Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Every time I had to prepare for Parent/Teacher conferences, I would sit down to write out things some students would do that made me insanely angry, and without fail, after thinking about them for a few minutes, I would convince myself that whatever it was that they were doing, really wasn't that bad. Part of my dilemma was that I would look over some of their assignments and remember the work they'd put into completing it. I remember a group of seventh graders that I had that were particularly challenging, but when we got to a unit on poetry the stuff they wrote about was really lovely and honest.
Another problem I had was that despite what any kid would do, there would be something that would happen that would make me see a good thing in him or her. I had one kid in a class once that was truly a bully. If you looked "bully" up in any education book it wouldn't surprise me if his picture was next to it. He was fierce. And the kids loved him. He once took a water spray bottle that I had to clean the chalkboards with and sprayed it in my face. Even now writing about it I get angry. I wanted to body slam him I was so mad. He was sent to the office (obviously) and later, when I went down there ready to scream at him he was sitting in the administrator's office sobbing. And all I could remember at that point is the time this student brought in his pet lizard to show the class when we were reading the book Holes. The way this student had protected this lizard from the crowd of kids around it was something I'd never seen - or thought he was capable of. He kept running his hand down the lizard's tail and he was talking to him so quietly to try and calm the lizard down.
When I was a teacher, I would go through these extreme emotions - rage and love - a lot with middle schoolers, and I find myself thinking about these kids a lot these days because now that Hadley is in the thick of being three, rage and love seem to frequent my days with her.
And it's not that I don't want to write about the things Hadley does that make me angry, but it's more that for every insane thing she does that makes me clench my fists, she'll do something so sweet that melts my heart. It's confusing.
Hadlely's aware of it too. Lately, when she wakes up in the morning she'll say, "Mama, I'm not gonna fight at all today." It reminds me of when I was a little girl and would wake up and tell myself, "Today I'm not going to sin at all."
At the same time, I know I can't just focus on the good things that Hadley does because as her mother, I know that I am responsible for teaching her appropriate behavior.
So what I'm trying to do with this post is document a little slice of Hadley at age three. If she reads this someday I hope she'll understand that I'm not complaining about her. I hope she understands that as angry as I get with her, I see her whole person, and I don't let those crazy bad things she does define who she is. When she becomes a limp noodle when I try to dress her in the morning and it ends up taking two hours-and lots of screaming-I walk it off. Or when she tells me she's not leaving a place and I literally have to drag her (we look like we're re-enacting the scene from What's Up Doc? where Madeline Kahn is dragged out of the dinner party), once I stop shaking with anger, I forget about it.
Because she does things like this:
After their Romp and Roll classes, the girls get stamps on their hands. Yesterday, Harper was running all over the place and she missed getting one. As we were getting ready to go, Hadley noticed that Harper didn't have her stamp. She went to tell the teacher that Harper didn't have a stamp. The way she said it, to me, was amazing. The room was crowded and noisy, and there was a lot going on. But Hadley walked right up to the teacher and said, "Excuse me, Miss Jocelyn, my sister Harper didn't get a stamp." And then she extended her arm with her palm up to show the teacher where Harper was so she could give her a stamp.
Or the other day Jesse had his toolbox out and Hadley wanted to help him. She got her toolbox out and worked by him for a bit. Then she said, "Daddy, that's a really cool toolbox." And then she gave him a hug.
She can be so sweet and so naughty, and Jesse and I are often left in her wake trying to figure out how to get back up on smooth water.
I'm sure my vow to not sin when I was younger was heartfelt, just like Hadley's promise to not fight is. And I appreciate that she is trying. But I hope that she knows, like I knew, that no matter what she does there is not a thing she can do that will make her parents love her any less. Ever.