Due to the escalation in (his) aggression, we must meet before Alex can come back to school.
The e-mail shot into my heart like a dagger coming out of my computer screen.
Did my 4-year-old boy really just get kicked out of preschool through a one-sentence email? It reminded me of that “Sex and the City” episode where Burger broke up with Carrie on a Post-It note.
After months of trying to correct his behavior, the school had given up on Alex. I couldn’t decide whether to cry, scream, or head to the nearest bar to drink my frustrations away.
A good kid
My son is a good kid. I repeat that to myself at least once a day.
I know he has a wonderful heart. He loves his family, loves to laugh and be silly, and cares about how others see him. But he is challenging.
He can be aggressive. He hits, kicks, and throws things. Sometimes he says bad words and yells mean things at me or his teacher.
His outbursts started earlier this year, but we can’t pinpoint anything that triggered his change in behavior. We’ve had countless meetings and phone conversations at his school. We’ve taken him to several different counselors.
I have tried everything possible to encourage my son to behave like the good boy I know he is.
Good days turn to heartbreak
He’ll have a few good days in a row, and I’ll feel my shoulders start to relax a little. We reward him for getting “green lights” and play games after dinner. I see the light at the end of the tunnel.
But inevitably that light quickly fades away. Every morning, as I drop him off and give him a kiss goodbye, I say a prayer that he will have a good day.
When I get to work and settle into my desk, I stare at my phone. I know it’s only a matter of hours, maybe even minutes, before the school’s number flashes on the screen. “You need to pick Alex up again today. He is acting aggressive and we can’t have him in class.”
Every time it happens, another piece of my heart breaks apart.
Everyone has different advice to offer. We’ve done reward charts and token incentives. We’ve switched schools a few times. We have taken away toys, kept him home from extracurricular activities, denied dessert, and punished him.
Is something wrong?
Every time he does something bad, I ask myself, “What is wrong with him?”
The answer is nothing. Since he is only 4, doctors have suggested his actions are age appropriate. And while there has been talk of possibly testing him for ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, everyone has suggested we wait until he is a bit older.
One counselor said he has anxiety, although I think she really just needed to write something down in the diagnosis box on her clipboard.
Alex is a young boy learning to express his emotions and deal with his feelings. Alex needs to be accountable for his actions. I know we need to punish him and teach him right from wrong.
Balancing being tough with being a mom
The challenge is balancing being tough with being his mom. I want to protect him, hug him, tell him it’s going to be okay, and reassure him that whatever is upsetting him will go away.
Alex getting in trouble makes me question my ability to parent.
It tests my marriage and causes more arguments with my husband than I can count. He wants to take away all of Alex’s toys, and is generally stricter than I am. I prefer to reward the good behavior.
Bottom line, parenting is hard. I knew it wasn’t going to be a breeze, but I had no idea the level of frustration it would cause me as a mom. It’s a constant push and pull between making your children feel loved and raising them to be proper human beings.
I will never give up
But no matter what, he is my boy. So I will find another preschool and start again. I will keep taking him to counselors, rewarding his good behavior and disciplining the bad.
That’s what parenting is really about: fighting for our kids and loving them unconditionally.
And as hard as it gets sometimes, I will never, ever give up on him.
Editor’s Note: This blog post was submitted by an AllTheMoms.com contributor who asked to remain anonymous so as to not stigmatize her son. The child’s name has also been changed to protect his identity.