Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Impulsive Ramblings

Dear Owen's Preschool Teacher,

I will never send you this letter, because it indicates that I have spent far too much time dissecting your comments, churning up your pile of sand, and transforming it into a mental Mount Rushmore.

No, it is much more emotionally stable to write this letter just to process my thoughts and gain some perspective. And then publish it. On the Internet.

You mentioned after class that Owen had a really hard time settling down today. He didn't use his inside voice. He had difficulty with transitions. You said, "He was just so impulsive."

I wanted to ask you more details, but the impulsive one was halfway out the door, while the baby was attempting to dive into the fish tank.

Here's the deal: I totally get it. Owen is excitable. He screams unnecessarily. He's a fan of hopping around. He's been known to have difficulty with transitions.

But please, please, don't translate his behavior into "impulsive."

Understand that when we came home from preschool, he and I had a long, serious talk. You will get an apology on Thursday. There will be consequences if this behavior continues.

However---don't say that he "couldn't control himself." or that he was "unable to calm down."

He's four. He'll learn. Buck the trend of labeling any form of exuberance as impulsive.

If I didn't know better, I may have worried that something is "wrong" with my son. There is nothing "wrong" with Owen. There's nothing "wrong" with people who have issues with impulse control. There are just things to work on. We all have things to work on. 

Let's be careful with our labels.

Let's not fail another generation of boys.

It would be helpful for me to hear your thoughts about what I can do to support you and my little man. That just seems more constructive than telling me what my child seems "unable" to do.


Owen's Mom

(Link Up With Think Tank Momma if you have a letter of your own to write this week!) 
Think Tank Momma


noisycolorfullively said...

Thank you for reminding us to maintain some perspective here, Nancy.

Simeon is a walking bilboard of lables. I'm constantly remembering what my mother always told me about mine: There are reasons why you may have to work harder, focus more, expereince pain, but they are only reasons. Not excuses!

Our boys are capable and able and with Mama's there to teach and guide, in spite of what the world asks of them, they wil grow up to be good men.

At least, that's my prayer.

Cat said...

I think this is one of the hardest things as a modern parent- kids get labeled for acting. like. kids. It's so upsetting to me... I love that my boy runs and screams and roars, and if it comes with some hitting and biting and not sharing- well, he's 19 months old. This too, shall pass with love, parenting, and age. LOVE the letter.

LB said...

Boys are definitely more "active" than girls. Even in high school, I have a hard time keeping the boys engaged while sitting quietly in their seats. The traditional classroom setting is really not the best way some boys learn.

She probably didn't mean anything by it. We all have those days when our students wear on our nerves. Cut her some slack!

Kori said...

You are FAR nicer than I would be; really. Because what four year old boy is capable of controlling himself all the time, of using his inside voice all the time, of being well-behaved all of the time? None that I know of, and I have myself HAD three of them, or rather two and one almost there. This woman needs to find another job.

In my opinion. :)

clearness said...

Love the letter............when my son is in school, I'm sure I'll be writing a few of my own.

Sonya said...

It's so what we all go through as parents..espically with the boys..Been there and done that with my son aswell. I STILL get it and he's almost 10..he's not a proper dutch kid..oh reallly..could it be because he's an american with manners? I fight the teacher left and right about it. I'm glad to know there are other moms out there who do the same:)

adrienzgirl said...

Dear Owen's Teacher,

Thank you so much for the constructive criticism. You certainly helped correct behavior with all those label words!

Questioning what you are doing teaching preschoolers!

Melani said...

I wish I would have composed a letter to my son's teacher when she "thought he had ADD" because he was "hyper, couldn't focus and pay attention" and other things she said when he was 6...and I had him tested and he WAS NOT ADD. Nothing was "wrong" with him.

mama-face said...

I just wrote a huge comment full of motherly advice, but I think you know what to do.

Here's a hug. I'm thinking of you.

Marena said...

Amen! Great thoughts Nancy. I wish I had had more parents like you when I was a teacher!

Coby said...

Wonderfully put! Honestly, that's all I can say - you're so right on! (As a mom with boys who could possibly be labeled "impulsive.")

We MUST be careful with our labels.

only a movie said...

Excellent response. My child never was one to settle in pre-school either. Ack.

Cheeseboy said...

Preschool has an "inside voice"? My 3 year old is so screwed next year.

My first graders have a hard time with an "inside voice" most of the time.

That being said, maybe she had a long day and the kids had been grinding on her. I know I have been there. If that was the case, then she simply needs a lesson in tact.

Organic Motherhood with Cool Whip said...

You know my cousin's son actually got kicked out of his super exclusive preschool when he was TWO because they said he was having trouble paying attention and focusing on the task at hand. What two year old focuses on "tasks at hand" is what I want to know. And I think our whole society has some kind of queer pole up it's butt that makes us think that preschoolers need to behave like little adults. Frankly, I think it's disturbing.

Anyway, this is all to say that I am glad that Owen has a mind of his own and I think little boys that can be themselves and know how to express all their emotions are WONDERFUL. We should all work on being more like him and preschool children in general who love life and know how to show it.

Tracie said...

This kind of thing really bugs me and I see it all the time. It's easier to slap a label on a kid than to use behavior modification and problem solving skills to improve the situation.

Joanna Jenkins said...

I realize teachers have their hands full and I realize their jobs are not easy-- But....

What's up with all the tattletale crap. A teacher of 4 year olds is there to teach-- not tattle about everything that happens to every kid every day. If a child has a genuine long-term problem then have a discussion, but tattling that your kid was wound up TODAY would annoy me to no end.


Frau said...

Dear Owen's Teacher,
He is effing four years old!

Mother tired of labels

Missy said...

As a former elem teacher I REFUSED to read student profiles until they had been in my class six months. Owen needs another teacher. One who will not label a child, but rather simply share problems that aren't common for a specific age. Geez, I would've wanted her to meet my girl when she was four; Owen would've looked like an angel!

Viv said...

Owen's teacher needed to write a GWA letter instead. She needed to vent, but, probably not to you. If she had waited a day, I'll bet her note would have been word very differently.

I'll tell you what, I'm a little jealous of Owen, I wish I had that same excitement for life sometimes. :)

Simple Moves said...

What if we had teachers who pulled certain moms aside after class and asked, "Ma'am, you son just sat there like a rock today - is something wrong with him? He seems to have no zest for life."

I would like that world and that teacher a lot.