The countdown is on! As of the morning that this issue hits the stands, my kids have seven days of school left. When I was in school, I always referred to it as the “why assign any schoolwork days.” I mean, we’re almost done right? The last couple of weeks should just be easy, coast-through days. That was my genius logic as a kid.
Now that I’m older, my thought during these last weeks before summer break is always: “Why didn’t I become a teacher?” Which, now given my semi-unemployed/self-employed status, becoming a teacher could be an option as I am currently entertaining the idea of returning to school.
I find myself getting really excited about summer break this year. With each passing day, I get almost as excited as the kids for that last day of school. There are many reasons for this. I plan on kicking off their summer vacay with a trip to the beach. I also am looking forward to many day trips to Six Flags, Stone Mountain, Riverbanks Zoo, perhaps some educational trips among many others. Then, of course, there will be many days lounging by the pool as the kids play since I have my days off now.
All those things are exciting. But I think I’m more excited about not having to figure out the “bear system” in No. 4’s send-home folder any more. Like many kindergarteners, his teacher sends home a behavior report each day. The way they chart the behavior is by coloring their daily bear green, yellow or red. Obviously green means he had a good day. Yellow means he had trouble listening, following directions or whatever. Red means bad. Red means they got reminded a few times to mind their behavior but the kid wasn’t having it.
Now I give teachers tons of credit for what they do. They have to keep up with quite a few kids with all kinds of different needs and temperaments, especially the younger kids. But sometimes I just don’t get the bear system.
At the beginning of the year, the wife and I were devastated when No. 4 came home with a red bear. Like, “Oh no! We have THAT kid! The problem child of the class! Whatever do we do?” The answer to that was usually some sort of punishment: No TV or games, time outs or just taking away whatever his favorite toy was at the time. However, as the year passed along, the red bears would still come. Sometimes yellow bears and, yes, sometimes green bears. We made a huge deal about green bears: high-fives, rewards, etc.
The confusion comes in with the reasons he gets the red bears. Most times it’s the usual stuff you expect a 5-year-old to do: talking in the line, playing during nap time and picking up sticks. Wait, what? Picking up sticks? I could understand if he were throwing the sticks or poking other kids with the sticks after picking them up. After the winter we’ve had, the kid’s been picking up sticks in our yard since February! Hell, we encourage it! So I guess it’s our fault.
That was the red bear that made me realize that maybe the red bears aren’t quite the cause for panic that we previously thought. But, bottom line: if the teacher says don’t pick up sticks, then you don’t pick up sticks. We let him know that and I’m happy to say we have had no stick incidents since.
Now with the end of the year looming, I’ve been spending a lot of time at the school. Field days, lunches and presentations (No. 2 made the honors program at his middle school! YES!). On a few of these visits I’ve noticed that No. 4 seems to be fairly well behaved. Often much better behaved than some of the other kids. My first thought is that he’s behaving because he knows I’m there. Then I think about how he sometimes behaves around the house, so that’s definitely not the case. I know my sample time is small, but all I really see is a kid acting like a 5-year-old.
I am by no means saying his teacher is wrong. In fact, there are times at home when I feel like wringing his neck. I do like knowing his behavior for the day. But if the little incidents of being an excitable 5-year-old are the reasons for the red bears, I guess I’m okay with that as long as he’s not being blatantly disrespectful.
But thankfully, the days of figuring out which red bears are punishable offenses and which to let slide are ticking away. Seven days and counting…