Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Fairies and Fists

The Scholastic flyer came home with C.S. this week and there they were – a box set of the Fairy Books. This one included a new Penguin Fairy. C.S. loves penguins and the Fairy Books. Of course he asked if he could have it.

When he read Lucy the Diamond Fairy and Juliet the Valentine Fairy I just crossed my heart protectively and hoped the tougher boys in his class would be too clueless to notice. If anyone ever teased him, he never mentioned it. But when he moved on to Mia the Bridesmaid Fairy, I continued to hold my breath, certain that one day, "Fairy!" would be hurled against him.

Also coming home with him the other day, were bad reports on his chart and an email from his teacher explaining his "unexpected behavior" — he raised his fist at his Para. This and at least 2 other incidents marred his second day back to school. That something would happen was not entirely unexpected to me. Of course the transition back to school would be difficult. I was just really shocked that he'd threaten anyone like that, but especially this sweet lady who is the Para. It is so unlike him. Anxious as he can be, he'll run to a corner, he'll growl, he'll hit himself, but threatening someone with a raised fist is just not like my sweet fairy-loving C.S.

I scolded him about his behavior. Of course his request for the fairy books became an opportunity to provide a lesson in consequences. I told him he could not have them because he had behaved so badly at school. And to him, that is that. But to me, it just opened a door — because I was strangely relieved.

Silver Lining: The thought that my sweet, usually charming, fairy-loving little guy became the perfect image of a bully with balled up fists is a horrible twist. I feared and suspected every boy in the class to have some sort of latent ruffian tendencies, every one but him. But then there was this confusing realization of relief.

Should I be so relieved that I had found a way for him not to begin reading a whole box of fairy books? Worse still, why was it I was so relieved that he could be the ruffian I feared? I still don't know why he did what he did, but that he could act so tough towards someone else at school instead of taking everything out on himself or hiding was, as inappropriate as it must have been, was a relief to me. I have to admit I'm glad to know he has it in him.

If he gets a week of perfect behavior on his chart, then I'll have no qualms about buying him the boxed set. Not only will it be a suitable follow through considering he didn't get it for behaving inappropriately, it will also be a positive reinforcement of his more tender nature. But I'm not letting go of that other behavior entirely. We just found a lot of teaching moments in this one week that's all. It won't be too long before he'll have 8 new fairy books to read wherever and whenever he wants to. I won't hold back and I won't hold my breath any longer.


  1. It's the Huck Finn iconic figure- we don't want them to be bad, but a little bad is ok... Raising a boy is so hard for this reason these days... how sensitive is "too" sensitive?

    BTW- I nominated you for an "award"... go to my Jan. 4th post to "pick it up"! :)

  2. Ahh, Mami — as I friend of mine might say, because that's so nice of you! and then with import, in my often over-thought personal style — Thank You. This award is truly an honor coming from someone as wise and Professorial as you, like an honorary degree. I humbly accept – although I'm not nearly so adept as to be know how to respond appropriately. I'll try to figure it out! Thank you!


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