Last Wednesday was a “challenging” day for Zoe at preschool. I believe her teacher said (and I’m totally fine with this) she was “a little toot” that day, which is really her nice way of saying she was a little shit.
I know this Zoe. This is the Zoe who is feeling too big for her britches and too cool for school. I don’t like parenting this Zoe. It’s hard, and to date she’s been my easiest child. Unfortunately it seems like I’ve taken her ease for granted.
Often her attitude is related to her being tired or hungry. On that day in particular, she fell asleep in the car, 4 minutes into the 10 minute drive home. Kids and car naps: making grownups’ necks hurt by association since forever.
This new school year has kind of shattered all of Zoe’s expectations from the previous year. She expected to walk into school to a class full of friends and a teacher who doted on her. But her friends were all separated into different classes, and she didn’t understand why she didn’t have the same teacher. Miss M and been Rachel’s teacher, then Zoe’s first teacher. It just made sense: Miss M was THE teacher.
When her new teacher – also Miss M – was going through her roster, everyone sighed wistfully and said, “Oh, Zoe T. She’s a special girl. You’ll love her.”
I like Miss M2 a lot. She’s a great teacher, she’s fun, and she’s is doing fantastic work with the kids to get them ready for kindergarten. She’s just different from Miss M1, less doting and more matter-of-fact and tell-it-like-it-is. Some kids respond really well to that. Zoe responds well to feeling like a princess.
The thing is, Zoe needs to feel like she’s special. I can’t think of any other way to say it. I’m not saying she should get special treatment, but she flourishes when she’s given a little more attention. The fate of the younger sibling of identical twin sisters is either make yourself seen or you fade into the background. Zoe prefers to make herself seen with a charming, gregarious personality that hardly anyone can resist, but also hanging back when she senses her sisters are being too overwhelming. She practically got away with murder for way too long, and we had to reign her back in with some discipline after we royally kicked ourselves in the behinds for being so enchanted with her. She’s tricksy, that one.
“I like you,” she said, a few weeks into the school year, “But I don’t like you as much as Miss M1.” She was just being honest. She’s 4. Miss M2 wasn’t offended; this isn’t her first rodeo. She thanked her for her honesty and went on with her day.
She’s acting out…spitefully. Oh, you want me to put this book away? Sure. Right after I take my time flipping through every. single. page. Don’t spin around on the carpet, you say? Fine. I’ll wait until you look away, but then my ass is spinning.
Honestly, I think I’d rather she was having trouble with her “listening ears” as opposed to vengeful disobedience.
I can see why she’s having a tough time. She stood out in her first class. Not so much here. So she’s trying to make herself seen, even if it’s with less-than-desireable behaviors. It makes her look like she’s spoiled and maybe she is just a little bit. She’s my baby, and I can’t resist her snuggles and sweet kisses.
But she’s also helpful and funny and wicked smart. These little dips in behavior make up only a small percentage of what we see at home, so it makes me sad that they make up so much of her day at school, that her teachers may not be seeing her potential to be a really fantastic kid when she’s given the right motivation.