Autumn is upon us! In Bangkok, Fall doesn't have the same impact it had in the States. There are no orchards to visit for apple-picking. The leaves don't change and fall. The air doesn't get crisp or cooler. But that's all ok. I can survive without that for a few years. However, I was delighted to send my little boy to his first year of school (which began in August, but I still consider it an Autumn event.)
So, raise your hand if you thought you had done a fantastic job raising your kids, only to feel like a miserable failure by the shortcomings pointed out when they went to school? Nothing huge, but any criticism really gets magnified when it is regarding your children. I'm smarting a little bit lately from things that have been said, and have been working hard with my Bean to help him settle into school.
Problem 1: He's a storyteller.
So, it is clear that the Bean doesn't like to waste time re-hashing his day. Especially if that day contains some exploits of a nature that might get him reprimanded. So, a few weeks into school I felt completely in the dark. I didn't know who his friends were. I didn't know if he was learning anything. I didn't know if he was happy or not, because all I ever got from him was an "I don't remember." On his teacher's side, she had heard all sorts of crazy tales from him. That he NEVER went to preschool. (Three years) That he couldn't read or write. (LIAR) That he had an older sister. (Not that I am aware of) When I finally pieced together what was happening, I had to do something fast. Our communications needed to be improved.
The solution was to prepare for his return from school every day and separate him from all the kids that tend to be at our house in the afternoon (cool house, yayuh!). We sit down every single day with a small snack as soon as he steps off the bus, and he gets my undivided attention. No matter what. And I ask him specific questions, instead of open-ended ones that he can brush off with a yes or no. If he admits to being naughty, I don't punish him. We discuss it briefly, and then I ask him how he would do things differently next time. So far, this approach has helped him to open up a bit more and tell me about his day, except it is still peppered with fiction from time to time.
Problem 2: He likes to do things his own way.
Getting 20 kids to follow along in class is a feat that I could never accomplish in a million years-this is why it is so important for our educators to be knowledgeable and well-educated themselves. They know the tricks. I have much respect for that. So, to help his teacher, we are going to practice at home how to follow directions and learn that life is more rewarding if you focus on the task at hand and tackle it when you are asked to. Bean hasn't really been in trouble much, but I can tell from his teacher that he is one of the stronger or more challenging personalities in the class. And frankly, I raised him to be that way. Sorry, teach!
My solution was to draw this "Follow Directions!" board, where he can keep track with stickers each time he does something I ask him to immediately. So, instead of zoning out or whining that he has something HE wants to do, instead of what I have asked him to do, Bean snaps to it. Then is rewarded with a sticker, and down the road he gets to pick an activity when he completes the board. I'm just trying to give him an incentive for cooperating quickly, and hopefully he will try to please his teacher or parents in the future instead of railing against us for negative attention. Its a basic lesson, right?
Problem 3: I am so DONE with diapers.
So. Done.
And the little one is two. You don't need to hear about potty-training. I'm just going to say it must happen. Now. Not later.
Aaaaaand behold its another incentive board. Same story. Do the doody, get a sticker. End of story.
So its only a matter of time before my whole house has papers taped to the walls. The "I can put the toilet seat down" incentive board. The "I left my shoes at the door" board. The "Don't butt grownups in the crotch with your forehead" board. And for me, perhaps the "I didn't spend money on fabric today" board?

So, stay tuned for more of my drama, and some Bangkok adventures. There have been a few, but with the latest news surrounding a certain film, I had no desire to type or put my thoughts down. I was disturbed beyond words. The protests in Pakistan are horrific, and bring me back to terrible times not so long ago. I am deeply grateful to be in Bangkok now, and next post I will elaborate on why, and what I have learned about people in this city that makes me so stupidly happy. Until then, let me tell you our helper introduced me to these snacks called "mieng kham" and its my favorite thai snack eVER. You take this leaf and wrap it around toasted coconut, lime, ginger, peanuts and dried shrimp. It is so silly sweet good I ask her to pick me up a pack whenever she's over by the marketplace.


momsky said...

in the end, you will be happy that he is so imaginative and independent. you went thru a phase in school where you spelled everything backwards. much to the chagrin of your teachers. I was exasperated but impressed.

Becky said...

I love the backward spelling. That's just awesome. (The charts all over the house made me smile too. That seems to be the norm at our house all the time too. Printing out a new chore chart this morning. I hope it works well for you!)

jen said...

reward charts are such a great thing - funny how it gets them so motivated! good luck with both - and especially that potty training! snack sounds super yummy ... but dried shrimp? is it good?