Friday, May 15, 2009


Joey is going through . . . something. He's acting out. At home for a while now, and now come to find out at school as well. At home it's stuff like bullying his sisters (pinching, hitting, pushing, etc.), lying (about having done his homework), stealing (he took some coins of Kevin's that didn't belong to him and hid them, and I caught him red-handed taking a shiny new penny from the bowl of change we keep in the kitchen - not a huge deal, but it's the principle of it), engaging in general mischief (like stuffing markers down the toilet; and it has recently become clear since that toilet keeps backing up that the markers are very likely stuck in the toilet itself and the toilet's gonna have to come up - ugh), and being highly emotional. At school he's become a tattletale, tattling about every single perceived slight he perceives that he has been dealt (and also, according to his teacher, when he tattles and she investigates, it usually turns out that Joey started it with the other kid).

Last night the first grade put on a play at school (more on that in a separate post). After the play, the families went back to the classroom for milk and cookies. When we were ready to leave, Joey's teacher said, "Joey, let's have a little talk outside . . . mom, why don't you join us?" So I followed them out, smiling and thinking she was going to tell him what a great kid he is and how fantastic he did in the play, but turns out, she wanted to talk to him about having hurt a classmate's feelings before the play when they were changing into their costumes, by making fun of the way he talks.

I was so taken aback. First of all, seeing the crushed look on his face as his teacher reprimanded him broke my heart. I felt his pain, but I couldn't protect him. What he did was wrong, and he needed to be told that. I felt as if I were being reprimanded . . . I mean, really, it all comes back to me and Michael, right? Our kid's behavior is going down the toilet because we're not parenting him effectively.

A lot of this stuff is typical "kids will be kids" stuff, I guess. So I don't want to make mountains out of molehills here. But the fact is, this is all very out of character for Joey. He's always been a very sweet kid, very loving and happy. Sensitive and emotional? Yes. But not mean, and not obnoxious. It wasn't all that long ago that we went to his parent-teacher conference at school and his teacher told us how "He's everybody's friend," and "He's so helpful to everyone."

I think he's unhappy. I think he's feeling lost in the shuffle. Partly because of where he falls in the family line-up, and partly because there is so much going on here, so many other big things that are pulling Michael's and my focus and energy elsewhere. And he's clearly feeling it and reacting to it.

I'm troubled. Enough so that I tossed and turned over it all night last night.

I don't even have any epiphanies here, no neat little moral to wrap up this post with. We need to make a better effort with him, that's clear. But those are just words, and much easier said than done.


Mom of 2 said...

I know this might be far fetched
but my nephew started acting out
and being very emotional at
around 7-8 yrs old. He was diagnosed at around 12 with a
thyroid condition- he now takes
pills everyday.
He was the most quiet baby- you
never would have thought he
would become such a troublemaker.
He actually had a behavior chart
in school!
He is now a senior and doing
Just a thought I had when you
described Joey...

Anonymous said...

Hugs. Huge hugs Momma.
Maybe you can have a few nice moments with him here and there like when you made the muffins. Or talk to him about when he was a baby ( cute sayings he had and such) I did that recently with DD ( 8 ) and she wrote in the mother's day card that she gave me, that it was such a special time for her....
I know how it feels when your kid's teacher tells you that they have misbehaved. Or acting up.
I feel immediately "busted" . Like they are going to say : " It's all b/c you have so many kids"
Truth is kids can act up for many reasons and maybe it has something to do with the fact that summer is almost here? Maybe simply the kids are tired of going to school and doing their best? I don't know, I feel that way when I make another 5 lunches in the morning.