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Feb 6, 2008

On Tyler's terms


When I started the blog in lieu of our traditional newsletter, I vowed to continue individual updates on the kids and to post pictures of each of them at least weekly. It seems fitting to post a Tyler story today since he has the biggest news: I withdrew him from preschool. Oh, the turns life takes! I never imagined I would do such a thing -- or that Tyler would want it.

In early November, Tyler started being naughty at school. He was being mean to the other kids, not obeying the teacher, and being a general disruption to the class. I got negative reports from his teacher after every class for weeks, right up until Christmas break. I attributed the behavior to Gavin's birth, although it was obvious that Tyler didn't understand the connection. I expected that a break from school would do him some good, but when January came he started complaining about going to school every day. This behavior escalated to the point of major tantrums in the car and even a huge one on the last day of school before our Arizona trip two weeks ago. He just didn't want to go to school.

Yesterday was the worst day yet. Tyler hadn't been awake for ten minutes before the whining started. As we drove to school he started to cry, and that turned into yelling at me. Apparently I was a "mean mom" for making him go to school. I tried reasoning with him, tried talking to him about what was really bothering him, tried encouraging him that school was so much more fun than time at home. That just made things worse. I'm not usually one to back down or to let tantrums intimidate me, but I already felt so defeated as a parent that I started getting emotional myself. I had to physically drag Tyler into class. He was kicking and screaming at the top of his lungs. I was crying, too, and we made quite a spectacle. In the midst of such drama, it occurred to me that I ought to just eliminate this fight in my life.

I called Garry for reinforcement. He listened patiently as I blubbered through my description of our morning. We wondered aloud what had happened to our happy little boy. And then we decided to let Tyler choose whether to continue at preschool. I really hoped he wanted to quit.

But he didn't.

When I talked to Tyler (who, by the way, stopped crying about 30 seconds after I dropped him off and had a wonderful, marvelous, exciting, happy day) about quitting preschool, he said, "But Mom, I won't learn anything if I don't go to school!" He wanted to stay, and he agreed to be happy about going. Begrudgingly, I went along with his plan.

Today, however, Tyler started in on an early tirade about going to school tomorrow. I stopped what I was doing to have another heartfelt conversation. Together we agreed that Tyler is going to take a break from preschool for now. He will start again when Zach starts first grade in Colorado. And in the mean time, he'll get to play at home on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.

A few months ago, I would have viewed this situation in terms of how having Tyler at preschool or not impacted my free time. I know I will miss those hours twice a week when I am alone with Gavin, but right now I am so relieved to know that tomorrow morning at least one of my children will be happy! He'd better not change his mind...
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