Sunday, September 30, 2007

Wild child

My thoughts have been preoccupied with Sage lately. Namely, how he's doing in kindergarten. Every day I drop him off I pray that he will be good but every day when I pick him up I hear that he was "hyper," or "wild" or "all over the place." Yep, I think, that's Sage. That's pretty much how he's always been.

He stopped taking naps when he was about 12 months old. For a while I tried to institute "quiet time" where he would stay in his room and "rest." Sage does not rest. Instead he would throw all his stuffed animals on the floor and "swim" in them. Sometimes he would read books. By "read" I mean he would take every single book off the bookshelf, study the pictures for a while, dissect the pop-up books, then use them as "skates" and go "book skating" across the carpet. Sometimes he would stack them and use them as steps and climb the furniture.

He's five now and and he's still as hyper as ever. Every morning he wakes up around 7:00 and comes in our room. If I'm lucky, he'll crawl in bed beside me and snuggle for a minute or two, which is nice, until I get accidentally kneed in the gut or elbowed in the boob. Usually though he's yelling, "Breakfast! I want breakfast please! I said PLEASE! Oatmeal. I want oatmeal. No. Waffles. I want waffles. How 'bout oatmeal and waffles? Does that sound good? Mom, wake up! I want breakfast!"

And for the rest of the day the kid does not shut up. If he's watching a cartoon he will narrate it for you. If we're at the store he will comment on every. single. item. that catches his eye. Loudly, mind you. If he's playing with toys he will have an entire dialog going among his characters, all in their own goofy voices acting out some wild scenario where eventually everyone "gets dead." If left to his own devices with no toys or t.v., he'll invent some elaborate story where he's a pirate or a secret agent or a superhero, usually recruiting Kali to be his sidekick and making me and Erik the bad guys.

The kid barrels through life nonstop. He goes to bed at 8:30, yet comes out of his room 5 or 6 times during the night with a new excuse every time. "I'm thirsty" or "I have to pee" or "I want to go to Disneyland" or "I lost my sticker that I got in school because it fell in the dirt and I tried to wash it off but it got all soggy so I put it in my pocket but now I think it's gooonnne!". . . cue dramatic tears.

Yeah, he's a handful, but he's also pretty hilarious sometimes. And he can be incredibly sweet too. Some would say his behavior is typical for a 5 year old boy. Some would say he's the extreme. On the second day of kindergarten his teacher told me she thought he was eating too much sugar because he was acting "wild" in the afternoons (I checked, he hadn't eaten anything sugary at all). Since then, every day when I go to pick him up I pray to hear that he was "good." But every day I hear stuff like "he won't sit on the carpet during story time" or "he squirms all over his seat during table time" or "he was climbing a pole during snack time" or scenarios like this:

They have a program called PeaceBuilders where they all pledge to care for one another and they sing a song. Sage HATES the song. He says it's "creepy" and it makes him "feel weird." When they sing it he covers his ears and shakes his head violently and yells, "I don't want to be a PeaceBuilder!" What the hell? The teachers must think his parents are war mongering Republicans or something.

Suddenly, I'm the mom of that kid. I was a teacher for 6 years and it's strange for me to be on this side of the parent/teacher dynamic. I know that type of kid. The one that requires more energy and attention than all the others. The one the teachers roll their eyes over in the teachers lounge. The one the parents whisper about. The one the kids love to laugh at but then easily turn against and tattle on. If this is what it's like his first month of kindergarten, what will it be like when he's a teenager?

I'd be worried if not for the fact that he's actually pretty good at home. I'd chalk it up to some weird response to having a new sibling in the house, but he's so loving toward McKenna I just don't see it. Plus, she's so easy-going that very little attention has been diverted from him. I thought maybe it was his low blood sugar acting up so I tweaked his diet and removed anything artificial or processed. Nothing. He's still wild after carrots and hardboiled eggs.

I guess I'm just looking for anything other than my parenting as the cause for his inability to hack it in the real world. Did I pay too much attention to him, or not enough? Did I buy him too many treats? Let him stay up past nine too many times? Do I encourage his creativity too much? Not enough?

Maybe it's hereditary. My mom tells me she spent a few afternoons in the principal's office because of my brother. Erik says his elementary years were similar - teachers had him pegged as a "bad" kid and the label followed him into subsequent classrooms. And just like Sage, he could never see what he was doing that was so wrong.

Sage is most definitely not a bad kid. Even his teacher would say that he's not malicious in his behavior, just hyper. If you ask him, he'll tell you that he loves kindergarten. At Back to School night the kids ran up to him and said hi, so I don't think he's annoying them too much. I guess I'll see. I've been asked to observe him in class on Monday, it's that bad. Sage, of course, is very excited about this. Wonderful.


lisa {milkshake} said...

Oh, KB, I feel for you. He sounds like he's loving life! Why is that bad in some people's eyes? Why does every kid have to go along with the program? Maybe the teachers need to change their way of dealing with him instead of trying to change HIM.

Have you read anything about temperament? It's really helpful to read and know that it's nothing you're doing and that it's just who he is!

KB said...

Yeah, I know, you're right. I go back and forth between being proud that he's a non-conformist and just wishing he would behave like all the other kids. Maybe all this means he's destined for greatness.

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