Tuesday, July 28, 2009

There Was a Little Girl Who Had a Little Curl....

...right in the middle of her forehead. When she was good she was very, very good. But when she was bad she was horrid.

I don't know who wrote that poem, but he must have been writing about his three year old daughter. Perhaps even my three year old daughter, though that seems unlikely since I think that poem is pretty old. Still, the similarities are striking.

Back in February, I wrote this post about Punkin's tantrums at school and her lack of interest in playing with other children. At the time, I took a very laissez-faire attitude about the whole thing. She's self sufficient. She's spirited. But as the days and weeks wore on, I began to be a little more concerned. Mostly that was because every day when I would pick up Punkin from school, I would get a report, a bad report. A report detailing every transgression.

It seemed that Punkin was still not participating in group activities, and when pressed or asked to do something she didn't want to do, she'd melt down. One day another teacher even had to be called in to help calm her down. I was mortified, to be honest. And confused. She still had tantrums at home occasionally, but overall her behavior had improved. Her teacher asked me what we should do and I told her what I was doing at home: saying no only when I meant it, trying to let her do as much for herself as possible, letting her make some choices, putting her in time out for her transgressions. But apparently time-out wasn't working at school and they kept asking me what they should do.

And every day the report would come in. And every day I felt like I had an ax hanging over my head, waiting to find out what she'd done wrong that day. In the school's defense, I think they were giving me these reports because I'd asked for feedback and we were supposedly acting in concert to help solve this problem, but frankly, it was wearing. Heck, wearing? It was freakin' exhausting. And demoralizing. A lovely combo.

At the same time, I also found out that there was a little girl who was leading a "Let's hate Punkin'" gang on the playground. Yes, she actually used the word "hate." A three year old! They started out with "Let's not play with Punkin" but it somehow progressed to hate. I discussed it with the teachers and they were horrified, but because it always happened on the playground they were never able to hear her say it. I debated saying something to the little girl's parents because I knew them and I knew they would be mortified if they knew their daughter was saying such things. But I didn't. I couldn't bring myself to do it in part because there was a tiny part of me that wondered if she really had said it. I couldn't wrap my brain around the pure meanness of such behavior and I sometimes wondered if Punkin was making it up. But why would she? And where would she have heard such a thing unless it was said to her?
I've never actively disliked a child (okay, rarely have I actively disliked a child), but I have to be honest that whenever I saw this little girl on the playground I actually felt angry.

But the real reason that I didn't say anything to her parents was because I had already decided that we needed to change schools. And so we did.

And miraculously Punkin was healed and all our problems were solved! Riiiight. Not so much. But the rest of the story, my friends, will have to wait until tomorrow.


AndreAnna said...

I think parents who survive the Threes of Little Girls without at least 200 drunken nights should be given a Peace Prize.

ImpostorMom said...

OMG that is awful. I mean I know kids are mean but god I had no idea it started so early.

Kris said...

I read that poem to my 4yr old girl all the time because; well...it's true. Lucky for me she does very well at school it's at home that she's horrible.

I found your blog through Calicobebop. Love it

calicobebop said...

Children and vicious and little girls especially. Muffin would come home many days and tell me that so-and-so said she didn't want to be friends with her and wouldn't play with her. I think it's a power thing - who knows.

Sorry to hear about Punkin's troubles!

Burgh Baby said...

See that? That is why I have NOT moved Alexis to another school. Despite the fact that the teachers make me nuts most days, she's thriving there. Apparently it takes all kinds to keep a kid balanced. Or something.

Kelsi said...

Why they call them terrible twos I'll never know, because three, four and five are wayyyyy more trying! I hope the school change helped. I've not figured out if the "cliques' of preschool are innate or learned behaviors.

Katie in MA said...

Oh dear. I am behind in my reading and the rest of the story is already posted, so I'm gonna go read that but I have to say: whatever you decided to do was absolutely the right thing. (And I think changing schools was a good start.)

Wineplz said...

I agree, the laundry list of transgressions is overwhelming and exhausting. We started to get those with Gavin (I think partly because the daycare just couldn't figure out why he was so difficult, etc.) for a while before we finally realized/recognized his verbal and auditory delays. Once we shared that info w/his daycare, we all started working at different tactics for dealing with him. It seemed to help. Thankfully (or not?...uh, I think you know what I mean), this doesn't sound necessarily like Punkin's situation.