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.