Thursday, September 4, 2008

Unlearning

We’ve been going through a detoxification period here for the past few days. Marcus spent some time around other kids recently, and he’s paying the price of having learned a few of their tricks.

My sweet little boy, my boy who thought the old lady down the street who sold her house had “turned into” our new younger neighbor; my innocent little child who mistook the word barricade for bear cave, and was trying to stop traffic with bears… My little son told me the other day, when I offered to help with potty functions, that I was the one who needed help—and he told me this in a very rude tone.

My little boy. Where did that come from?

And there were more events, more rudenesses, a mention of killing, a couple of tantrums when we haven’t had those for quite some time. He even stomped his feet! Repeatedly! OBNOXIOUS! I couldn’t make heads or tails of it at first. And then we realized what had happened: Exposure to other children who don’t behave.

I am seriously rethinking the preschool that begins next week. Is this sort of detox what will result? Will I be unteaching my sweet child all of those horrible lessons gleaned from precocious brats? I know socialization is important, but by golly, he’ll see other kids at church a couple times a week. And yeah, I was looking forward to a little bit of “me” time—but not if it will cost me the efforts I’ve been making for over 3 years now! What is me time worth if the price is losing my child to the world?

I know every kid is bratty sometimes. And I know, truly, it’s often not the kid’s fault. I was a teacher long ago—I remember how many times the troublemaker made absolute sense to me after meeting his or her parents and/or talking about home life. I know that huge numbers of children in this country suffer from benign neglect and over-abundance; instilling courtesy and respect and healthy doses of fear is time- and labor-intensive. It really is easier to raise brats, to give them too much to compensate for time not invested, for attention not granted; it is honestly simpler in the short run to park the kids in front of the TV regardless of what’s on. But my husband and I have tried to go a different route, and now I fear we’ll be steered onto that wide, undisciplined road of “everybody’s doing it” because we won’t be able to escape it. It’s such a big road, with a strange magnetic force that pulls children onto its surface. I can see through most of the lies and filth that the road prominently markets, but my child can’t. He’ll just soak it all up, and bring it home, and spew it inside our walls.

It’s downright depressing. And it’s not going to get any better. If we’re successful in our house, then unlearning will become a constant and lifelong process, just as it is for us adults. And if we fail? That big, wide road gets a wee bit more crowded.

6 comments:

71crush said...

No no no do NOT rethinkg the preschool. YOu cant protect him forever and its actually good for kids to mingle with other kids. Dont be a helicopter mom. :)
I do hate it, tho. Wait til he rides the bus!! blah Its a good opportunity to point out that just b/c other kids act that way doesnt mean he does, etc.

chris h. said...

I've heard the same sentiments from other parents, and seen it in my own nieces & nephews. Once daycare or preschool comes along, so do pop, cookies, action figures, cartoons, smart mouths, bad words, "cool" clothes, and all those other habits they'd diligently kept their kids from. It seems inevitable, doesn't it. I think you're right about the unlearning and the constant lessons on "this is how WE behave..." That's why being a good parent is so hard -- and so important! You go, girl.

Mel said...

okay, okay--I won't withdraw him from preschool, nor will I relent in my attempts to be the counterculture behavior-wise. but man, it is discouraging. thanks for the positive spin ("this is what's proper and it will be our standard...")

Athelas63 said...

Well.... I hardly think other children are completely to blame. We are all selfish in nature to a greater or lesser extent. Even if the boy were left to himself, there would surely come a day when he said and/or did something rude or selfish. It's the nature of the beast.

Facie :-) said...

All you can do is continue to reinforce good behavior and point out what is unacceptable. You cannot keep your kid at home forever, and if he does not pick up bad behavior at school, he will see it at the grocery store, at the park, walking down the street, listening to the radio while you are in the car for five minutes, etc.

The things that we have told Jordan over and over seem to have stuck. But things we have let go or never even considered have been a problem. Who knew that kids her age and younger would talk about who is prettier or that someone has an ugly shirt?

If you are sending Marcus to a good preschool, hopefully you will have very little behavior problems. The structure helps to teach kids to listen, get along with others, not talk out of turn, etc.

Good luck.

Mel said...

more good comments--thanks. it definitely is the nature of the human beast to be jerky, eventually if not right away. and we'll see about the preschool--it has been great on our visits, but you just never know...