The teacher has my cellphone number and uses it daily to keep me informed about my grandson, Bradley’s progress as a new Kindergarten student. Normally, progress would indicate someone is moving forward in their abilities. In Bradley’s case, it means nothing went wrong that day.
School began five weeks ago. Since that first day when he threw his lunch at other students and created well-balance pile of cafeteria food around his seat on the floor, I’ve received approximately 14 phone calls. When I see the teacher’s number come up on my caller ID, I grab something to drink and find a comfortable chair before I answer.
I have never received calls from a teacher in the middle of a school day directly from the classroom or playground until now. It was pretty novel when it began. I liked the instant updates and our ability to discuss the problem while it was fresh. Sometimes, I even talked to Bradley about what happened right then and reinforced whatever the teacher told him about his actions. We kind of laughed in the beginning, figuring he’s just having some adjustment issues.
It wasn’t until the seventh or eighth call, I began to figure it out. Bradley does not realize he’s not at home. He is very young, just turned five before school began, and he has no concept that there are boundaries in kindergarten. I will offer examples:
He threw spaghetti and hit another child in the back of the head and on his shirt. Other days, it was peas, fruit, pieces of bread and pizza.
He walked out of the restroom in the classroom with no pants on, in his underwear and went to his seat to sit down. The teacher asked him where his shorts were and he told her, “I can’t put them on, they are c-r-a-z-y.” She told him he could do it and to try again.
He went into the classroom restroom another day when the teacher was distracted and made a little girl get off the toilet so he could use it. They started arguing and the teacher discovered a fight in the potty.
Another day, he went to put his lunch tray in the garbage can and he tossed it at the garbage can instead of placing it and it missed. His food went everywhere, the tray landed on the floor. The cafeteria guard made him come back, pick it up and clean up his mess.
Then, two weeks ago, his…weenie (his word, not mine) fell out of his shorts during lunch. Instead of tucking it back where it belongs, he decided to make the most of the laughter he’d already started and kept it out. Now there’s a counselor in the classroom watching his behavior to make a recommendation about what we can all do to help Bradley succeed. (My first recommendation would be tighter underwear.)
Oh yeah, and he’s still throwing food. Not every day, but once or twice a week. Progress.
While this is not my first experience with a wild kindergartener, Bradley has the title as the most persistent. My son, Kevin, had a food fight his first day of school. His cousin, Joey, kissed a boy during naptime her first day. So, while there is a pattern in our family of Kindergarten misbehavior, Kevin and Joey are both now productive adults who rarely throw food or kiss strangers.
So maybe there’s hope.
Written September 2011