Desperately Seeking Mr. Miyagi

I had “the talk” with my son’s preschool teacher on Tuesday.

By “the talk” I mean the hurried one to two minute Sum Up The Tackler’s Behavior For The Day conversation we grab when my son has already exited stage left and headed for his sister’s pick-up point – even though I asked him to wait.

On days “the talk” is required, my son’s ears have either run out of batteries or are simply turned off until a key word such as “candy” or “movie” is echoing off the artwork decorated walls.

This time she voiced a concern I have had for a while.

“There isn’t a kindergarten teacher anywhere who would be able to keep him in class when he acts like this.”

I adore his teacher and I know she tolerates and works with him more than most would. Because she loves him.

She also only has ten kids, not the twenty or so a kindergarten would have.

It should be noted, the first half the school year ran smooth – The Tackler calmed down considerably when he turned four (the Three’s were Terrible).

I don’t know if it is because he is comfortable now and trusts his teacher. Or if he’s bored.

Or if he just doesn’t care.

It reached a point a Tuesday she flat out asked him, “Do you want to home?”

His vehement shake of “no” was immediate, and I think things turned around from that point on.

I am left at a loss.

My son has good days. He has bad days. He has the mixed bag days.

The child he is on the good days shares little resemblance to one he transforms into on the bad. And vice versa.

The awesome good days make me temporarily wish for another child.

The bad days throw into doubt my parenting skills and instill dreams of five year old boot camp.

The bad days have increased in frequency since January.

I’m keep hoping it is a phase.

Then I think back to my childhood.

I realize we are not so different, him and I.

"Man who catch fly with chopstick accomplish anything."

I’m going to try something new, and go straight to the expert: Mr. Miyagi.

The Tackler is going to start martial arts next week.

We will see how it goes.

But I have hope.

Hope it will give him strength to make the right choices.

Hope it will give him control over his frustrations.

Hope it will teach him respect must be earned.

Hope it will teach him focus for things that are not volcanoes, earthquakes, or in outer space.

Hope it will finally teach him to listen and not ignore.

Hope it will teach him the value of patience and hard work.

Hope it will mold him into the wonderful boy I know he can be – every day.

Too often his perfectionism hinders him – if he cannot do it right, why even try?

Learning to ride a bike was a rare time he pushed through his many frustrations. He would crash into the pavement and scream, “I’m never riding a bike again.” Two minutes later he was pedaling again because for once his need to do something outweighed the challenges.

I want to see him excel in other areas – without having an It’s the End of the World Meltdown Because I Didn’t Draw California Right. Those moments often lead to lashing out at whoever is closest to him.

He’s already professing a wish for a black belt.

I turn to Mr. Miyagi again for a response.

“First learn stand, then learn fly. Nature rule. Not mine.”

Now how to explain it in five year old terms….

* * *

Has your child ever tested you to the point you just don’t know how to get through to them? Whose advice helps you?


About Kelly K @ Dances with Chaos

Kelly K has learned the five steps to surviving of motherhood: 1) Don't get mad. Grab your camera. 2) Take a photograph. 3) Blog about it. 4) Laugh. 5) Repeat. She shares these tales at Dances with Chaos in order to preserve what tiny amount of sanity remains. You can also find her on her sister blog, Writing with Chaos ( sharing memoir and engaging in her true love: fiction writing. It's cheaper than therapy.
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27 Responses to Desperately Seeking Mr. Miyagi

  1. stephicakes says:

    Mine’s only three and a half, but a lot of this sounds SOOO familiar. Yesterday, we went from “oh my gosh, I’m so proud to be your momma, you’re such a wonderful child” to “Dear God, I am locking myself in this bathroom for 5 minutes while you bang on the door, just cause I need SOME sort of a break.”
    I’ve considered Karate too (money’s too tight right now). I’ll be looking forward to hearing how it goes, so make sure to update. 🙂

    • The Terrible Threes were one of the worst years of parenting I’d been through. Forget the twos.

      He seemed to get better when he turned four, but lately I’ve seen more and more sliding into the terrorizing zone again.

      I’d like to stop it before he gets kicked out of school.

      I will be sure to post about any progress that is made.

      Thank you for stopping by!

  2. Katie says:

    Albert and I have often discussed martial arts for Little Man. Not because he misbehaves in school — while he will occasionally bounce off the walls or act out towards his sister at home, he is usually extremely well-behaved at school — but for the discipline in general. We just think there are a lot of great lessons and messages that are taught in martial arts. Probably helps that Albert studied judo as a kid and Satoko has a black belt in kendo. I don’t think we can start him until age 4, though.

    Good luck — I’ll be interested to hear how it goes!

    • I did hapkido after college as well, and I loved it. I never found a dojo teaching the style here, then I had kids…. I never got back into it.

      A part of me is hoping to get back into it once Lil Diva is old enough for it…

      Meanwhile, it was another “lovely” day at school – he was sent to the “principal’s” for using the word “kill”. He claims it was toward someone’s beverage, I think they thought it was toward the child.

      While disturbing, I have childhood memories of kids with cap-guns killing each other while running outside in the summertime. My parents refused to buy me any gun other than a water pistol so I had to pretend my finger was one.

      Isn’t this also a right of passage?

      I have no idea.

      But I’m passing it onto his karate instructor….

      • Diane K says:

        They send kids to the principal’s office for using the word kill? No pun intended, but the word “overkill” comes to mind.

  3. Annie says:

    It’s a phase. Boys are so much more than girls in this regard (typically).
    It will come…and go..and come again..and go again. I’ve had so many “what-the-h*ll-am-I-to-do-with-you” moments. Moments when I think my little boy(s) is destined for prison.
    My personal feeling is it is because boys (in general) have a harder time verbalizing feeling. They are better at physically demonstrating feeling.
    Martial Arts will rock. Good idea mom. 🙂 Anything to burn a lot of physical energy.

  4. Kerry says:

    I really do feel your pain. I have long been considering martial arts for The JCP but I was waiting until he turns The Tackler’s age. But yes, I do feel your pain. You know how difficult we’ve had it lately, so you know I do empathize

    • Kerry – They have a Tiny Dragons group – I think it is for 3 and 4 year olds – so JCP could join now if you wished. I’m not sure about the potty training rule, but as they prefer parents to be there during the lesson, I don’t think it would be a problem (as you would be there for a diaper change).

      Ironically, I picked the same place as our mutual Cupcake Lady friends – she highly recommends them – although I was told about this place from his teacher at school.

      Let me know if you want the info.

      And yes, I sympathize greatly.

  5. Running from Hell with El says:

    OMG Kelly, I identify so very much with this piece and with the troubles you write about above. Hang in there sister. I have a feeling that like me you’re hanging on for the ride anyway, you know? It is hard, so hard but I do think the kids are going to be alright.

    • I knew I couldn’t be the only parent who goes through this.

      Thirty years ago, people would have said “Oh, it’s fine. He’s all boy. That’s normal.”

      Now I’m looked to as a parent who failed.

      I am happy to report (since I was behind in comment responding) that after a mere six lessons we have seen a remarkable improvement in the Tackler’s behavior. We’ll see how tomorrow goes, but the last two school days he remained in “green” the entire day, and he even went 3.5 days without a single timeout last week, and is now on day 3 of another time-out-less streak.

      Coincidence? Or the power of Mr. Miyagi?

  6. lexy3587 says:

    firstly – i don’t have kids, and therefore, have zero opinions/advice apart from – good luck!
    An elementary school in my area tried something, though, which sounds like it could be related, kind of. They put a few stationary bikes at the back of the class. Each kid rides on it for 20 minutes or so at the beginning of class, and the kids who tend to have trouble concentrating/sitting still are allowed to get up from their desks and go back to bike (while also paying attention, obviously) for a few minutes when they start to feel fidgety. Apparently both teachers and students in those classrooms are finding a huge improvement, overall. Just having an outlet for all that energy really lets them calm down enough to concentrate and the so-called ‘problem kids’ are transformed. Kids have so much energy, it makes sense that they have trouble sitting still for as long as we expect them to, so early on.

    • That is brilliant. Sadly, my son’s school does not have any stationary bikes, but why not? Combining physical activity with combating restless energy would be a total win.

      I witnessed the remarkable difference just last week when my son “shadowed” at a preschool. At first he was a little antsy – he came in during the sitting still part. Then they had snack and recess. After recess, he was a different child.

      They even did recess a second time, but they warned the kids it would only be for five minutes – and again, it worked to calm them down.

      Sadly I think at most he might have gym and one recess a day in kindergarten. Maybe two.

      I had three recesses. Long ones. And a naptime. And still somehow learned.

  7. Diane K says:

    From the bottom, middle, and top of my heart…. he is going to be just fine. I know that I will never miss an opportunity to see him again. In fact, he might just help me overcome my flying phobia. It meant more to me that he asked about me that next day than I can even put in to words.

    I think it is a great idea that he is getting in to martial arts. That is going to be a huge help.
    “You must focus your chi, grasshopper!” (I can’t recall the movie that line came from….I will try to find out and let you know).

    His imagination is huge. The time it takes to practice, to learn the skills are frustrating to him because he is already, in his mind, achieving the end result. Working through the boredom and all the non-exciting things that don’t immediately produce the results he is after is going to be a challenge for him (and his parents, I would guess). But he WILL get it, and at least as far as I can tell, his parents are doing a great job at figuring out how to help him with that process.

    I hope that helps a little, and please give him a big old hug for me. And give yourself one too.


  8. I love the karate/martial arts idea, Kelly. I think that’s got to be a perfect way to teach him. Sometimes you can talk to them til you’re blue in the face and it doesn’t do any good. We are having similar issues, although for whatever reason my children behave perfectly at school and reserve their worst behavior for me whilst at home.

    You are a GREAT mom. You aren’t doing anything wrong. You deserve a giant hug and a glass of wine. And if you were here I’d give you both!

    • My daughter follows the “angel at school, little hellion at home” philosophy. My son is equal opportunity.

      After one month of karate, we have only had one bad day at school – following 4 perfect ones there, plus two other great ones at a different school.

      I’m hoping he was just tired that day – he’s started sleeping on the floor for some reason.

      Love you, hon. I’d totally take you up on your offer.

  9. Hang in there, apparently we all do grow up! 🙂

  10. Fencing is good, too. Lots to discipline there if he doesn’t dig the martial arts.

    Kel, I’m sorry things have been tough of late. The Tackler would do well to possibly have a guy babysitter — someone besides females teachers telling him to be good, be quiet. Boys are very physical. Even the most obedient boys squirm. Or tap. Or wiggle. Schools don’t much like that. But boy babysitters can be really fun and encourage that a little bit –outside the classroom. Kinda like less structured martial arts. My SIL has always been my go-to person. All of her three kids are fabulous. Best lesson: never play with your kids…then they look to you for entertainment. She was so right. She should write a book. Seriously.

    Also, I have found counseling can help. Sometimes kids actout for a reason they can’t articulate to you. Best money you can spend is on a little counseling for your child.

    Good luck.

    • I get the “don’t play with your kids” reasoning – we’ve just broken that rule too many times, and frankly, I wouldn’t miss a moment of it.

      My kids do self-entertain as well, thanks to great imaginations.

      It has been rough, but karate is already showing a difference. This last Thursday was bad, but the previous four school days went great, following weeks of bad days.

      I think he would love fencing too. Maybe once he gets a bit more control.

      Male baby-sitters are surprisingly hard to find – especially ones that change diapers, as Lil Diva is not yet potty trained -believe me, I’ve looked.

      Thank you always for your words and support.

  11. Ugh! Hugs to you, I’ve been there. Recently. Be sure of one thing – you are a fantastic mom. If you didn’t care so much, none of this would matter. You would turn a blind eye. Your son is lucky to have you in his corner. I’m learning to stop engaging when my youngest starts acting like this – she refuses to leave the room and go to “time-out”, so then the arguments becomes focused on “time-out” so instead, I put myself in “time-out”. It seems to work. The minute I leave the room, she stops having an audience. It keeps me in control. At school, when her teacher sees the storm brewing in her eyes, she immediately sends her to the bathroom or the coat room to “re-group” before rejoining the class. That works like a charm because she doesn’t want to miss anything. Pulls it together every time.

    • Yes, we’ve had the argument turn into the “time-out” fight. The problem is, often the time-out is from behavior toward his sister. If he refuses to leave, the situation isn’t taken care of because if I do, he still has audience with his sister. She often refuses to leave because she idolizes her brother.

      It is also much easier if she’s down for a nap.

      Still working on the perfect solution, but I love to hear your words of support. Thank you.

  12. Pingback: What Does “Gifted” Mean Anyway? | Dances with Chaos

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