the first time out of the year

The other day one of my boys had a hard time.  I’ve been watching him and wondering ever since the first day of school, when, on our brief tour of the school, he asked, “Where is the behavior room?”

At arrival time the children were sitting at tables with manipulatives.  He was at the table with the colorful little vehicles.  A blond boy, only recently turned 4, said, “He took my cars!”  I went over to see what was going on, and found that it was true.  I said to my behavior boy (who has already turned 5), “Honey, you can’t take other people’s stuff.  You are not allowed to touch other people’s trays, and they’re not allowed to touch your tray.  Now please give him back his cars.”

Behavior boy looked unmoved.  “Well, since I took them and now I have them, I get to keep them.”

I was thinking “WTF?!” but I said, “Nope, that is not how it works.  You took them, you must return them.”  He did, reluctantly.  The newly minted 4 year old beamed, already happy again.  I thought about how we could avoid this problem again.

“You know, if you want something that is on someone else’s tray, you could just ask.  Let’s try it now.  Say, ‘Can I have an orange car?'”

Behavior Boy looked quite skeptical, but he said, “Can I have an orange car?” and Blondie, beaming, gave him one.

“See how easy that was?” I asked.  “You just need to use your words.  Maybe the other person will say no, but maybe they will say yes.”


At recess I reminded the children about the no-hitting rule, and the rule that the rubber chips on the ground have to stay on the ground.  Not much time went by before Blondie’s buddy came up to me and said, “He threw chips at Blondie’s face!”

And it turned out that not only had he thrown chips, he had thrown them so hard as to leave a mark.  Blondie wasn’t too upset, but I was.  I put Behavior Boy on the bench and explained to him once more that we can’t hurt people.  He replied, “Well, I can throw them at that other guy, because I don’t like him.”  Last week he pushed a boy in our class “because I don’t like his hair.”

So, it’s going to be an interesting year with this one.

But ARGH!  Where does he get this stuff?
On a positive note, in between the two incidents, he had a great time at the writing center, where he made a book about a robot, and how his mother saved him from the robot.  Then he made another book, this one featuring himself as the vanquisher, who “saved the world.”  His understanding of the conventions of story was amazing.  His illustrations were terrific, and perfectly matched the words he dictated to me.  We had a great time making his robot books, and I was happy to get to know him better.
On an embarrassing note, I talked to his male nanny after school about the difficulties of the morning, and it was super hard to concentrate.  That nanny is HOT.


3 thoughts on “the first time out of the year

  1. I feel your pain! The past two years I’ve had students like Behaviour Boy in my classes…the exasperation and amusement all too often go hand in hand. I wish you the best of luck with him this year…and hope that you get to see the Nanny on a regular basis! 🙂

  2. I had that problem with a PARENT last year! Sweetest East Indian family with a precious little shy four year old, and Dad, in addition to being the nicest guy ever (helped w field trips all the time), was also Bollywood good-looking. Other teachers would routinely ask me when he came to pick up his son, “Who is THAT?”. Hahaha makes focus that much harder!

  3. I’m giving you the me-too sign. I’m always shocked when I have a student who has ZERO social coping skills. Especially now that I am raising my own toddler boy, I don’t see how you get through early childhood without addressing it. But, here they are, right in our classroom needing a ton of help. And always angry. These kids are always angry. I want to sympathize with parents who are stretched, who might not know, who didn’t grow up the way I did, but I can’t help be angry myself when their little one is dropped into my classroom like a ticking bomb.

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