Monday, February 13, 2012

Choice And Consequence

The first time, he told on himself.

The second Hubba walked in the door from school he went to my room and seemed kind of nervous and mopey. When I asked if everything was okay, he spilled the beans.

"We were standing in our lines after recess, waiting to go in to the school. The teacher was already all the way in the doors and it was just me and John* still out there, but he wouldn't move! I kept telling him to move, but he just stood there, and the rule is No Cutting In Line so I had to kick and push him a little to make him go."

We talked about how it would have been better to break the No Cutting In Line rule than to kick or push someone. Hubba mentioned that his teacher had talked to both he and John about that. Then he said, "I'm sorry, Mom." I asked if he had apologized to John. He had. "I don't want to hear of this happening again," I told him. Then I gave him a squeeze and thanked him for telling me about it.

The next time I got a call from the principal's secretary.

The third time he told on himself again. He had pushed a kid down the slide because he was tired of waiting for his turn. "Did you push him off the slide or down the slide?" I asked, nervous. "Just down," he answered, "but he was really mad at me."

The fourth time, the principal called me to tell me that Hubba and Josh* had gotten into an argument on the way to music class which ended with Hubba hitting Josh. The music teacher sent them both to the principal's office where Hubba had lied about what happened, saying that Josh hit him first. It turns out that Josh didn't hit him at all. When Hubba got home that day we talked about what had happened. "Josh kept saying that the aircraft carrier in Battleship is this big (arms open wide) and I was telling him that it's this big (finger and thumb held about an inch apart) but he kept saying, 'No, it's this big'. So I had to hit him to make him stop talking." As a side note, Hubba loves the game Battleship. He will play it with anyone who is willing at any time. And he's pretty passionate about the names of the ships. Apparently their size is important, too. Anyway, we talked about how no one ever has to hit another person, it's a choice - a bad choice in most circumstances. He didn't get to play Battleship for 2 weeks.

Just last week we found a message on our answering machine from the principal's secretary. We didn't hear the message until a couple of weeks after the incident, but Hubba was building a snowman during recess and another boy had knocked the head off. Hubba responded by hitting the kid. Hubba was sent to the principal and lied, saying the boy had hit him first. As they talked, Hubba admitted that he was the only one who did any hitting. The principal was concerned that Hubba's way of dealing with problems is through being untruthful and hitting instead of talking to an adult about what's going on.

One day after school I went into Hubba's class to find his coat. His teacher told me about another incident on the way to music class that afternoon. The boys' line was standing in place, waiting to enter the class, and Hubba had pushed the person in front of him down, causing everyone else to fall in succession. When I asked him why he would do such a thing he told me that the row of boys looked like a whole line of dominoes and he wanted to see if they would topple like dominoes do. And they did!

And then there was last Thursday. Hubba was caught peeing on the floor in the boy's bathroom. Another student reported him and the head custodian called to let me know that she was going to have him clean up his mess. When I asked him why he did it he told me that when you start going pee you can get it into the 'wall toilet' just fine from far away but by the end it doesn't reach that high anymore so it gets on the floor. And besides that, it seemed like it would be fun.


After this latest incident, I was feeling especially overwhelmed and frustrated. What's going on with my kid? Why all of this acting out? I tried to call the principal but he was busy with another parent. I went in to talk to Hubba's teacher after school to see if there was anything going on in his classroom. Does he have friends? Is he happy? She thought so, on both accounts. We talked with the assistant principal to work out a consequence for Hubba's actions (I personally thought that just cleaning up his pee wasn't enough) and she agreed to have him come in after school one day and clean the black scuff marks off of the floor in the halls.

I was there to supervise his efforts. He kept saying things like, "I hate cleaning up after other people's mess!" Well, Hubba, now you know how it feels. After an hour he had buffed out 61 rows worth of tiles with the bottom of his shoe. He was exhausted, but proud of his work.

He is also cleaning the bathrooms at our house daily over the next week.

We are going to schedule some time where Allen or I can be at the school during recess this week to observe Hubba from a distance, to see if something is happening on the playground to cause this behavior.

I'm not sure what else we can do, but I feel like we need to do something. I do not understand this side of Hubba. And I realize that because I am his mother I am biased, but the Hubba I know is a sweet, sometimes crazy, silly/funny, tender-hearted, precocious boy. Sure, he has his faults, like not knowing how to control his anger and the typical potty humor of a 7-year-old boy, but man do I love this kid with a fierce, mama-bear kind of all-consuming, heart aching kind of love. And I just want to get to the bottom of things. I want to know what's going on inside his head.

I hope we get this worked out soon.


Rachel said...

My second to the oldest had to spend quite a bit of time at that school cleaning it as well. :) One day he just thought (or didn't think rather) that it would be cool to walk with his pencil along the walls and drew lines all down the hall as he walked. WHU??? He had to erase every tiny little mark on those walls and when you're erasing walls, those halls feel like a million miles!

I'm sorry Gerb that you're going through this. It is hard as a parent because we see the sweet and adorable and love with a passion child so when they act out it is hard.

The peeing..... I get. The hitting...... that's a tough one. Send him to school with Levi. All of the kids in Levi's class resort to hitting to make a point. :) He'll be in good company.

This may seem extreme but my sister had a child that hit. So, she told her child since he couldn't use his hands properly he couldn't use them at all. She tied his hands behind his back. I can't remember for how long and she did it a few times but it worked.

HL said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kristin said...

I'm sorry you have to deal with that Gerb! It really does break a mother's heart. I have spent many days after school talking to teachers about things my boy is struggling with. I hope the teacher and principal are smart enough to realize that you are an AMAZING mother and that your little guy is an adorable boy who, honestly, came up with some pretty good excuses for why he is doing what he is doing. Ha ha! I'm sure his actions seemed perfectly rational in his little boy mind :) Hope things start working out for the best.

Chip said...

Well... Jaiden has had some struggles with bullies at school. His way of coping is "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em..."

The worst part is that he takes it out on his close friends and especially his #1 defender: Brooklyn (Jaiden is in 4th, Brooklyn is in 2nd grade). We have tried the route of taking away privileges, but to no avail. What seems to work best (but we are lousy with consistency) is praising and going out of our way to point out how grateful we are when he does something positive.

Anaise said...

I'm the mother of girls, so I feel a little out of place giving a reply, but I'm also the mother of a hitter, so I feel your pain.

Hubba is a very, very clever little boy! You've shown that a multitude of times. He's also only 7 years old. 50 or 100 years ago he would just have been seen as a scrappy little fellow. He never seems to hit out of maliciousness, just out of thinking that's the quickest way to solve a problem. We're too much of an anti-hitting society these days to have room for kids like him. No one ever says "Boys will be boys" anymore, but isn't it true?

The peeing--that's funny! It really is! It was a sort of physics/math experiment that went awry. He's a clever one!

My guess is that he needs more physical activity and more space to move in his day--I'm not calling him hyperactive or anything, just saying that 7 hours at school would even be hard on me.

Your boy is a treasure, and he has incredibly clever, loving parents with a testimony of the Gospel and a loving Heavenly Father who can inspire us with the solutions to our problems. I have no doubt this will soon be a funny/wry memory.

Brown Thumb Mama said...

Oh Gerb! What a toughie. I don't have a 100% good answer for you, but we practice role-playing good choices a lot.

Maybe you could teach him that hands are for signing (good choice) and not for hitting (bad choice)--and how to verbalize his emotions when he needs to.

Is there a complicated sign that he would be proud to learn? Giving his hands something new to do might be the ticket. He can also show off his new sign to Grandma, Uncle Chip, etc and get some positive attention!!

You have a tough problem but Hubba is a VERY SMART boy and this too shall pass. Hang in there! Much love!!

Gerb said...

Rach- It's a toughie, isn't it? I'm sure he'll outgrow it. It's just hard right now.

HL- I noticed your comment is gone now but I read it before it disappeared and I wanted to thank you for sharing your experience with me. It helps too know that others understand. :)

Kristin- His teacher is pretty awesome. I'm glad he's in her class because she's one of those that seems to 'get' him and she loves him despite his faults.

Chip- That has to be tough for Jaiden. Man, do I love that kid. I hope things start to look up for him with the surgery. I think it will give him some more self-confidence and also help him to see that if he can do that, he can do anything! We are trying to praise Hubba for his good deeds, too. Thanks for the comment - love you!

Anaise- Thanks for your insights. I agree, this will all be really funny eventually! That's why I chose to write about it. I know we'll look back on it one day and laugh at how clever and smart Hubba is.

BTM- One of their school's rules is: Hands are for helping, not hurting. We remind him of that often but I can see how some 'helping' ideas might make sense to him. Thanks!

Linn said...

Aren't we all there at times or feel like we are one step away? Parenting is worth it, but can be so complicated at times. I'm sorry about all of it. You are such a good mom (honestly, just amazing in my book) and will know what to do when the time is right. Thinking of you!

Anonymous said...

My little girl kindergartener has issues with listening to her teacher, me, anyone. Very frustrating. Thanks for this post. Jerri

Blogful said...

Maybe's he's too young for delayed gratification, but you could make a chart at home and talk about patience: "Mom! I waited and was patient at the slide today!" and reward with a sticker or a week of good patience gets ice cream with Dad on Saturday. I think boys like to hit and wrestle and be more physical, but I'd nip the lying in the bud...not sure how.... I hope you post follow up on this because you've got lots more mother experience than I do and I need to learn from you!

Blogful said...

Wait: another thought. I can't even believe I am suggesting this. What if you started hitting him. Like a game. You know, like, he's standing in the way in the kitchen so you just shove him to the side. Or you want him to pass the bread and go hit him when he takes a long time. Then lie about it when he confronts you or gets upset. Maybe it could be a hitting FHE lesson where everyone hits to get their way. Make a big joke about it. Hang a sign in the kitchen: "Hit someone today day." Talk about how if everyone hits and lies it would be a pretty crummy time.

Anthony said...

my son was having the same problem. especially with his sister, he got to the point of biting and exactly for the same reason, because he is trying to get a solution to a problem like; she wouldn't give me my toy back, he wouldn't get out of my seat, etc. i've been trying to get him to express his feelings rather than hitting to show he is upset about something. i don't want him to think that he needs to just keep the anger to himself.

i've told him when he feels this way he needs to verbalize calmly and if need be he needs to step away to cool down. if you want to go that route, let his teacher know that you are using this method so she will allow him to step away for cool down when needed.

We've also put him in karate class to allow him to channel his energy and release the tension. our school district has $6 classes held on campus. Every class they have them promise that they "will never use my karate to hurt anyone" they also teach the difference between self-defense and attacking or bullying. you could check if your school has something similar or even football.

Becky Rose said...

Look up Kelso's decisions. Kelso is a frog and can choose from many choices when a conflict arises. Here is the link. Here is a link to the printable.

and here is a link to the program for schools.

Lots of great ideas of how to deal with the hitting. have a FHE and keep teaching these problem solving techniques

Gerb said...

Linn- I appreciate the support. Thanks.

Jerri- I'd love to hear if you come up with any sort of solution! Good luck to you. I know it's no fun.

Blogful- We've been trying to spend more time with him & acknowledge when he does something good. This last week was a better week. We'll see how things go from here on out.

Anthony- I like the idea of taking a 'cool down'. I also like the idea of getting him involved in some sort of activity like karate. Thanks for the comment and ideas. I truly appreciate your taking the time to do so.

Becky- That looks like a good idea for conflict management but it's pretty pricey for home use. It could be beneficial for all of us if we had a FHE lesson on hitting, though - and we could use the wheel printable to reinforce it. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment!