After several frustrating weeks of consistently disappointing behavior at school, the clouds parted last Friday. Since Friday the turn around for Isaac has been amazing. I don't know if the promise of starting TaeKwonDo, Aunt Jessie's visit or the after school science program starting soon motivated him, but wow!
This week he earned blues at school everyday except one. The color system works like this: Purple-an award for exemplary behavior. When they get 5 of these they earn a book. Blue-for best behavior. Green-for good behavior with warnings, which meant you couldn't remain on blue. Yellow-bad behavior with multiple warnings (defiance). Orange-very bad behavior. Red-terrible behavior that required a trip to the principal/referral. This has been the year of greens and yellows because of emotional outbursts, but not this week.
When I picked him up from school, before he even climbed in, he was proclaiming "I did it! I got a blue!" I always know when he's had a bad day because he slinks in quietly instead of throwing the door open and bounding to his seat. He went on to explain that he almost made a bad choice at P.E. because "J" was making fun of him.
I had to press for details because Isaac is not a master story teller, he gets that from his dad. He told me they were running laps and J told him he was slow. I laughed so hard I snorted. If you've ever met Isaac you know that is not a befitting description of him at anytime, but especially running. I regained composure and asked what he did about it. He told me he was upset and told the teacher who separated them for the remainder of the P.E. class. I was proud of him for not turning it into a screaming match as he's in the habit of doing. He then admitted that he did yell first, but decided he didn't want to fight.
I told him that it takes practice to make good choices and next time he wouldn't yell at all. I also pointed out that what J said was ridiculous and obviously he was just trying to make Isaac mad.Isaac pondered this briefly and then sadly stated, "But, today I was slower than J, R and B!" I replied, "Oh, Isaac! No one can run the same speed every single day, not even professional runners. Some days you have more energy. Some days you're sleepy. Some times it's the end of a long week or you're stiff from sitting all day. So, some days you're faster and some days you're slower. He ponders this new information in silence. I use the opportunity to add, "But, you are never slow!" He's still thinking about this so I also add, "What a great week, buddy!" Now he chimes in, "I know!" "So maybe next week you'll get all blues" "Yeah, maybe. I used placebo." "Placebo?" "Yeah!" "Isaac, I don't think you're using the word you mean" "Yes, I'm saying the right thing placebo." "Placebo is when the doctor gives you a pill that's supposed to be medicine, but it's just a sugar pill. The placebo effect-" "Oh yeah! The placebo effect! That's it." "Let me finish. It's when the fake medicine works because you believe it's real." "Oh. Well, I didn't do medicine" "No, you're talking about something more like self-fulling prophecy. That's when you believe something will work and it does or that it won't and it doesn't because you already decided the outcome" "Ok, that then. I believe you'll buy me a book so you will" "No, buddy that's not how it works. You believe you'll get all blues so you do. What happens after that isn't up to you." "Ok, but I'm getting a new book for my blue, right?" "Yes, Isaac. That was our deal." He laughs like a cartoon villain. "Let's pick it as soon as we get home."
Later that night I took him to TKD. He was so excited he was coming unglued. He put his brand new gee on right in the middle of the floor because he was too excited to walk the 20 steps to the dressing room. I got him all signed up and got all his patches (even his academic achiever patch for his excellent report card.) and picked out a front row seat.
After lining them up in belt order the instructor asked everyone (there are 6 other kids in his class) to go say hi to Isaac. I was on the other side of the room watching. I heard mumbled greetings and after a minute Isaac exclaimed "Some days I'm faster, some days I'm slower." and then he ran the perimeter of the mat. It was one of those bucket filling moments for Mom. He was listening. What I say does matter.
He did amazing the rest class. He got a little confused and started to have a meltdown, but the other kids were so kind and supportive he just couldn't. I wish I had video taped it, it was really remarkable. It flooded me with stage combat memories. I may never have studied martial arts, but I learned all the blocks. Surprisingly, I was almost always cast as the defensive role in my stage fights. I wonder if I could still do the falls with my fused spine? It might make it easier.
It was a warm, fuzzy, maybe I'm not doing such a bad job after all, day. Don't you love those?