Our son loves school. He loves learning. He is looking forward to first grade. And me? I wish it started yesterday.
Don’t get me wrong. I love our son but he’s been driving me nuts these last few weeks before school starts! I am guessing the feeling is mutual for him. I am guessing that mostly by his screaming in my face a few hundred times a day.
A snapshot of choice events: I carry him screaming from library-time; I almost get hit by a car retrieving the bag of waffles he kicked into the street instead of carrying into the house. At one point we are both yelling and crying.
In the last couple of weeks he has been like Dr. No on steroids and I have lost any semblance of patience. He says “No!” to things he likes doing just to say “No.”
“T, would you like to see the Thor movie, have some ice cream and a ride on a dinosaur?”
Two minutes later he demands, “ICE CREAM, THOR, DINOSAUR!”
“Seriously?” I asked, “Did you say ‘No’ because you didn’t want to say ‘Yes’ to me?!”
“No!” he said. Then, “Yes!”
We had a particularly dreadful incident last week. We were at the playground at his school. It’s one of those new-fangled continuous play areas with multiple slides, tunnels and climbers. They are about 12 feet high and 40 feet long. Are these things designed by wily entrepreneurial six-year-olds?
During the hour we were there I talked with a friend and he played. When I asked him to come down he refused.
“No,” he shouted, followed by a mean little laugh.
I made sure to keep pleading out of my voice, “Please come down, now.”
“No, no, no, no, no, no!”
My friend had left. I looked around for potential help. There were three other adults on the playground: The guy putting down fresh wood chips in preparation for the returning students seemed oblivious to my plight; a dad who frankly looked scared by the prospect of becoming involved; and another mother whose eyes seemed to be saying, “Better you than me, Sister.”
At that moment, T pretended he was going to throw himself off the biggest slide. He was running in place like a cartoon character, punctuating it with that same mean little laugh. At that point the Dad moved further from our end of the play structure, or what I have come to think of as “The Mommy Teaser.”
I called my husband. I briefly explained the situation in a whispered voice ending with, “He is such a jerk!”
“Okay, did anyone there just hear you described our son as ‘jerk”? He asked.
“No,” I said, feeling ashamed.
While I discussed my seemingly few options with my husband, the Wood Chip Guy called up to T, “Hey, Buddy, let’s see you come down the slide.”
And he did it. I met him at the bottom.
“Thank you,” I said to our hero.
“No problem,” he said, “I have kids. I also work the school playgrounds this time of year. I’ve noticed everybody kind of needs school to start.”
*In the spirit of full disclosure I wrote most of this post with a six-year-old intermittently screaming in the background.
About Kari Wagner-Peck
Kari Wagner-Peck has a master’s degree in social work. Her career path includes: clinical work with survivors of abuse, advocacy and public education. She finds parenting to be a funny, trying and rewarding adventure. She believes disability is a natural part of life not to be feared or pitied but accepted. She and her husband and son live with two rescue dogs. She has been with Empowering Parents 1-on-1 Coaching since 2013. You can follow her at atypicalson.com and on Twitter @atypicalson.