Before Aristotle started attending school, I knew everything about him. If there was trouble of any kind, I usually had a good hunch what it was about. Once he started going to school, I felt like part of me was blind and I couldn’t “see” him as clearly as I once did. Suddenly, there were things happening that I didn’t know about. Events that involved him were coloured by his interpretation of them. I was no longer the “all knowing” Mum and it was scary letting go.
Of course, this is a part of parenting that must happen. We have to let go – gradually. I understand that. However, along the way, it is still good to keep tabs on what is happening in your child’s life so that you can provide beneficial intervention from time to time as necessary.
I was talking to Aristotle’s teacher recently about some of the “troubles” we have been having with Aristotle and she told me about a picture he drew in class. It was a picture of Hercules and me waiting for an egg to hatch. When his teacher asked him about the egg, he said he was the egg.
We discussed the significance of this picture and we believe it is a visual representation of his feelings regarding his brother and the whole sibling rivalry thing. Aristotle watched as everyone in the family waited in anticipation for the arrival of Hercules, then went to visit him at the hospital, and then was excited about everything Hercules did from a gurgle to his first wobbly step. Since then, he has desperately wanted to go back to being a baby again despite all the efforts we have made to highlight to him about all the terrific things that big boys get to do that little babies and toddlers can’t.
Aristotle’s teacher pointed out that he got to see everyone waiting for his brother, but he wasn’t around to watch everyone waiting with baited breath for his arrival. He was too young to remember when we clapped and cheered on his every milestone achievement. As far as he knows, all that never happened for him hence the jealousy.
So recently, I dug out all his old photos and videos and we went through it together. I showed him the photos of him in the hospital, being carried to sleep by me, the videos of his first steps, his excitement over his very first Thomas the Tank Engine railway set – all the photos of him being adored by his family. To be honest, I felt a little guilty looking at the multitude of photos and videos we have of Aristotle because Hercules doesn’t even have a fraction of that. But I digress…
If I was hoping for a positive reaction from Aristotle, I definitely got it. I have to admit that some of my “brilliant” ideas have fallen far short of the mark with extremely disappointing results. It was great to see his ecstatic response to his old photos and videos. It also reaffirmed to him that he was just as highly anticipated as his brother (probably more so since he was the first child) and that I did all the things for him that I do now for his brother.
And this is why we need to build a good rapport with our children’s teacher. Knowing and understanding the things that are happening with our children while they are away at school can help us appropriate the right measures at home to deal with matters our children are struggling to come to terms with. In the case illustrated above, we had to manage Aristotle’s unresolved issues about the arrival of his brother into the family.
Communicating with your child’s teacher on a regular basis can also help ensure that both of you are conveying the same message to your child (which will avoid confusion for your child particularly if he is getting mixed messages – Mum says one thing, the teacher says another).