Rules. There are so many of them. Especially when parenting. Not only are there rules you have to teach your child, there are you also rules you as a parent are to adhere to. Some are easier to apply to yourself than others. I find the hardest rule this one: never publically express your true concerns about your child. Honesty as a parent is – apparently – not necessarily a virtue.
Here’s how it works:
Teacher says, “your son is such a happy kid. So fun and always smiling.”
“Really?” you exclaim, and your surprise comes out a little too uncensored. The teacher has heard it and looks at you. So you laugh and say, “well, you know. He can be a bit of a handful at home.”You quickly add, “I mean, all kids are right? Haha.” Ha.
Two weeks later you find you son moody and tired. He is even low, disheartened. You have never seen him that way. Did something happen at school, you wonder. With the other kids? It takes a lot of coercing to finally hear your four-year-old say, “I had to stand by the door, mum.”
Which means what? Stand by the door?
So the next day you ask the teacher, “what’s up with the – you know – ‘standing by the door’ thing?” You hardly dare ask, “is it a punishment of some sort?” You are still smiling, desperately casually.
The teacher says, “yes, and I’ve put him there before. For example when he doesn’t listen.”
Your heart sinks. Your son is four years old. He has only just started school. In your mind’s eye you can literally see him standing there, by the door, alone. You know what his expression must be. See, because only you know what many people don’t know: that he means so well and is often misunderstood.
Did I ever stand by a door in primary school? Once yes, I was made to sit in a corner with a dunce hat on my head, my back to the class. This is no joke. But I was 10. And this was at a girl’s school in London. We wore uniforms.
But you keep smiling and your heart drops even further when the teacher – in turn casually – adds, “but didn’t you mention he can be a handful?”