My son started junior kindergarten a few weeks ago. I had vague concerns about this particular child in the public school system, but he'd adapted pretty well to daycare, so I told myself it would just be an extension of that.
He's floundering. He's getting aggressive with other kids and the teacher. He's lying to me and to the teacher, often insisting in the face of contrary evidence. Yesterday he stole another child's toy and brought it home, claiming it was a gift. Today I sent it back with him. Tonight he admitted the theft without any provocation from me, and without any apparent remorse. In fact, he told me that he was telling me so that I would know that he wanted this toy so badly he had to steal it. It was, in fact, my fault, and I should buy it for him so he wouldn't have to steal. All with tears and whiny, expectant tone. Oh, yes, my boy is clever in averting responsibility.
These are all new behaviours. He's always had a temper and we've been working on explosive responses his whole life, so he's actually got some skill in dealing with them (at least at home). But stealing, lying - these are not explosive behaviours. These are selected behaviours in a rational state of mind. These are the behaviours of a powerless person attempting to take power or gain notice, enacted throughout history by powerless people, everywhere.
So I jump first to feeling guilty. I haven't been available to him. I've been incredibly busy with work, in and out, allowing other family to take most of the day-to-day with the kids for the past two weeks, just as he was working through this transition. I left him to deal with his powerlessness on his own, possibly even feeling abandoned by me. Right. You know by now how I work on myself.
See, what's really bothering me is this: one thing public school does is teach kids just how little power they have as people. Which is why I don't want him there. But.
But I took this job in non-profit. As a result, my salary is not more than half of what it was, which means we can't afford the bilingual school. For free, our choices are either public school or French public school. So it's 20 four-year old kids to one teacher, instead of 14:2. It's full French curriculum, instead of learning in both languages. And for him, it's being institutionalized in a rigid system designed for the most common denominator. instead of an individualized learning program. Every week-day for pretty much his entire childhood, since I work and summers will just be more day programs run out of schools.
I know that my child does not stand his best chance in this system designed and engineered for efficient processing of mediocrity. It's my choice for myself that has made it our only real option. Understanding the ramifications of that choice, now that more than a year has gone by and he's actually starting school, opens a well of sorry.
So I can lament it, and I do. More than I care to say.
And I also need to figure out how to help him feel like a human being, deserving of respect and love, even as he must relinquish a lot of his power to the system that controls his days. Oh, and convince him not to hit, lie and steal.
This feels very hard. I think I need a hug.