Monday, November 17, 2008

A note on behavior and the sometime suckiness of single parentdom

I realized that I mostly only blog about the fun stuff that happens leading a lot of people to believe that the rugrat and I lead a charmed life of rainbows and unicorns that poop marshmallows. This is not, in fact, reality.

Case in point the ongoing saga with Malia's school which I've finally become calm enough to comment on. She's got some bad behavior issues especially tantrums when she doesn't get what she wants, she never stops talking, and she's got the biggest smartmouth around. Yes, she gets the mouth from me, but I do try to keep it somewhat under control. She hasn't learned that lesson yet. I had hoped that starting Kindergarten would help with this and for the first month and a half it appeared that it had. She was behaving much better at daycare and even at home. Unfortunately it was not the case at school. She was apparently saving up all her naughty for Kindergarten. Why did they wait a month and a half to FIRST make mention of this you may ask. I would not be able to answer that question. I had not gotten any indication that there were any problems at all at Kindergarten. No notes from the teacher asking for backup on her behavior or anything like that. That's one thing I have gotten from day one at her daycare. I get an update every day on her behavior and what steps were taken if she got into big trouble.

So after the phone call I received from her K teacher I was understandably pissed off and sad at the same time. I was pissed that this was the first that I had heard of it and I was saddened that I did not notice anything and that apparently I was not doing my job to encourage good behavior... or something like that. Not that I'm an expert by any means, but I probably should have known my daughter well enough to know she's going to push the limits in a new situation. I'm paying for this now because I'm pretty sure that bar a few exceptions I'm now the mean mom who makes her sad all the time. We did not go to my parents house this week because I told her that unless she managed at least 2 days on green or yellow we wouldn't. She managed 3 days on red, 1 on orange, and 1 on yellow.

I should probably explain the color system. The same time I got the phone call they instituted a new behavior system at the school. All the kids start on a green card for the day. The first misbehavior they go to yellow which is just a warning. Orange is for the second infraction and it results in the loss of half of recess and some center time (computer center, toy center, book center). Red is for the third and results in lost recess and lost center time and a note home. However, because of her continued issues, she brings home a note every day with whatever she's done and she has to meet with a Behavior Counselor something or other as well. I will give her credit in that she's not violating the same things every day, but she's not got a very good record. I now almost dread picking her up from daycare at the end of the day because odds are very high that she'll have gone red (Edit: Today she got Green!). Of the 15 school days, not including today since they instituted the new rules, she's managed the following:

Green: 1
Yellow: 1
Orange: 2
Red: 11

Does anyone else see a problem with this? Her daycare is backing this up for all the kids by making them do some extra practice school work based on what color they are. Even if they get yellow they have to do some extra work. Additionally if they get red, they have to do the extra work during the entire afternoon inside play hour. Guess Malia should be pretty good at finding words. Who knows, due to the extra work she may be reading by Thanksgiving instead of Christmas Dad! When she gets red it also means that she gets no TV at home which I'm starting to believe is more of a punishment for me than for her because she won't leave me alone for five minutes even if it's cooking dinner for her.

This would be a whole lot easier to deal with if I had someone else to help shoulder the blame, but being a single parent I can't do that. Nor can I say "hey, significant other, this behavior is your fault, fix it" because I am the only one doing the parenting. Additionally she threw a lovely "My dad wouldn't get so mad about this and he'd let me do what I want" at me the other night. I really wanted to reply with a "Yeah, the dad who apparently decided that he no longer cares to be your dad? In fact, he doesn't even want to be a dad to his biological children. You mean that one?" Thankfully I managed to refrain because I'm pretty sure that would only make things worse and then I'd have more reasons to feel guilty about my sucky parenting skills.

Anyway, that is the joy that is going on right now. On a lighter note, she's discovered the joy of showers. Feeling a bit bad about no TV time I've let her take long showers. Mainly because it gets her out of my hair for a bit and I can get stuff done. She's really loud in the shower (singing the theme song to Duck Dodgers mostly) so I'm not worried about her injuring herself. I did however discover that my water heater allows for about 1 1/2 hours of warm enough for showering water. I learned this yesterday when I lost track of time and she hollered to let me know that her shower was cold. Plus I remembered that I had this which makes it perfect for her:


Britt said...

Kelly, I am not really qualified to give parenting advice, as my little one can act up quite a bit. I'll give my two bits anyway. It sounds like the school and day care both have a lot of negative reinforcement. Positive reinforcement usually works much better. Even my eigth graders will be better when a tootsie roll or jollie rancher are waved in front of them. They go bonkers for a front of the lunch line pass. I would suggest some sort of reward for every time Malia gets "X" number of green days. I'm really surprised that her teacher hasn't tried that.
And yes, it's disturbing that her teacher took 1 1/2 months to talk to you. After the first week of school I start calling parents.

Mandy B said...

i'm terrified for the school portion of our parenting journey. oh, and i am still looking for the unicorn that poops marshmallows. ksl and craigslist are all out. when i find one, i'll let you know. ;)

kelly said...

I forgot to mention the positive stuff. She earns treats at school based on the color she is at the end of the day. It's also how she earns TV time at home... by doing good stuff. She just doesn't respond to either reinforcement is the current problem.

Mandy B said...

again, i am terrified... but i will say that i LOVE the picture of the unicorn, i didn't see it the first time. haha. good laugh out loud there, that was nice, needed that today!