I'm not really sure if Jace is going on fifteen or acting like a normal six year old. I tend to think that most of his behaviors are pretty normal for his age, actually. But I think that only because I don't know any better and am more likely to under react than over react. Even when he acts out and I don't like it, I still figure he's being his age. That little incident we had a few weeks ago (read this is you're not familiar) is one exception. It was very inappropriate and I didn't care if other six-year-olds were acting out similarly...that best never happen again. But it got me thinking.
That's what I do, though...I think. I know enough not to try to have lengthy sit down chats with Jace to get to the bottom of why he's behaving a certain way. He probably doesn't even know. But that doesn't stop me from wanting to know why, and make whatever changes can be made to assure better behavior.
So, I've been pondering this and asking little questions here and there and doing some reading. With all of this and a journal entry Jace brought home on yesterday, I think I may have figured out something.
Jace's reading class has readers that have some blank pages in them for journaling. There's a space to draw a picture to go along with the sentences he writes. Jace's reading teacher had written a note above his work explaining that Jace had been asked to journal independently for two days and she was disappointed in what he'd done. He had drawn a very colorful picture of a bleeding eye. All he'd written on the two pages were the words "blood," pointing to the red dripping from the eye, and "love it or dead."
We talked to Jace and found out that, according to him, it was another boys idea to draw eyes. We reinforced the importance of making good choices for himself and taking responsibility for his own actions. I asked him if he understood why the picture wasn't OK for school. He said, "Because it's not nice." This is true. It's also gruesome, disturbing, unpleasant...but 'not nice' works too.
We had him draw a new picture and write something else to turn into his teacher that would be appropriate, nice. While he was working on it I asked him if it was a nicer story. He answered, "Yeah. It's a 'once upon a time' story." He drew a picture of a pink fairy and wrote three short chapters about her desire to learn to fly. Of course there was a happy ending when she succeeded.
I was satisfied with this, but found it interesting that 'once upon a time' stories about fairies are creative and imaginative. But bloody eyes are not OK. Hmmm....
Last night after he'd written his story and things were back to normal here, Jace was reading one of his library books next to me on the couch. I happened to look over and noticed the word blood written in red ink, looking like the letters were dripping. The book he was reading was from the Geronimo Stilton series that he's been really enjoying. The books were recommended by the librarian when I asked what might be good for him to read that is at a 3rd or 4th grade level. I didn't think to read the books first. There's a cute mouse in reading glasses on the front of each book. But in light of what's gone on at school and seeing the bright red "blood" in his book I asked him if it was a scary book.
"This one is! I'm really enjoying it but I can't believe I'm reading it right before bed!"
"Do you like scary things?"
"Yeah, but I might have crazy dreams tonight."
"Is there anything about bleeding eyes in that book?"
"No, that was my idea." He put the book down and all the excitement went out of his voice. He felt like he was being punished again. My heart strings...
I quickly told him that enjoying scary stories was OK. He knows that Scott and I watch some adult shows that are scary and we enjoy them. But that we know when frightening things are OK and when they're not. School isn't really the place for stories like that. I gave him permission to write them at home, if he wanted, and to let Dada and I read them to help him learn how far is too far.
I hope I'm doing OK and not encouraging him to grow up too quickly. I don't like to hold back his creativity, but it seems as though his higher reading level might be leading him to read things he isn't quite ready to grasp at six years old. Maybe ten-year-olds handle vampire mice better. I read the book today...that's what it's about.
So, forward we go. I'm going to let his reading teacher know what I've discovered this weekend and see if she has any advice. I've been known to say that I'm still a first time mother. It's the truth, and I will be for many years. Every one of Jace's first is a first for me and I really have no idea what I'm doing! Well, I do know this...most days I'm doing my best. That's the goal, right?
Please, please tell me that's the goal.