News from the Nest: Finding freedom from a fish
My son's kindergarten class recently had a teddy bear parade and the kids were supposed to bring their favorite teddy bear or stuffed animal. My son isn't and has never really been into stuffed animals. He once had a pig and puppy that he slept with but during potty training years he wet on them, so they were tossed.
The only thing he wanted to bring was his stuffed fish pillow. His FOUR FOOT LONG stuffed fish pillow. I told him it was fine. But on the morning of the parade I realized it maybe wasn't the best idea. As we walked into the school (I had to carry his backpack because the fish was so big) kids began gawking at the large fish. When we entered his classroom he was bombarded with kids running up to him to see his fish. All I could think was, "uh oh, what did I do."
My regret escalated as I saw the son of a friend of mine who brought a nice little NDSU Bison stuffed animal with him. Of course his mom is a teacher so she probably thought twice about what would be a good and appropriate choice for him to bring. Obviously I'm not only NOT a teacher, I'm now a teacher's worst enemy!
Realizing I had made a mistake I went up to his teacher and asked her to forgive me for the fish. Then I defended my decision by telling her that the fish truly is the one and only stuffed animal he cares about. She laughed and said it was fine. I told her I talked to my son about the consequences if he spent his day scaring others or wrestling with the fish. Really I threatened him and said that if I found out he was a distraction with his fish the next time he would be bringing his little sister's baby doll to school. Good parenting choice? Probably not.
As the day progressed, and as I wrote this story, I wondered what I would be faced with when I picked him up at the end of the day. Turns out my son must have taken my threat to heart and as I was told he behaved fairly well with the giant fish by his side. He did get it taken away but not until the end of the "teddy bear" parade which was also the end of the school day.
Sometimes it's okay to give kids a little extra freedom and see how they handle themselves. And other times it's better to not put them in positions in which they are almost guaranteed to make bad choices. For parents the hard part is deciding when to give the freedom and when to just keep the fish at home.