I Didn't Know Kindergarten Offered a Class on Copping an Attitude

Family Matters on 10.13.11
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My son has now officially been in kindergarten for just over one month. Most aspects of it have been much as I expected and he seems to be doing well with his school work, making friends, and generally adjusting to this big milestone in his life. But what I wasn't expecting was that he would suddenly have such an attitude about things, and it is clearly the result of going to school.

When he gets on the bus in the morning, I often get a hug and he drives away waving out the window. But in the afternoon he gets off that bus, barely makes eye contact with me, and walks into the house before he will even say hello. What happens to my child during the day? It's as though he knows he's a part of a family unit in the morning, but throughout the day he realizes that he's a big kid with independence, and he doesn't want the other kids to know that he still hugs his mother at five years old.

It's not as though he's never given me a hard time-we've had plenty of those moments-but since he's started kindergarten, there has been a heightened intensity with which his attitude shines through. Whether it be the talking back, the stomping of his foot when he wants to make a point, or the new phrases he's learning on the playground, they are all much more definitive when he disapproves of my ideas on what he should do or my mere existence in the driveway when he hops off the bus. And when I've seen him at school or on the playground after school, I can see how the interaction between the kids causes it. Of course, he wants to try to fit in with what the other kids are saying and doing and some of those kids have older siblings so they are exposed to other things that they then bring to the playground. It's the way life goes even though I don't want it too.

I knew that heading off to kindergarten meant that there would be many new influences on him and that it would be the beginning of him gaining his independence. I just didn't realize how quickly he would be trying to exude that independence. It's clear that while we can conitnue to teach our children our values and how we want them to treat people, as early as kindergarten we are really letting them go out into the world on their own and we can't control every little thing they are exposed to anymore. But the good news is that he wouldn't dare give his teachers any attitude. He's doing everything he can to keep his name in the green on the behavior wheel at school, and he wants to prove he can make the entire year without any warnings. Yup, he's saving all of that new attitude just for me and his father. Lucky us.

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