Thursday, December 07, 2006

Hairism: The Unspoken Prejudice

My son is a hairist. Yesterday, at pick up time, as all the children we're waiting outside for their parents, my son jumped another child. Why? You ask. Because "He did not have spiky hair." That is a direct quote. We have somehow raised a hairist. When his teacher put him in the car she said, "We had a hard day today, Mom. He had some trouble at play time, and he just jumped a child out here at pick-up...we had to pull him off of the other boy. He said it was 'Because his hair was not spiky.'" And then she gave me a questioning look. Maybe she was thinking, "What in the world are you teaching your child? This is a Christian school, we do not judge each other based on hairstyle. I don't know what you teach him at home, but we do not allow hairism here!"


I spoke with him about it on the way home, at first he made it sound like the child was mean to him, so I said "Was he being mean to you?" BubTar said "No." and lowered his head in the back seat. So I asked "Why did you jump him, BubTar?" He answered, very passionately, "Because! His hair WAS. NOT. SPIKY. He said he was Sharkboy, but his hair was not spiky and there can only be TWO Sharkboys. And HIS!HAIR!WAS!NOT!SPIKY!" So it was largely about the hair. When the teacher told me that was the reason, I was a bit skeptical...but it turns out she was right. I think it had more to do with the fact that BubTar didn't feel like sharing his Superhero identity of the day with another boy, especially one who didn't even have the proper hair for such an identity. At least he pays attention to details.

Sigh. We are having such a time with BubTar in school. I feel like he is continually misbehaving. It is something on an almost daily basis. We follow through at home. If he is in trouble at school, we don't disregard it at home, there are always consequences. BubTar is just BubTar. He is a performer. He is passionate. He is emotional. He is silly. He is busy. He lacks self-control. But he is also very intelligent. Every time I talk to his teacher, his behavior is lacking in some way, but his academics are wonderful. I don't know if his behavior is normal for his age level, or if HE is the problem child in the classroom. I hope that is not the case, but I can't be sure. We discuss appropriate school behavior. We reinforce the rules. We carry out punishments based on his school behavior as well as his home behavior. I feel that we are doing all that we should be to teach him the proper way to behave, but it only goes so far. In the end it comes down to his choices, and he is a 4 year old boy, and he does make the wrong choice quite often. I don't want him to make classroom life difficult on his teacher, but at the same time, he is only 4 and is bound to get into trouble, even if we are teaching him properly. Even though I understand this, I still hate that he is in trouble so much at school. I worry he is the problem child and we are the problem parents. I worry we should be doing something more to correct things.

I don't want my child to be the one who beats children up for not wearing the appropriate hairstyle for their superhero of choice. "Superman? You think you're Superman?!? You have no curl on your forehead!! *jumps on child and starts swinging wildly*

Oh no, that just won't do.


NotSoSage said...

BubTar sounds like he's a warm, smart, wonderful kid who felt hurt when another kid (without the right props, no less) threatened to steal his hero persona. I seem to remember many a schoolyard argument over who was going to "be" Princess Leah or Rainbow Brite.

I think it's terrible that you would feel blamed, rather than supported, by the teacher. One of the things that I realise as my daughter gets older is how many people have a hand in raising her. If BubTar is acting out, why wouldn't she try to engage you in a conversation about how to resolve things rather than just reporting on the events?

I wish you the best of luck, and wish that I had better advice to give, even if it was just an admission that "4 year-olds will be 4 year-olds".

Beck said...

You're funny, Kyla! It's so hard to know with little boys what's normal and what's not, isn't it? I don't have any really great advice - maybe think about where he might be getting some violent messages from and try and limit those. Also, maybe some strict consequences for unacceptable behaviour - loss of tv time or whatever he really values.... little boys! Sheesh!

Kyla said...

Yesterday he had to nap. On school days where he is well-behaved he gets to watch PBS in our big bed while enjoying a snack. On days he is in trouble, he has to nap. Then, he was grounded from the computer, because he LOVES the computer. And today, he was not allowed to have spiky hair for school. *lol*

Hopefully today will be a better day. If the hair makes the man, then maybe he will pretend to be Clark Kent and act like a well-behaved nerd. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Kyla,
I came to your blog from some of the medical blogs (I am a pediatric RN) and I enjoy it very much- it's nice to have a parent's perspective on how they feel when they are facing unknown diagnoses.

As someone with a strong previous background in early childhood eduation- I just have to say that I wonder that maybe BubTar has way too many expectations on him for a 4 year old. I dont know what exact sort of school environment he's in- but developmentally at 4 he should really just be playing. No academics, no strict (and confusing!) "green card, yellow card, orange card," discipline system, etc. He should be in a preschool program- which is called PRE- school for a reason. I think on your previous post you were saying he had trouble sitting still in "chapel time" and "center time" and "learning time" What a schedule for a 4 year old! That is an incredible amount of sitting still. It should be play, eat, story, play at his age...
Just a thought. He sounds bright, social, totally on track developmentally- for a 4 year old- but it seems they are expecting him to act as a 6 year old at school.
And that whole lying thing that you wrote about a little while ago... it really bothered me that the teacher wouldn't believe him! Kids should generally be trusted and believed unless there is some great reason to think otherwise.
He sounds like a great kid- I just hope this school doesn't wear his spirit down. He has the rest of his life to sit still and be good- maybe there is a preschool near you that focuses more on laid back fun and lets him get some of his normal 4 year old energy out?

JSmith5780 said...

As the mom of a 4 year old boy also...all I can say is...I can relate. With us, as soon as he does something wrong, the first words out of his mouth are 'i did it by mistake'. We are trying very hard to make him understand the difference between doing something intentionally and doing something by mistake. We are getting no where.

Also, someone mentioned the violence issue. My kids watch Disney and Noggin, occasionally PBS. I have never seen anything violent on there, yet my three boys are very physical and rough with each other. I truly think boys just learn this stuff through osmosis or something.

Good luck Kyla!

Kyla said...

*lol* Yes, he says "I didn't do it on purfuss!" *lol*
Lately, his excuse is "My brain just MADE me do it."

We do limit what he watches, only preschool shows + the occassional Spongebob episode.

Em said...

What a funny little guy (and a funny post!)

Anonymous said...

Hey, Kyla, I'm just catching up a little here. Poor BubTar! Poor you! It's hard to be four, I think. It turns out that it's the same as 3 (which is kind of the same as 2) only everybody thinks you should act like you're 6. I'm with not-so-sage, thinking his teacher could be more supportive.

I'm glad you're getting some clarity about KayTar. Her signing is incredible.

xo Catherine

Anonymous said...

I'm new, but-
yeah, I agree w/ Christina. And yes, you don't know me from Adam, but it seems really too strict. The important thing is that he is being set up to succeed, to build his self confidence. This doesn't sound like this school is a good fit for him, and not that's okay. Not every school is going work for every child. But if it keeps going like this, it may be that he starts dreading going to a place where everyone is always disappointed in him. And it's something that could follow him throughout his school days. He sounds like a great kid, I'd definitely check into some other programs.
And BTW- so glad you got some answers for Kaytar- she's a doll!

Kristen said...

Okay, BubTar sounds a lot, A LOT, like Bryce at that age. "My brain made me do it." !!! Bryce said the same thing when he was 4. He didn't have problems specifically jumping other kids at that age, but I truly believe it's because by the time he was 4, we had found a school that challenged him and structured his day appropriately. BubTar sounds extremely bright, and I know I'm going against the grain by saying this, but I suspect maybe what he needs is *more* challenge, not less. Oh, and he probably did need a nap - that was definitely an issue for us at that age (Bryce is 5 now, but it sometimes STILL is an issue).

Andrea said...

Oh my. That is funny!
I agree that "he is just 4." And what that means is that little things (like superhero things) are extremely important. And emotions run high. And self-control lacks for all kids at this age. Combine all those things, and you have a jumping.
I also agree w/ Christina's post. That was an interesting perspective, and how I tend to look at things... that they learn so much through play and that play should be emphasized over structure. I am not saying his school has too much structure (since I don't really know), just that I think the "free play" stuff is pretty important.

Vicky said...

I'm new too! I have been reading your blog for a while now but I don't think I have posted yet. Don't worry about your handsome, charming, witty, ACTIVE little BOY! He is trying very hard and doing way better than either of my boys at four would have coped with such an academic program. My ten year old still can't sit still, and my six year old still thinks that the way you greet your friends is to put them in a head-lock....

From what you write about him, your little lad is right on track or way past his age level, and he's just acting with the emotional maturity of a four year old. He sounds lovely.