People tell me that I’m quite a calm person and seem to take most things in my stride. It is partly good acting but these days it is mostly true.
Since becoming an adopter I have had to work hard at my calm skills and have had to learn to use them in the face of defiance and provocation. I’ve had quite a lot of practise. My usual tolerance for provocation is fairly high and most days I’m pretty cheerful about parenting, accepting the blips as par for the course. However, in the words of Rag’n’Bone Man (and often sung by Little Bear) I’m only human after all and sometimes the parenting thing gets a bit hard.
I think it started last week with the arrival of school Reports which seem to stir up lots of feelings in me every time. I tried to blog it out on Thursday but it didn’t have quite the same therapeutic effect as usual. That afternoon there was a drop-in parents evening. Unfortunately Grizzly couldn’t be back from work in time and none of the grandparents were about. Rather than missing it I decided to just pop in with both Bears in tow. I had thought they would be able to run around in the outside part of Reception class while I had a quick word with the teacher. However, it turned out to be quite a formal, everyone (including several other parents and children) inside the classroom affair.
I tried to speak with the teachers about Little Bear’s need to improve his behaviour (as stated in his report). They talked about how he still hits the other children sometimes but that he kicks items over in the classroom less frequently. I hadn’t been aware there was any kicking of items happening and it is certainly not something I would tolerate at home.
The teacher began talking about how many of the boys are fixated with technology and screens and how their social skills are underdeveloped as a result. I tried to explain that we limit screen time and although Little Bear enjoys the IPad this is not why his behaviour needs to improve.
The teachers talked about Little Bear acting the class clown, a trait they remember from Big Bear and suggested this might be due to our family ways…
They talked about how they try to intervene with Little Bear before he gets beyond the point of no return and how important it is that we do that at home too (!).
For the first time I felt blamed for Little Bear’s behaviour. Were they suggesting that things we are doing at home are making him behave this way?
It is hard to talk about the progress he has made and how Little Bear used to be swinging-from-the-lampshades-wild and how we work extremely hard every single day to improve his behaviour when, in perfect synchrony, Little Bear is taking a teddy from the younger sibling of his friend and is running around the classroom with it held aloft, taunting it’s owner that he can’t reach it. It is hard to conduct a sensible conversation or appear a credible parent when your child is not listening to you and is cooking up a merry rumpus.
We made a hasty retreat.
It was hard to pay attention to Big Bear’s books in his classroom as Little Bear found a model sword and persisted in touching it and flailing it about despite me continually telling him not to. It was hard not to feel like a bad parent when Big Bear’s teacher had to tell him to leave the sword alone and he didn’t listen to her either. I wanted to give Big Bear his fair share of my attention so mainly decided on ignoring Little Bear for 5 minutes which was hard given he was launching himself at the beanbags and trying to run out of the door. I felt conflicted.
We had a talk (another one) about behaviour and expectations and good listening on the way home.
By bedtime I was shattered. It was hard when Little Bear decided it was not going to be a sensible bedtime and I needed to check on him every few minutes until 9pm to ensure he wasn’t doing anything ridiculously dangerous.
In the morning Little Bear came to see me in bed. We had cuddles and chatted. When I sat up he climbed into my lap and pretended to be a puppy. He pretended to rub his head on my face but went in too hard, head-butted me and split my lip. To his credit he did feel bad about it and was sorry, especially when he saw blood. Nevertheless, it hurt and was not the ideal start to my day.
That afternoon when I picked Little Bear up from school he announced that he had punched two of his friends because they wouldn’t give him the Lego card he wanted. I duly e-mailed school to find out the details.
On Saturday it was our village fete. It is held on the school field and is a very busy event. Big Bear went off on his own. I knew I could trust him to stay on the field or to find a grown-up (of which there were many he knew, including Grizzly who was volunteering at the event) if he needed one. I knew I could not afford Little Bear the same freedom. It was hard to keep track of him. I had been very clear about the need to stay with me and the possible consequences of not doing so (getting lost etc.) but Little Bear found it hard. I needed eyes in the back of my head. He is small and whippet-quick and easily distracted by things that catch his eye. He wandered off or I turned my head for a split second and he was gone on several occasions.
It is hard spending three hours at a busy fayre literally tracking a child. It is hard being the parent who doesn’t find much joy in what is apparently a fun event. It is hard when you turn away for a second e.g. to buy a raffle ticket and your child has completely disappeared when you look back and you are filled with panic. It is hard then making them hold your hand the entire time when their peers are off enjoying some freedom. It is hard being the parent who calls time on the event and takes their child home when everyone else is still there having fun.
It is hard when this comes on the back of the rest of your week and all of the others mini-incidents that have occurred, including the Judo teacher needing to speak with you because the little dude hit someone in her session.
I’m just going to say it: sometimes parenting Little Bear is hard. It is hard when you feel you are trying your very best every day and giving parenting everything you’ve got yet it doesn’t seem enough. It is hard to always see things from your child’s point of view when actually their behaviour is sometimes embarrassing and you do wish they would actually just do what they are told. It is hard to always have a thick enough skin not to think that their behaviour is a direct reflection of you or that others think it is.
My feelings about Little Bear’s behaviour are no reflection of my feelings for him as, despite all the antics, I adore the bones of him and nothing is better than a big snuggle with him (minus a head butt). The rational part of me knows that there is reason behind Little Bear’s behaviour in pretty much all of the situations I have described. I know that he was probably aware that the teacher and I were talking about him and he was already tired from a whole day at school and taking him to his own parents evening was an error. I know that allowing him to take his Lego cards to school at all was risky as he is not used to swapping and would not have understood what was happening if he gave one of his cards to a boy who then refused to give one back. I can see why he resorted to solving that situation with his fists. I know that taking him to a busy event like the fete on a Saturday after a week at school and a swimming lesson was probably going to be one challenge too far.
I know all that but I’m only human after all and sometimes it gets a bit hard to stay calm and take it all in my stride.