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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
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Pusher man.

Henry got in trouble yesterday for pushing. I've never known him to be a pusher, but hell, no one's perfect. The teacher took me aside after school. It's not a teacher I know well (they have a few teachers and they sort of rotate, or something, I'll never make sense of the system at work in this place) but I recognized that pinched expression, and I thought, crap.

"Henry was being… not very nice," she said. Which I thought was a less than productive way to express her displeasure, don't you? "He was pushing."

"Oh?" I said, and gave her a little shove. Ha ha!

"Oh?" I said, and kept my hands to myself.

"Then," she added, "when he asked him to apologize, he refused, and when we told him that [INSERT KID'S NAME HERE]'s feelings were hurt, he said, 'That's fine.'" She shook her head. "He said, 'I don't even care about him.'"

She seemed shocked by this. Had she never met a five-year-old before? Do all the other children immediately and sincerely express regret for hurting another's feelings? Do none of them attempt to save face by claiming not to care? Do I have the only full-of-crap preschooler in the universe?

I assured her that I would talk with him, but I didn't have to, because Henry gave me an EARFUL. WELL. That other kid was not following the rules, he was supposed to clean up the blocks when block time was over and he did not clean up the blocks when block time was over and those are the rules, and he wouldn't listen, and Henry was going to get in trouble for not cleaning up the blocks but it wasn't fair because everyone has to follow the rules.

In other words, he had a bad day. I tried to talk to him about pushing but lord, he knows he's not supposed to and he didn't want to talk about it and he kicked at trees the whole way home and called everyone in the universe stupid (sorry, even you). Should I have lectured him until he wept? Being a kid sucks sometimes. I opted to give him a break. I expect he'll stop pushing by the time he's in college.

P.S.: a new Wonderland post is up.

Reader Comments (78)

When I read 'pusher' I was like: "Henry's selling drugs?!! Already??? Man, the suburbs! They shoulda stayed in Brooklyn."
January 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterozma
this post (and comments) were truly heaven-sent today! we've been cooped up (a cold, the cold, the manual garage door) and the boys have been on top of each other, quite literally. i nearly offered up my younger one on freecycle. i'm close to turning my older one over to the WWF for the formal tutelage for which he's clearly gunning.

i so appreciate this reassurance. sigh.
January 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commentersusie
You tried to talk to him. (Good move, I think.)He didn't want any of it. (Yep. Typical for preschoolers).So, you backed off. (Good move, I think).At this point, I would raise the issue again when it's chatterbox time for him, or when he's at his calmest. I usually find that to be (with my son) at bath and bedtime.
January 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterIsabel Kallman
And I thought *I* was the only one not raising my children in the appropriate manner ;-)Right now I have a kindergartner who is an angel at home but at school has behaviors called things like "does not follow direction" and "out of control". At first I was horrified, but then I learned that "out of control" can mean anything from dancing to making loud noises to a full blown kicking and screaming tantrum.I will have to work with this school for years to come. Thus so far I have bitten my tongue and resisted saying "He is good for me, what are *you* doing wrong?".
January 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSophie
I'd like to push people who don't follow the rules, too. Into traffic. Sounds like Henry exercised admirable restraint.
January 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTammy
Pusher v. Pushed! Quite frankly, I think it oculd have been helpful if the teacher would have tried to find out why Henry (who sounds like a fairly non-pushing type of person) pushed someone in the first place... then she could have discussed the situation with both kids and not just cast the pushed into the role of victim and Henry as the bad guy.

January 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKristin
It always irks me just a little when others tell me my kid misbehaved. Not that I don't want to know, but it's usually not the whole story, or a trivial event, or SOMETHING. Sorry Henry had a bad day.
January 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKaren
When I was in seventh grade the vice principal caught me and my friend skipping class. He marched us down to his office and made us call our parents right then and there to tell them what we'd done. I was in tears. I called my dad at work and sobbingly confessed to what I'd done. He said, "Oh, you'll get over it." And god bless him, I did.
January 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterabbyjane
lol. on my son's first day of k he punched a kid in the face. and when the teacher (who is steadily pissing me off more and more, though not about this) told him to keep his hands to himself he looked her in the eye and said "ok" and spit on the kid. i nearly died of embarassment...and laughter. i laughed and said "how do you scrapbook the shanking of another student?" she was less than amused. keep rockin , henry.
January 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commentertif
Tell Henry he can come play at my house anytime. And while you're at it, tell him that I agree completely that there is nothing so stupid as people who don't follow the rules and get other people in trouble. I love a kid with a highly developed sense of fairness.
January 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterThe End of Motherhood?
Poor Henry. It's a rough life for us die-hard rule followers. As soon as he can count, he'll be standing in the express line, counting people's items, and seething silently when they're over. Push 'em while they can't arrest you and charge you with battery for it!
January 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJenn @ Juggling Life
"My mom says some days are like that. Even in Australia." (Judith Voirst)

You are a very good mama. That teacher sucks. (me)
January 18, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterthe mama bird diaries
Good for you for not jumping in with the teacher before hearing the whole story and turning all mean mommy on a kid who had a hard day. Poor Henry!

And I'm with you, Jenn! I TOTALLY count (and seethe)!
January 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLaylabean
We always tried to use those moments as opportunities to show the kids other ways to vent frustration at the montessori school where I worked. Though you do often end up having to repeat "use your words, not your hands" a million times over the course of the year...

I will never forget, though, the time one 4 yr old came running up to me and another teacher and told us that so-and-so had HIT HIM BACK!! and wanted us to punish the other kid for having done such a thing.
January 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMarcy
I expect you will see many comments regarding this post as we mothers have all dealt with this situation before in some way or another. And here's the thing: all teachers have dealt with this situation in some way or another as well. So it kind of irks me the way the teacher chose to sort of guilt-trip you into talking to your son about it. C'mon, the kid is 5. A simple, "no pushing. we keep our hands to oursevles" (from teacher) would suffice...right? 'Course, then again, maybe I myself am indeed raising a future playground bully? Did I mention I have two girls?!
January 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMegan
Hey, sometimes I want to push people when they don't follow the rules, too. And I'm 34. You're right. If he's still pushing in college, you can start to worry.
January 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKaren C.
When my son was 4, his preschool teacher told me that he had shoved a girl and knocked her over. He would not apologize, and wouldn't even admit to doing it. (even though 2 teachers saw him) They put him in time out for 20 minutes, and he still wouldn't come clean.When I asked him what happened, he said "Welllll......She was......jumping up and down , and......just sort of fell over"To this day, (four years later) he still won't admit to it.Should I worry?
January 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJill
A pinched look for pushing? If she keeps teaching she's gonna look 70 when she's 30.

You know what's funny, though? The expression on a kid's face when he/she gets pushed for doing something obnoxious. It's always "HEY YOU JUST Pushed... me... Oh. Yeah, well. Okay."
January 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMignon
This reminds me a lot of a time when I was five, and there was this mean boy in my class who was always harassing other students and didn't listen to the teachers, and this one day he started stabbing people in the back with a pencil-- not enough to break the skin, just enough to leave a little mark-- and he kept doing it over and over and over again to me during circle time, and finally I got mad and I stabbed HIM in the back with a pencil, and of course the teacher SAW me do it one time even though this kid had been doing it to people all day without getting caught, and so I was the one who got in the most trouble and HE practically got off scot free.

That jerk.
January 19, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjaelithe
Geez, people. Take responsibility. Character is important. And, when it's all said and done and Henry grows up to once in a while steal a parking place or stiff a valet parker for a tip, we will wonder why the world is a little meaner. It all matters. Teachers rarely mention tiny problems. If she mentioned it that means it was big enough to bring to your attention. Henry deserves to know the rules. Don't let him make his own justice. He'll become the President or something.
January 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterThe Jerk
this is how i stop worrying about everything. she won't suck her thumb in college. he won't argue about taking a shower every single time in college.
January 19, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterkate
I didn't take time to read all the other comments, busy life and all. Or something.Either way: I think you really did great.My oldest son is almost four, and he is a really good kid. Just like Henry, he sometimes has a bad day and I reason the same as you do. 'He is a good kid having a bad day, cut him some slack.'

Besides, we are talking about children, they still need to learn.And let's be honest here, even adults sometimes don't care.Because the others were not being fair, or because we can't stand them stinkers, or any other reason. We are humans and we are every now and then allowed not to care.For children even more so.

I couldn't resist and just read the last five comments. Jerk: we are not raising perfect children, nobody wants to live in Stepford.

January 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDanny
When I was 4 and attending summer daycare, I bit a boy on the head because he wouldn't go down the slide and was making us all wait. Also, he was a little shit in general. When my mom came to pick me up, one of the staff members took her aside and told her what had happened. My mom apologized and said she'd deal with it. The staff member then leaned closer to my mother, lowered her voice, and whispered, "To be honest, Nic did what the staff has been wanting to do to that kid all week."I had never bitten anyone before, and I never did again. Another case of good kid, bad day.

January 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNic
What I suspect the teacher may have feared would happen is that the pushee would tell his mother that, from his POV, Henry throttled him thricely with a hammer for sniffing too loudly. And that the parent might threaten to make an enormous stink and come throw eggs at your house if the teacher didn't "deal with it".

And since the teacher isn't really allowed to roll her eyes at the other parent, or roll her eyes while telling you about the incident, she had to clumsily find some way to talk about it and relay the other parent's concerns while taking the blame for the ridiculous over-concern herself.

Or, at least I've known that kind of thing to happen in some of the preschools I've heard tell of. Parents feel that teachers aren't dealing with the problem and next thing you know, that parent has told the exaggerated story to ten other parents in the preschool, and though most of the parents roll their eyes, one or two might actually tell their kids that "Henry is a bad boy and don't talk or play with him every again."

It stinks. But there it is. Another possibility.

Tell Henry that if he's going to get in trouble for pushing, to next time at least set the kid down on his rump.

Just kidding. ;-) Being a kid is hard.
January 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJozet from Halushki
I'd love to read the blog of the other kid's mom...

"Can you believe some kid pushed Dylan at school today? His allergies are driving him crazy lately, and had to blow his nose after playtime. He's still a little guy and blowing his nose is a big production. Anyway, he told me he turned away from the other kids at the block area to blow his nose and (insert kid's name here) pushed him because he wasn't helping to clean up! Luckily he didn't get hurt and the teacher saw the whole thing. But when she asked (insert kid's name here) to apologize, he said right to Dylan's face that he didn't care about him. All the teacher could do was weakly apologize to me when I came to pick him up. My little guy cried about it the whole walk home. "(Insert kid's name here) doesn't like me!" he sobbed. And now he doesn't want to go back on Monday. I know they're only 5-year-olds, but what kind of kid wouldn't listen to the teacher and apologize when asked to?"
January 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCharity

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