Monday, September 20, 2010

Fear-Based Response

Today Mr. Keenan was led out of school by his teacher. Who was holding his hand. And making a beeline directly towards the Mister.

It seems that Keke told a little girl that he was going to take a scissors and cut her hair.

Several times.

Until she went running, scared and upset, to the teacher.

The Mister had the joy of
1) experiencing a Teacher-My Child Escort for the first time (I was subjected to it like a trillion times in 4-K. It's like the Mom Walk of Shame) and
2) knowing that he had to tell me about it when he got home which would suck because
1) he knew that he would not know all the details well enough to satisfy his need-to-know-minutiae wife and
2) he knew the likelihood of me gloating that it was finally his turn for the Dad Walk of Shame after I did it a trillion times was pretty high and
3) he knew I would not take it well.

Guess what?

I did not take it well.

My response was completely fear-based.

I hollered. I yelled. I fired off "Why" questions like I was a machine gun of some sort (can you tell I'm a pacifist? Because I couldn't name a type of gun if I tried unless it's a Smith Wesson and that's only because I read Patricia Cornwell.) I'm fairly sure my head spun 360 and I may or may not have foamed at the mouth.

Keenan looked at me, clipped up his chin, and turned around, refusing to answer.

This fueled my fear/fire. Because lately Keenan has been"edgy," first trying to circumvent rules or requests, and by this morning just flat out refusing to comply and/or throwing fits over having to do things like tuck his shirt in (okay, fine, don't tuck it in, but then everyone's going to see those Sponge Bob drawers, my dear son!) And by this morning's school drop-off time, I was frazzled.

It was an awesome feeling to start a Monday.

But back to that frazzled fear/fire escalation: we went from not listening and respecting house rules to Oh My Lord you threatened a small girl at school with scissors and unrequested haircuts to further disrespecting your Manmi and refusing to cooperate with anything!?!?!? I felt a tizzy coming upon myself.

In moments like these, I find myself nearly (okay, BIG time) panicking with daydreams of future scenarios. All of which involve police intervention, juvenile detention, and legal subjugation.

Now, I know in the grand scheme of thing, this situation is small potatoes. But these tiny little potato buds have been slowly growing. I'm trying to dig up those potatoes now so that we don't have to deal with Big Potatoes later.

Because right now, today, this 5-year old son of mine is tiny and adorable and has the cutest, sweetest, deepest dimple on the planet. Yet, someday (soon) he is going to be a pre-teen boy who is going to grow into a teen boy who is going to grow into a young man.

And, let's not ignore the fact that he's black.

Now, what do you think happens when a black teen boy threatening, unintentionally or not, a smaller scared girl with scissors?

Schools can:
a) call me
b) suspend his a$$
c) call the cops
d) all of the above

And it's a downward spiral from there.

A huge part of my fear is that I know this little boy. And Keenan, truly, I do not think there is any violence in his heart. He wanted to tease the little girl because he likes her. Which really isn't the smart thing to do, but it's a "kid" thing to do, and those are things are comfortable dealing with as a Mom. I don't feel a lot of fear over the teasing thing at all.

But I feel a LOT of fear at the thought of my little boy growing up, continuing these actions, and getting hauled off to Juvie because he can't understand what constitutes acceptable behavior.

Hence my freak out.

Once I calmed down, and took a step back from the situation, I felt instant remorse at my big, bad Mom Freak Out. I was able to calm down and talk to my boy. Both my boys, actually. I worked at connecting with them, making them feel like I'm your Mom and your family and I love you and got your back and am here to help when you make these bad choices.

In the end, the evening turned out pretty well. I think I connected with them and got my point across without freaking out. We had some fun being silly putting clothing away, and we read a new Berenstain Bear book (their favorites.)

But you can bet your bottom dollar I am gonna cry tonight because I feel like I totally botched this afternoon.

The Mister, however, does not feel that I botched this. Because, having been a minority male teen, he feels that our boys need to grow up knowing: Never Expect Anyone Anywhere to Ever Make An Exception. Not Never. Ever. Never.

They will be watched more.
They will be scrutinized more.
They will be suspected more.
They will be given fewer chances,
if any.

So to the Mister, we need to be work hard NOW to get it through to them that their wiggle room for mistakes like this once they are big?

Because, fair or not, it's best they get their wiggles out now while they are little and cute because their White Umbrella Manmi cannot protect them forever.

I'm not arguing with the Mister. Over the years, he's shared stories that break my heart. And it breaks my heart and makes me feel sick to my stomach to think that my precious little boys could experience the world in similar cruel ways.

And this is spot on where my fear is based because I cannot protect my beautiful boys from the cold, cruel and unfair world, and I am terrified that they are going to act in ways which the world is going to show how cruel it is and I'm not going to be able to do anything about it except watch.

I think he's right about what we need to teach them on many, many levels. Yet, I do think the best way to teach them this is through a love-based approach, and not the fear-based one I employed this afternoon.

But, man, I wish this leaning curve just wasn't


Me said...

1st-you are a great mama
2nd-we all mess up; we all have regrets; you'll do better next time
3rd-I would have reacted in the same way
4th-the things you said about black boys made me sad...because I know it's true and because I dread the day.
5th-it's hard to be a mama-to love these little people like we never knew we could love before.

Laurie said...

I am living your life. I did the walk of shame with my 5 year old on Friday. So not good....

geralyn said...

Join the club. I used to live that life almost everyday when Thomas was in public school. His rolly-polly first year out of college teacher used to almost break her chubby little ankles racing to the car to tell me every mis-deed Thomas had perpetrated during the school day.

I used to beg Marc to come home early enough to wait outside for the kids and watch Rolly Polly waddle to the car so that he could share in the fun of having that 'discussion' everyday in the parking lot. Everytime he picked the kids up, the teacher would look at him and go back inside. I thought very unkind things about Marc and how he escaped the wrath of Rolly Polly.

I absolutley do not miss that schoolyard walk o'shame now that we homeschool. :)