“How was your day?” I asked our 4-year-old daughter when she hopped off of the school bus after preschool.
She tilted her head, let out a long sigh and said, “Well, I cried.”
It’s the third week of school and she’s just now decided to be home sick? I thought.
“Why did you cry I asked?”
“Because I was bad at school,” she said.
I paused. “You were bad?” I asked, although not entirely surprised. I knew it was coming. And “bad” may be too strong of a word; she prefers to wield an attitude.
“Yep,” she answered, not fazed at all.
I proceeded to ask her what behavior she engaged in that resulted in her crying.
She was less than descriptive and was more interested in what was for lunch.
My curiosity was eating at me, so I pulled her notebook out of her backpack to see if her teacher left a note.
Hmmm … maybe something happened on the way to the bus at the end of the day.
I sent a message to the Princess’ teacher: “Princess said she was ‘bad at school today.’ Anything I need to talk with her about?”
“Nope,” the teacher said. “She was upset because I had given three students a prize for cleanup time. I was rewarding them for helping others.”
There was the magic term: cleanup. I’m sure Princess tuned out right then or pretended she didn’t understand the words. Evidence of her similar past transgressions is all over our living room.
The teacher then explained there would be other opportunities to earn a prize.
Relieved that I didn’t have to discuss sharing, not screaming or taking turns to my daughter (again), I said, “You weren’t bad at school today. You can earn a prize another day by helping someone in your class.”
My phone dinged again.
“She frowned at me for the last 30 minutes (of school),” the message from the teacher continued. “And she also kept her arm crossed.”
Ah, yes, Miss Attitude did show up at school. The teacher’s message went on to say, “Really, she looked pretty cute. She will be fine tomorrow.”
And she was. All was for forgiven (forgotten?).
A note in her notebook the next day read, “She has recovered from yesterday’s upset. She was fine today.”
By the end of the week the teacher said that the Princess in fact had a good week and she was pleased with her progress.
And with a smiley face she also noted, “She received a prize today.”