I couldn’t wait for my first born to start preschool.
He didn’t start until he was 4 years old because I had envisioned doing preschool at home with him. This led to me discovering some not so pleasant qualities about myself, like the thin line between me and animals that eat their young. So when the day came for him to start I was truly excited for him. He loves other children and the teacher in me just couldn’t wait for him to have that classroom experience.
Being that I had a spirited boy, my chief concerns for him attending preschool were behavior, behavior, and behavior. Even though my son is well-behaved most of the time, he has his moments. I went over and over with him about keeping his hands to himself and not touching anyone. I mean…. he’s handsy! Maybe it’s the karate class we (okay, it was just me) put him in when he was three just because I was excited he was finally old enough to join something. Or maybe it was that my husband and his brothers allowed him to beat the crap out of them since he was big enough to make a fist.
I don’t know, but the boy never met another boy he didn’t want to try his ninja moves out on. My husband and I explained to him that he was older now and that frankly it just wasn’t cute when he tackled loved ones, let alone strangers, anymore. I had cause for concern because just prior to him starting preschool there was an incident of such behavior at our local Chick-fil-A. As I was having lunch with a new mom from my church, I saw my son jump on the back of a dad who was bending down to tie his child’s shoe. He leaped around his neck and rode him like a bucking bronco! I was mortified to say the least.
So I understandably had reason for concern. But after the first week or so things seemed to be going well and there were no reported incidents, so I was feeling really good about things. The first couple weeks flew by and the teacher barely spoke to me as I picked my son up each day, which I took as a good sign.
Then one day within the first month of school, the teacher asked to speak with me in private before I left. Oh no!! What does she want to talk about? Every mom knows that feeling of dread when the teacher wants to talk with you about your kid. I instantly thought it must have something to do with ninja moves that another boy had mistakenly taken for hitting (I mean the boy just likes to play, am I right?). But no, it wasn’t. It had to do with his drawing. His drawing? I didn’t even know he could draw anything intelligible to begin with! At home all I got was lots of lines and circles, certainly nothing resembling a drawing.
She showed me my son’s picture. It was filled with lots of circles (resembling people) and red lines. Apparently, he told her that the lines were blood. She seemed alarmed at this because evidently all of the pictures he drew in class were similar, involving blood.
She asked, “Does he watch a lot of violence?” and had this look of deep concern on her face. I was in new territory here. I was now being asked to explain the inner workings of my son’s imagination and how it could have resulted in blood drawings. And then I did that thing that all parents do when they are asked to explain their child’s behavior. I started offering up plausible explanations that were border line ridiculous.
“No, he doesn’t watch violence.”
“He does watch Jake and the Never Land Pirates though. I think they carry swords.”
“Or maybe it was that one time he watched a part of the Hobbits: Battle of the Five Armies scene.”
“He’s always been really fascinated by blood.”
“I think he’s going to work in triage in the Emergency Room when he gets older.”
“We recently read a book on human anatomy.”
I don’t know!! I tried to ease her fears, which I assumed by her concerned tone were my son was a serial killer, explaining that he just loves blood.
I drove away thinking, “Geesh, it was just a drawing.” And then, it hit me. I remembered something from the recesses of my brain. Something I had long since forgotten about. It was my second year of teaching third grade. There was a little boy in my class who loved to draw similar things. He drew pictures with weapons and blood. People killing and being killed. I remembered how proud he was of his drawings. I was appalled. I was concerned. I thought for sure he was going to be the next mass murderer and I had discovered him.
I remember discussing these pictures with his mom. I remember her trying to explain them as well. I suddenly felt guilty….and sympathy. See, he’s a second year college student right now and has turned out to be a fine and remarkable young man. That little boy was just being….a little boy. Just like my son. Curious. Imaginative. Wanting to go to war. To kill the bad guy. To be the hero. And I have no doubt that there are thousands of other moms out there with little boys (and girls) who draw the same things at some point or the other, as they discover the world around them.
I immediately wanted to call this former student’s mom and apologize. I wanted her to know that I understand now. How she must’ve felt. Accusing her son with my concerned words and tone of…what? Of pretty much being a future serial killer. Her precious little boy, who she knew and loved with all her heart. Who only she understood, even if his teacher didn’t.
When I got home, I showed my son his drawing and asked him to tell me about it. Within this bloody scene, there was a hero who was helping the wounded and protecting them from the bad guy. At first glance, it was a bloody massacre, but there was more to it after all. And that is so often how it is…there is more to it after all. So to all the other parents out there who have been on the giving or the receiving end of such “concerned tones,” know that you’re not alone and that with time comes perspective. And….your child is probably not a future serial killer.