Tuesday, February 24, 2009

trouble with a lower case "t"

(Car accident update: after some digging around, I've concluded it's unlikely anyone was seriously injured in that accident because I can find things about other accidents that night, but nothing is written about the one I saw.)

So here's a picture of Harper imitating Alex the Lion from the Madagascar movies...

She does look like a bit of a trouble-maker, no?

Well it finally happened, yesterday Harper got in trouble at school.

I knew something wasn't right when I picked her up because she wouldn't talk to me and she did not say her day was "great," as she usually does. We were driving home and I told her I feel worried when something is wrong and she won't tell me what it is. She finally said that her feelings got hurt but was clear that she didn't want to talk about it.

Then she said, "Mom of all the days of past school I have had in both of my schools, today was different, there was never a day like today. When I get home I want to go to my room and have some self-time to think about things. Then maybe I will tell you about it."

Now as she is saying this I am simultaneously fighting back tears and laughter, because she is so serious about it. On the one hand, my heart is breaking because obviously something has really upset her. On the other hand, I am trying not to laugh because OH. MY. GOODNESS. Could she be any more dramatic? I just need some self-time? Who is this child?

Harper did go to her room for a few minutes when we got home. Then she slunk out, and climbed up on my lap, and said she didn't want to tell me what happened because I might be angry. I promised not to get angry and told her I would just like to talk about what was bothering her.

Apparently Harper's teacher saw her kick a book and sent her to sit by herself at a table until she was ready to behave. Which, in the context of a preschool class, is not a huge transgression or an especially embarrassing/difficult to handle punishment. I mean, obviously I don't want her going around kicking books and getting time-outs, but I think an isolated incident of misbehavior is normal. Harper says that someone else threw the book on the floor and she just wasn't paying attention and kicked it on accident. Which I find to be an equally suspicious and plausible explanation.

Rather than debating whether or not it was a purposeful action, we talked about having to take responsibility for what we do, even when we do something wrong accidentally. Harper was still clearly very upset, and embarrassed I think, about the whole incident - I asked if she wanted me to help her write an apology note to her teacher.

Harper liked the idea so we talked about what she wanted to say, I wrote it down, and she copied it (which took FOREVER):

The note says:

Dear Miss H-,
I am sorry for kicking the book. I will pay attention next time.
Love, Harper

Underneath her note she drew a picture of her teacher and also wrote the word book again. Please note it has all the elements of a thorough apology: addressing the person you've wronged, saying what you are sorry for, and telling what you'll do differently in the future. Never too young to learn!

I want it to be clear that I didn't make her do this as part of a punishment (seriously, the poor girl was punishing herself enough!), but I genuinely thought it would help her feel better, which it did. That note is, however, exactly the sort of thing I would do as part of the consequence for a more significant transgression at school.

For the record, the teacher didn't even mention the book-kicking to me. There was no school today because of a teachers' meeting, so her teacher will probably be surprised when Harper shows up with the apology note tomorrow. I'm sure she hasn't thought about the book-kicking nearly as much as Harper has!


Giselle said...

Cut from the same cloth. That's Harper and Andrew. Andrew FRETTED at a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese because kids were touching the animatronic characters and he thought he might get in trouble if he did the same. He has yet to get in trouble because of this cautious nature...but I imagine when he does (for kicking a book seems about right)...it will cause an outpouring of dramatics.

Way to go dealing with it! Sometimes it is so hard not to laugh at their seriousness. ;) Training for the teenage years?

Mommy Daisy said...

Aww, she is so sensitive. I'm glad that she felt better after writing the note though, great idea Kelsey. (You're good!) I was very sensitive like that as a child (still am a little). If I so much as got scolded, I was heart-broken. So I can understand how she's feeling. Hope she doesn't have to deal with that again.

Swistle said...

This entire thing is SO CUTE. I love her note and her picture.

Hillary or Ryan said...

I love this story. And I love how you dealt with it. I can remember my parents not punishing me b/c I was so successful in punishing myself. I sobbed after earning a D+ in high school geometry. And the phrase, "self-time"...very amusing. :)

Liz said...

Oh my gosh, I agree, SO CUTE! And you are so amazingly wonderful at handling all these little "situations", even if it isn't much of a situation. Suggesting writing an apology is brilliant. I, too, was/is a sensitive child/adult and I always was so afraid that when/if I did something wrong or got in trouble that the person would hate me forever. I had a healthy fear/respect for authority. :)

Laura said...

Poor Sweet Girl! The whole story is just cute. I think that my heart is breaking a little bit for Harper. She is so responsible and so sensitive; I'm sure that her teacher was never aware of how much she would internalize the situation as a whole. I'm glad that Harper was able to unload her feelings with her note and some quality self-time. Everyone needs that once in a while. Even 4 year olds.

BTW: her writing is incredible!

bluedaisy said...

This is such a sweet story and I think it is great that you didn't undermind Harper's feelings and at the same time, taught her a great way to work through them. I am filing this idea away because I know I will need it one of these days!

Anonymous said...

Well she obviously takes after her mother and not her aunt!!! I think that you handled it very well. She is such a cutie!!!

Auntie Shannon

Astarte said...

Patrick gets humiliated easily, too. Poor Harper! She's just as sweet as can be.