Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Mother's Love

Mikey is the boy who greets everyone with a hug--whether they want one, or not.

Mikey is the little boy who brings dinosaurs to school to show his principal the difference between an Apatosaurus, a Tyranasaurus Rex, and a Spinosaurus. Then he'll tell her how they lived in Center America and that's where paleontologists can find their fossils.

Mikey is the little boy who knows the alphabet, can count forwards and backwards, and does simple addition and subtraction.

Mikey is also the little boy teachers are suggesting needs a third year of preschool. For all that academic heft, he's a bit of a rascal. He is, as they say, immature for his age. He doesn't sit still during reading circle time, loves to wrestle and put out imaginary fires, and if it wasn't for his ability to hear the theme song to Lazy Town in the shower while the T.V. is set to mute, I would assume he is deaf. By the way, Lazy Town? Freakiest show ever.

Every day when I drop him off at school I remind him to put on his listening ears and to sit still and listen during Reading Circle. Every morning he looks at me with those gumball-sized gray eyes and says, "Of course, Mama!"

Every afternoon I pick him up and ask his teacher how he did. And every afternoon she says, "He's working on it!" Translation: you're lucky your kid is cute and friendly.

Last year, Mikey did better as the year progressed. By the time the school year ended, his listening skills were much improved--enough so that I had high hopes for this year. Right now, they are all but dashed. I'm at a bit of a loss. He doesn't have any problems listening at home. He behaves very well, minus a few typical 4 year old transgressions, and doesn't give me half the problems I hear and see my friends experiencing with their own kids. There is just something that happens to Mikey when he gets around a group of kids that makes him, literally, devolve into some quasi-hominid.

I explained all of this to his teacher on Friday. She suggested I cut out most of his T.V. time and encourage him to play cards, board games, puzzles, etc. Sounds easy enough. She then suggested I tire him out by playing outside and going on bike rides. Again, that sounds easy enough. Then she suggested that maybe, just maybe, he needs to be around more kids his age. You know, so he can learn what is appropriate behavior (i.e., quit hugging everyone), not get so excited every time he sees someone his size, and basically chill out when among his peers. She suggested we socialize. That didn't sound easy at all.

The Mister and I, we're home people. As I have mentioned before, we don't like big parties or crowds or organized clubs. We don't even watch reality T.V.--that's how averse we are to people we don't know.

Mikey, on the other hand, loves to be around people. He greets strangers with a handshake and a smile. "Hi! My name is Mikey K. and I love dinosaurs." He will play with anyone and lights up whenever he sees other children. He really is a people person.

So, on Friday, as I watched him run around the room with Benjamin putting out imaginary fires and then later hold Brooke's hand while her mom and I walked towards our parked cars, I thought to myself that if Mikey needs to socialize and be around more kids, so be it. If he is happy, I am happy. And that's when I realized they weren't lying when they said there isn't much a mom won't do for her child.