Thursday, September 11, 2008

photo by Miss Paige

I have already admitted that first grade is throwing some kinks into our lives. Eli comes home exhausted and starving which equals grumpy and uncooperative. He admits that he doesn't eat his lunch because he will miss out on all the fun at recess! Totally typical, I know. I would really love the school to keep them at lunch for at least 15 minutes, then excuse them for recess. I can't imagine the 20+ kids in his class are a bundle of fun around 2 pm, I know that at least half of them don't eat their lunch either.

I am better off not knowing what goes on at school, it went on when I was a kid and I turned out somewhat normal. My friend pulled up to school with her first grader and heard the kids yelling "CHICKEN FIGHT! CHICKEN FIGHT!", saw two bodies up on the bars, legs wrapped around each other and then WHAM! One fell to the ground, hard. It was Eli. He was fine, popped right back up, but seriously!!! These kids are hanging with the ground about 4 - 5 feet below them, trying to throw the other down with their legs. Where are the teachers? Some parents stepped in and made a NO CHICKEN FIGHT rule. It has held so far. It's all fun and games until someone lands on their head.

The same friend's little boy is crying each night because he doesn't want to get hurt at school. At each recess some punk is coming up to him and punching him, asking if it hurts and then walking away. He doesn't know who it is and neither does Eli. Then yesterday, I am asking Eli what happened at recess and he says, "T got choked to death", while chewing his meat.

"What?! What did you do?"

"I chucked him."

Me, trying not to laugh at this comment (at Eli chucking someone, not T getting choked - not funny), "What do you mean?"

"I chucked the kid that was choking T. I picked him up and threw him. Then S went to tell a teacher."

At first Eli acted like he didn't know the choker's name, but he gave it up. For some reason, T is getting picked on at school. I'm not sure when it happens, I know that when something has happened and Eli is there, Eli has always stepped in (which is comical, given that he stands at least 3-4 inches shorter than all his friends).

Then J was telling his mom that he got punched in the face today by a certain kid in their class. He doesn't know why and it was taken care of. J also had a friend tell him that he couldn't play soccer with them, so they tussled. J said Eli and S stood up for him, but probably not forcefully enough. J also said that he got knocked down by someone. This group of boys have two teams, the Lightning Cups and The Spies. They battle eachother. That is how J got punched. Spencer thought they were fighting for real (he made up the game) not pretend. Why would you fight for real???

I know all this is normal. I know that we have to let kids learn in each situation and figure it out. I think there is a tendency to step in and micromanage (I know I do it) and tell each child to do this, this and this in order to resolve problems. I know that in the daily run of the day, these things that happen (minus the getting punched at recess and choked) and it is out of sight out of mind for the kids. For me, I can't stand it. I want Eli to be the kid that says, "Everyone gets to play soccer." I want him to crusade around the playground, fighting bullies, kicking a** and taking names. I don't want name-calling, especially by my child or at my child. I don't want to see one kid walking alone at recess, or someone pushing another down and I have had enough punching!

We rehearse these situations hypothetically in the car. "Eli, what do you do if someone tells your friend they can't play?" "Eli, what do you do if someone is punching your friend?" "Eli, what do you do if someone is pushing your face in mud full of snails and boogers?"

Yeah, I would be much better off not knowing what goes on all day at school. I probably only know 1/100 of the stuff that happens and I am well aware that the majority of the interaction each day is positive and enjoyable. We are three weeks into the school year and I think all the drama is giving me an ulcer.

**I may have painted the picture that Eli is neither the picked on or the pick-ee. That he is always the caped boy wonder. I want you to know that I know Eli is capable of being a stinkpot of a kid, but I am lucky that usually he is only a stinkpot to me (and only a small amount of time) and so much of the time a great kid to every one else. I've said this before, I would so much rather Eli be picked on than be the picker. Last night he was so sad because he spent so much time not eating his dinner and so much time not doing his reading that he ended up in bed without playing games. We had a talk and I told him he needed to make better choices. He moans, in the most pitiful voice, "Oh, I am such a bad choice maker. I never make good choices. I'll never be able to have fun again!" And anyone who knows him can only imagine the severely hunched shoulders and big fat lower lip. We are working through our issues at home. But my heart aches at what pain is ahead in this world we call social interraction. And now I have made him sound like a big baby. I am horrible at this positive parenting thing, aren't I? Let me rephrase: Great kid, usually makes outstanding choices, loves the color orange just like his mom, is the best at making anyone fell super special, must have low blood sugar.


Lacey said...

My stomach hurts thinking about this. I honestly feel sick when kids are mean to Ella. She's 4! Poor Eli. I'm not looking forward to "real" school situations!

Molly said...

Glad to know I'm not the only one with an incredibly grouchy 1st grader! Wow! No one warned me about this phenomenon. I told my hubby I barely recognize my own child when he steps off the bus. My sweet, patient boy comes home breathing fire and gnashing his teeth. Yikes. Maybe they'll adjust to the rigors of a long day at school by Christmas?? One can only hope...

Mike, Tia & Annabelle said...

Wow, I had totally forgotten the dramas of elementary school. I think it'll be really hard for me to not get too involved once I have school goers. Hopefully things will settle down soon and Eli will continue being the great boy he has always been. Good Luck!

Grampster said...

It is great to hear a story about a great kid figuring stuff out at school. I think the best thing you are doing is talking it out and role playing the possible situations. Way to go Whit.

Meghan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Meghan said...

chucked him? lightening cups? i love little kids with big growing minds.

Miss said...

I couldnt keep from laughing at the thought of little Eli chicken fighting in mid air. Maybe you should make him wear his helmet to school. Reagan got punched in the stomach as recess and her big sister saw and came over and yelled at the kid to get his hands off of her sister. The kid stood up...only coming to her chest and said "O yeah and how old are you". She replied 10 and he backed off and said "I see we have a problem" Of course the rest of the story was that Reagan likes to play wrestling with the boys and this one just took it too far. Good to know Big Sister will stand up when she has to.
I hope my cute little nephew survives 1st grade.

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Through the Looking Glass said...

Man, and they're not even in jr, high yet... I hear you, sista, and it just continues on and on as the years go by. I don't know how to stop it, stave it, change it or really accept it, so I guess we have to just acknowledge how complex it is and encourage our kids to be the best version of themselves. Sounds like E is on his way already.