Last week, Gabriel and I had a trying time one day after school. I directed him to his homework like we always do. I was pretty sure it would be fast and sweet because it was math. He is doing math all the time right now in his head. Unfortunately, it was one of those work sheets with 4 possible answers that went with a colour code to create a picture with the spaces that individual math problems resided in. He decided that if he just coloured in the corresponding space with it's colour he didn't need to actually write the answers.
Truthfully, my little lawyer was right the only directions on the page were to colour in the spaces with the designated colours, but I know that one of the school districts big goals this year is to improve everyone's handwriting. Writing the numbers was definitely part of the assignment.
"Gabriel, you did great, you only need to write the numbers down." I leaned down and pointed to the empty spaces beneath the problems coloured in the correct colours.
He glared "No, it doesn't say that. I'm not going to do that. It just says to colour the spaces."
"Please, write the answers." I stood and walked over to Hannah and moved a toy for her to chase.
"I'm done, can A and D come over to play now. "(A and D are neighbourhood friends)
"No, you need to finish your homework."
He started screaming. The type of screaming a inconsolable three year old does in a tantrum. I remembered these. To top it off he was demanding that his friends would be invited over.
I was annoyed. I yelled back in a stern voice he rarely hears from mommy. "YOU NEED TO FINISH YOUR HOMEWORK! YOU NEED TO STOP TALKING TO ME THIS WAY!"
He broke down into tears that I had scared him. I knelt down next to him. "Gabriel, this doesn't need to be difficult. In the time you have been complaining about this you could of wrote all the answers down."
"Your mean mommy! Your no fun!"
I sighed and sat back on my haunches "Fun, Gabriel, that really isn't my job. My job is to make sure you grow up with all the skills you need to succeed."
"But mom, it's boring."
I smiled "I know kiddo. Do you think I find laundry fun? Do you think I find cleaning done? No, not really I don't, but it has to get done. We all have things we have to do that we don't enjoy, the trick is to get them done and move on to what we want to do."
He wasn't buying it and started screaming at me in frustration. I told him that his friends were not coming over and he needed to go to his room till he gained control of himself. He argued but went.
I called his friend's mom to let them know that his invitation before he got home would not come to pass.
When he calmed down I directed him to his homework. When that was done I directed him to the couch next to me. "Let's talk." His behaviour had to have other catalyst then me I was sure of.
He sulked and sat next to me.
"Do you want a hug?" That usually worked when he was three.
"No." he said quietly and sternly.
"So, tell me what's going on. Why are you so annoyed?"
He buried his head in the pillows of the couch. "This girl at school said "Girls can hit boys but, boys can't hit girls." But that is a lie and not true. She lied to me right mom."
My brain was going five directions at once. How do I explain cultural differences to a child that I taught that hitting is never the answer to any problem. So I bought myself time as I formulated my answer. "Did she hit you?"
He covered his face with a pillow.
I pulled the pillow off. "Gabriel."
"What?" he wouldn't make eye contact.
"Did she hit you?"
"No, but she lied mom right." he was furious that someone would lie to him. He is so my child.
I took a breath. "It is not ok for anyone to hit anyone else."
"Why would she lie like that?" he threw up his hands.
Here came the hard part. "Gabriel, not every family is the same. When I was a kid it was OK for boys to fight on a regular basis's. The rule then was that was fine as long as they didn't hit girls. Your friend might be growing up in a house like that. It's not a lie to her because that is what her parents are telling her."
"I was right, she was lying."
"You are right Gabriel, but she is not lying. In her family it might be ok. What you need to tell her is that it is not Ok for anyone to hit anyone else. Say something like. Yeah, in the old days that was true but not now in the year 2008 no one hits anyone else."
He smiled and laughed. "Ok."
"If she hits you tell the teacher."
P.S. I did get a hug in the end.