Monday, October 5, 2015

Cowardly violence

"What did you learn at school today, Marina?"

"I learned to stay really quiet during a lockdown."

My daughter's elementary school held a lockdown drill on September 24th, in which students learned everything from locking doors and closing blinds to putting their feet up on the toilet seat if they're using the bathroom, so that no one will see them during a real lockdown.

"But the bathroom is not a safe place to be during a lockdown, Mama, because the bad guys can still crawl under the door and find you."

We're grateful that the school is proactive in these lessons, in the same way that they rehearse for fire drills, but we obviously hope that our children will never have to put any of these lessons to use.

Exactly two weeks after this drill, though,there was another school shooting in the US, this time at an Oregon college campus.

Populated areas like schools and campuses are such easy targets for gunmen, simply because there are a lot of people located in one area..... which makes their act of violence even more cowardly.

Given that both my husband and I work at local post-secondary campuses, it's vital that we, too,are prepared for the worst.

The below dramatization was put out for staff and students. And, frankly, I think this is a video that everyone should watch, regardless of their place of employment.

And while I think it's wonderful that these lessons are being put forth for school children and adults alike, it's still deplorable that nothing is being done to change gun legislation.

Birth control?
Gay marriage?
Look, banning things never works. People will find ways to get them.

(Posted on Twitter by Nick Martucci, August 4, 2015)

I'm not an expert on the legislation of firearms in North America, but I think it's become pretty clear that, if we continue to do nothing to prevent these acts of violence, then they will only continue.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Parenting fail

To paraphrase John Denver, some days are diamonds, while some days are stones.

And today was a great, big lump-of-coal-kind-of-day for us.

My husband and I are growing increasingly frustrated with our daughter's behaviour, both at home and at her music class. While her teachers at school and day care comment to us that her behaviour is exceptional with them, it's the complete opposite when she's with us.

Today was an abysmally horrible outing for her with my husband at music class, and we're both horrified by what transpired. And, because our daughter repeatedly shows no true remorse for her disrespectful behaviour, we had to come down hard on her today and not allow her to attend a friend's birthday party this afternoon.

And, with our punishment, came nothing but more drama and bad behaviour from our daughter.

To clarify some things here, this was not an easy decision for us. Not only did it punish our daughter, but it punished the birthday girl, too, as well as us parents who were actually looking forward to spending time with other adults.

In the end, nobody won, and everybody lost out today.

The thing with consequences for children is that there needs to be a natural consequence that fits the offence. For example, if a child refuses to do homework, then they fail the class. Or if they don't clean up their toys and something gets broken, then the natural consequence is that they can't play with that toy anymore.

We absolutely did not want to miss out on this party today, but we felt we had no other feasible option. Our reasoning was twofold:

1. Until our daughter can show us that she's capable of behaving properly at music class, then she shouldn't be allowed to go to other outings where her behaviour may come into question as well.

2. She wasted that entire hour of class today and, therefore, we needed to make up the lesson again somewhere today. Meaning that, while her friends were together and having fun at the party, she would be home repeating her music lesson.

All of this reasoning made sense to us at the time, but now my husband and I feel absolutely remorseful for not allowing her to attend the birthday party. We just don't feel like she learned anything from this, and instead we fear that she'll grow increasingly resentful of her weekly hour-long lessons.

Plus, the absolute devastation she felt when we told her she had to stay home completely broke us. Truly, our daughter lives for birthday parties with her friends, and she was an emotional wreck for the rest of the day at home.

The amount of guilt my husband and I feel over this is staggering. We wish we could have a do-over of the events that transpired after her class..... but, then again, we truly don't know what would have been a more appropriate consequence for her today.

This isn't the first time she's acted up during class. In fact, it's her usual behaviour when we go there, but it seems to be escalating each week. We've tried everything, and nothing has worked. (FYI - just having her quit going to music class is not an option, so we have to try something else.)

To be fair, she's not the only child who has difficulty making it through this class. There are only two other children with her, and each of them have had their moments. The teacher has conceded that the class is probably moving too slowly for these kids and that they're bored and can't sit still for the entire hour (or even a portion of it.....).

Maybe we can prevent this bad behaviour by adjusting the structure of the class, or even just switching to private (rather than group) lessons. And maybe she'd be better off if we, the parents, were not in attendance so that it could be just her and the teacher. I guess that's something we'll have to explore in coming weeks.

But the issue remains that we still need a better way of dealing with our daughter when she misbehaves like this right now.

I know I'm going to regret this, but I'm essentially here now asking the internet-world for parenting advice. I'm at my wits end, so come on and take your best shot at me.

What would you do if your five-year-old was repeatedly disruptive and disrespectful during class?

(I'll just be sitting here drowning my sorrows in some Girl Guide cookies while you guys tell me everything that I'm doing wrong as a parent.)