After dinner, the Linguist came into the kitchen as I was doing dishes. She sat herself down on the step stool.
“I can’t believe I’m telling you this, Daddy, but today I got into trouble at school.”
I put down my soapy dish. the Linguist has never gotten into trouble at school before.
“Tell me what happened.”
“Well, I got into trouble, I was pretending to be a baby, and going where I wasn’t supposed to, and touching things that I know I’m not supposed to touch. And I was playing with my friend and she got into a little trouble, but I got into more trouble.”
“Did you get into trouble for not stopping, getting carried away?”
“Yeah, it was hard for me to stop.”
“So what was your consequence? What happened?”
“Well, it was home time, and so the teacher didn’t have a chance to give me a punishment, but she said she had already given me ‘the look’, so…” At this, the Linguist narrowed her eyes and made a kind of closing gesture with her fingers, touching her thumb to her fingers.
“Hmm. OK. I’m glad you told me. I’m going to talk to Mommy about it later.”
And then she left.
I suppose I’m grateful that getting into ‘trouble’ at school consisted of getting carried away with play and not stopping when the teacher asked. It could have been something worse. Another part of me is amazed that it hasn’t happened before now, because this particular problem has been a source of friction for us at home for quite some time.
I have no tips, or sage advice. Just trying to practice a lot of patience and working on not getting carried away myself. We’re giving lots of advance warning when transitions are about to occur, helping her work on planning activities so that she’ll be finished or able to pause the activity when she has to come to dinner, for example.
Mainly I wonder if I’m being too hard on her. It is possible to get into a full blown heels digging in – stubborn defiance – screaming – crying argument with her, and even when my tone is measured and even (I think, anyway) she might react to being corrected with the aforementioned behaviour.
I am reminded of a couple of verses from the Bible in situations like this. “Thou shall not kill…” Just kidding!
Fathers, don’t aggravate your children. If you do, they will become discouraged and quit trying. – Colossians 3:21, NLT
The word “aggravate” is the Greek word erethizo, meaning “to stir up, provoke, arouse; embitter, provoke, irritate.” I hope that my strictness and discipline are not of the aggravating kind, leading to discouragement and losing heart. Being overly punitive, or overreacting to misbehaviour are surefire ways to aggravate the Linguist, so I have to watch myself for these things. And one major thing which really aggravates the Linguist is when I cut her off while she’s trying to explain her reasons for her behaviour. I tend to think “She’s just making excuses,” while she’s trying to express her thoughts and work through her emotions verbally. I should learn, as most men should, when I need to just shut up and listen 😐
Boys, you can break
You’ll find out how much they can take
Boys will be strong
And boys soldier on
But boys would be gone without warmth from
A woman’s good, good heart
Fathers be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers be good to your daughters too
– John Mayer “Daughters”