying or making himself fat.
January 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle
My child was recently accused of using his soft cotton mittens in a "dangerous manner". What could one be endangering with soft cotton mittens? He walked home with his tale between his legs, muttering about how his teachers were mean and he didn't like school anyway.
January 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterizzy's mama
Oh, how I would hate it if other adults pushed me when they were upset, but, oh, how I wish I could push rule-breakers around like that every once in a while, too. And, especially, I'd like to not have to talk about it afterwards -- at least until I've had a chance to regroup or, you know, maybe ever. I love Henry, but even more, I love his mother.
January 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commentershelley
So, according to Henry's teacher, I should worry when HRH (also 5) tells RC that he "doesn't love him anymore" or "he's not my favorite brother"? I remember thinking and saying worse than this to my siblings. I remind him it's inappropriate blah, blah, blah but really, he's five.
January 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterManic Mommy
I did daycare for five years. With one year olds. I had a steady rotation of "assistants" come through my room. I wish I had a dollar for every time they would act incredulous that a child threw food or bit or wouldn't help clean up -- how could I *not* report this to the parents?! -- and I would wonder to myself: Have you *ever* been within a hundred yards of a one-year-old before? Seriously.

I feel Henry's pain. There's someone I work with that gives me similar grown-up versions of the same bad day. I wish I could give *him* a good shove.
January 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDawn
My 4 y/o got in trouble at school a few weeks ago for kicking a little girl while on the playground. The teacher told him, "We don't treat our friends like that."I swear to Elmo, Luke replied, "She's not my friend." *sigh*

I'm hoping to find a nice military school nearby.
January 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterbuffi
Ha! How timely -- I just finished a post on how we all can be grateful that our children merely bicker and push, instead of actually killing each other, as baby birds do. Perhaps you should reward Henry for not pushing the rule breaker off a cliff?
January 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermomecology
Next verse, same as the first. My 6 year old's teacher pulled me aside and told me she had thrown a rock at a kid. I was all horrified and talked to my daughter. What ACTUALLY happened? They were cleaning up rocks in the school garden, she threw a rock towards the pile and accidentally hit someone. What a delinquent.
January 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterall things bd
I'd say yeah, cut him some slack on this. If this were behavior you've seen before and now it was happening at school, then that would be different. When I'm dealing with these things I tell my kid why the teacher is upset, but I also go back to the teacher to clarify why my child acted the way they did. Right or wrong, they deserves to have their side of the story understood. Teachers don't always know what's going on because kids are not allowed or are afraid to speak up for themselves.
January 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJenna
I have been pulled aside because my son smacked a couple of the special ed boy's butts in the bathroom. He also touched another kid's penis. I approach those conversations like a developmental psychologist, explaining his developmental maturity. Very earnestly. Then quickly skulk away praying I don't have a serial killer on my hands. Come on, who doesn't want to shove someone every now and again? He is just in touch with his instincts.
January 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDanielle
I'm a preschool teacher, and I'm still laughing! You have a great sense of humor. All kids push sometimes (they're KIDS)--the teacher's job is to redirect and help them express their feelings. And apologizing is terribly difficult for children in front of their peers. What's most important to them is knowing someone understands their actions and frustrations.
January 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterReverie
Sounds like he was worried he would get in trouble for the other kid not picking up. Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised. My son's class was often punished (either through a verbal reprimand or losing something like show and tell time or a trip to the park -- seriously! We're talking 4 year olds here!!!!) just for a few kids not cleaning up something.

Um, he's not there anymore. I couldn't handle that.

January 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commentersilvermine

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