"Hello?" "Hi Mrs. Hladky, it's Mr. Wojnicz, Isaac's teacher..." "Oh, hi, how are things?" (Don't know why I ask this question, so I squint my eyes shut and smack my forehead...but we keep talking). "Well, I just wanted to call to let you know Isaac's going to be coming home with a red light today...he made some bad behavior choices while waiting to use the bathroom, and was running in the halls, raising his voice...we had a talk about it, but decided it was a good idea for him to have a red light today to talk about it at home with you and Dad." Some of you are reading this thinking, "That's it? He was running and being loud and cutting in line for the bathroom?" In Isaac's school, its a little different. Order, control, and even how loud the kids are become major issues in creating a healthy, safe, and encouraging environment for these kids who may not function in a regular classroom. Back to my story...
First, relief. Isaac's not physically harmed. Second, smiling. I could picture him running down the hall, yelling something along the lines of "I'M FREEEEEE!" while trying to zip up his jeans on dress down day. Third, a pang in my heart. It's never easy to hear that your child had to be reprimanded. I'm not embarrassed, though...never embarrassed. I learned long ago that although Isaac's my son, he is still his own person and responsible for his own actions--especially in school where he knows the rules. It's just my job to love and lead him through.
I text Dan with a few questions...how should we discuss this? He tries very hard to listen and obey and this is only his second red light of the school year...but, what should the discipline be?
Yes, I said the "d" word.
Discipline is something we use in our home. We use it because we love our sons. It's tailored specifically to each boy, because they are different and comprehend differently. We want to teach them, correct them, and love them all at once (and it IS possible, done in the correct way.) We want them to grow up with respect, and an understanding that every action has an effect. Good choices=good effects. Bad choices...well....
I hear the car pull up the drive, and watch as my friend/carpool partner leaves and Isaac comes through the back kitchen door. He knocks first (this has become his habit--he likes me to say, "who is it?") When he walks in, I pretend I'm oblivious. Simply mom, just unloading the dishwasher.
He is very still and very somber.
"Mommy...I didn't get a green light today...I didn't even get a yellow light...I got a RED LIGHT." He emphasizes the red light part. I simply stop what I'm doing, go to his side and kneel down to eye level.
"Isaac, everybody has red light days." I give him a huge hug. "I love you and I'm sorry you had a red light."
We talk about the behavior that he got in trouble for. He tells me he's ready to go to his friend's house for the playdate we planned. I make the difficult decision to cancel the playdate as the consequence to the red light. He is sad...mad...frustrated. I hold my ground. I try and hug him and he pushes me away.
This is the painful part of parenting.
After a few minutes, Isaac has forgiven and forgotten. He smiles as he plays with his cars. And I finally get that hug.
It might seem like an insignificant day, but for me, and for Isaac, it's moments like these that build trust between us, teach boundaries, and remind him that there are rules that he has to abide by.
The rule that never changes is my love for him. Even on red light days.