Some parents pretend their children are perfect. You don’t hear about the tantrums, the bed-wetting, or the rude language. I love my children as much as the next Mum, but like me they are far from perfect, and I think it’s healthy to share stories with other parents in the spirit of solidarity. Here’s one of mine.
Within a week of my three-year-old starting a new preschool, her teacher pulled me aside.
“I would like to talk to you about Jasmine.”
“Sure,” I said.
“Whenever we are doing an activity that doesn’t interest her, she asks to leave class to use the bathroom, but she doesn’t return. We find her wandering the school.”
2 days later the teacher cornered me again, “Do you have a moment to discuss Jasmine?”
“Yes?” I said wearily.
“She picked a fight in the school playground with two older boys. When a teacher asked her to stop she threw a tantrum for 25 minutes.”
They must have had a stopwatch out. I don’t blame them; I know what her tantrums are like.
The following week the teacher smiled, “Jasmine was very funny today.”
Thank God, I thought.
“I asked her if she’d like me to help her on the monkey bars and she said, ‘No!’ When I asked her why she said, ‘Because you are fat!’”
“Oh God,” I gasped. “I’m terribly sorry.”
“It’s okay. I am a bit fat.”
Later that week the teacher sidled up to me, “Can we speak about what Jasmine did today?”
“O oh,” I raised my eyebrows, “what’s happened now?”
“She wanted to go outside during class time to play in the thunderstorm and when we wouldn’t allow it she hit two teachers and said ‘I’ll knock your block off.’”
“Jasmine!” I turned to my daughter. “Where did you learn language like that?”
“Alice in Wonderland DVD,” she said. “The red queen says it.”
“That DVD will be confiscated as soon as we get home,” I assured the teacher.
It came as no surprise several weeks into term when Jasmine’s teacher suggested I attend the school’s Challenging Behaviour Workshop. I dutifully went along to pick up any tips I could get; it was clear I needed them.
Empowered with the information I learned at the workshop, and feeling relieved that Jasmine’s behaviour at school started to settle down (or perhaps her teacher just didn’t have the heart to pull me aside any more), I was thrown back into reality weeks later when I overhead Jasmine playing with her elder sister. “I’ll knock your block off,” she threatened.
“Jasmine,” I said. “I got rid of the Alice in Wonderland DVD. Why are you still talking like that?”
“It’s not from Alice in Wonderland,” my eldest daughter piped up. “Jimmy Cricket says it to Pinocchio. Jasmine told you to hide the wrong DVD.”
I looked at Jasmine and her lips curved slightly in a guilty smile.
What a cunning little *&!#. Let’s just hope her big personality serves her well in later years. I am sure it will.