I’m sure you’ve all heard the advice, “Kids need structure”. I figured it was true but hadn’t seen it first hand until this past week. My son, overall, is a “good” kid. He listens, has good manners, and is very caring….but something happened this summer. He started acting out at school and at home. He would kick us for no reason, or yell at us when we told him to do something. He’d yell, “You’re not my friend!” This is totally out of character for him. I understand that all kids go through phases. As a matter of fact, when I found out I was pregnant an older friend of mine told me something I will never forget, “I’ve always loved my kids, but there were certain stages or ages that I didn’t like them.” I thought maybe this was one of those stages. Terrible two had nothing on the “threenager phase”. While this maybe true, every time I asked his teachers about a new less than favorable behavior, they would inform me of a “bad seed” in the class that was rubbing off on all of the kids…Aiden included.
During the summer, Aiden’s preschool is more like a summer camp. It’s not very structured, not really a classroom setting and all of the older kids that are out of school for the summer are there. All of the kids are allowed to interact together at a few times in the day. As you can imagine, the little ones enjoy following the older kids around and mimicking everything they do. From the gross humor of fart jokes and talking about poop to rough housing and play fighting. He picked up all of it. He even punched his so-called best friend in the nose. Can you believe that? (Between you and me, I sort of blame daddy for that one. He decided to introduce him to Power Rangers and X-Men.) I was starting to get really worried but then something miraculous happened.
The first day of VPK3 came and Aiden accidently got a lot of sleep the night before. I say accidently because that is an area that we seriously slack on. We are kind of selfish when it comes to bed time. We allow him to lay in our bed and watch cartoons to fall asleep so that we can actually hang out together. Night time is the only time we get to spend quality time together. We can cuddle on the couch, drink a glass of wine, and watch a movie that isn’t animated. Like I said, selfish. Because of this, he just kind of falls asleep when he wants. We are going to work on it. I digress. For whatever reason, Aiden did not take a nap on Sunday and fell asleep at 7pm. He woke up Monday morning at 6am, a half an hour before he had to, on his own and definitely got up on the right side of the bed!
He got dressed without fuss. This is a rarity in our house. My threenager likes to decide what does and doesn’t match and changes his clothes four times (just like his daddy). And usually, when it’s time to leave and tell Aiden to put his shoes on, he throws a fit and says that he has to play with his toys more. But this day? This day when I told him it was time to go he lined up his Transformers and said ” I’m going to leave them right here so they’ll be here when I get home from school”. You could of knocked me over with a feather. In the car on the way to daycare, out of nowhere, he says “I love these mornings!” He marched into daycare and said, “Good morning, Ms. Linda!” His teacher was just as surprised as me. He’s usually a grumpy Gus in the mornings. I’ve come to realize this is because of the lack of sleep he gets. Again, we’re working on it.
That morning was great but I didn’t expect it to last. I figured as soon as he got around the older kids and the bad seeds the bad behavior would come back. I had totally forgotten that the big kids would be back in school. This means Aiden is “back to school” which is hard to get because it is preschool after all. He is now in a class of five kid, he has assignments, has to pay attention to the teacher, and answer questions. There is a lot to keep his attention and let me tell you, it has made a world of difference. I didn’t realize just how important structure was until this past week. And guess what, we have had good reports from school everyday! He came home one day and wrapped his arms around me and said, “I missed you today, mommy. Did you miss me?” I’m telling you, night and day! Now to continue a better night time routine and get him asleep at a reasonable time.
Side note: Aiden went to the doctor’s for his three year old well check up (two months late). He was very well behaved and used good manners with everyone. The nurse came in and told him that she was going to put something on his arm that was going to give him a big hug. Aiden asked, “Are you going to take my blood pressure?” The nurse was surprised and said to me, “Someone watches Doc McStuffins”. Actually, no he doesn’t. He has spent a few nights in the ER with his accident-prone daddy and picked up a few things. Clearly, he’s going to be a doctor.