Thursday, September 24, 2009

Why Are You Leaving Me Daddy?

It is a common occurrence in the elementary years of schooling that kids will yo-yo up and down between loving school and hating it. On the upside this means, that kids will hardly look at their parents as they run for the doorway to school. On the downside, this means that you literally have to throw your child into the room, and slam the door to get them to stay. In a cruel twist of fate, yours truly, the former elementary teacher who was good at calming anxious parents who had to throw their kids in the classroom and run, now is on the other side of the coin. Little man has gone from pestering Mom and Dad about school from the moment he wakes up to being content sitting in front of the TV watching Elmo all morning. So as I've walked back to my car this week after dropping off my son, it's been hard not to turn around and go pick him up in my arms as I hear him crying. Even harder not to go back into the room and take him home as I see him standing at the window looking at "Daddy's Car" wondering "Why are you leaving me Daddy?" I empathized with parents before, but now it really hits home how difficult it is to go with what is "right" when your natural parental instinct tells you something totally different.

So as I've been trained to do now, I look to the written word for help, and thankfully I have an autographed copy of Stickin' To, Watchin Over, and Gettin With, by Howard Stevenson, Gwendolyn Davis, and Saburah Abdul-Kabir, to refer to. The title refers to the three ingredients of effective discipline that the authors recommend for effective parenting of black children. I knew when Dr. Stevenson signed my copy in 2003 that it would come in handy, and this week was cause to pull the book off the shelf and seek some guidance. As the authors describe it Stickin To refers to "unconditional love and support", Watchin Over means to provide "loving supervision", and Gettin' With means to hold children accountable for their behavior without breaking their spirit. I was relieved as I read to find that the plan the Mrs. and I have intiuitively hatched to deal with our little knucklehead match with what the "Doc" and his coauthors have recommended.
So as this week has gone on. I made it a point to stop in a couple times to day care during nap time to see how the day was going, just in case Little Man needed some extra watchin over. The amount of unconditional love he gets from his nuclear and extended family is endless, especially since he is the first grandson on both sides of the family, but this week he clearly needed a little more reassurance. So for now, I let him know that Mommy and I will be Stickin To him like we're siamese twins, and we'll be Watchin Over every move. We'll also continue to let him know that as he gets older, we're more than ready to Get With him to the level necessary. A week that started out with me watching my son crying in the window ended with reports of much more positive behavior. So while he may have moments when he's wondering why Daddy or Mommy is leaving, in the long run, he'll come to understand that neither I nor Mommy are going anywhere. That's what makes it possible to walk to the car while he's crying in the window.

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