I Wish Zoe Thought I Was a Very Mean Mommy

I mentioned a couple of days ago that I was a Very Mean Mommy when Noah got in trouble. I wish I could say the same for my little girl. Zoe has been getting into some trouble lately, and I have been doing my BEST to be a Very Mean Mommy, but so far it is not working.

Zoe is doing great academically in kindergarten. She’s at the top of her grade level in math. She’s one of the best readers in her class. They have not done an assessment yet, but her teacher said she would be “very interested” to see what Zoe’s reading level turns out to be when she is tested in December. When Noah was in kindergarten, he got weekly “Baggie Books.” There was an envelope with a leveled book. He had to read it, have me sign his paper, and take it back. Since Zoe is so advanced in her reading, she gets Baggie Books twice a week and she has to make up new sentences about what is happening in the picture on each page. She makes the sentences up and writes them on her own. We are working on capitalization and punctuation, but otherwise she does an awesome job.

She’s also doing great socially. She has about a zillion friends. Her birthday party is coming up, and she has so many friends we had to start eliminating people. We went to her fall carnival a few weeks ago and she knew almost everyone. Fifth graders were waving excitedly and saying, “Hi Zoe!” when they saw her. Fifth graders! She also says she has two boyfriends, Conrad and Pierce.  

HOWEVER, she is also getting her little social self into trouble. She has gotten three notes home from her teacher because she was “talking during learning time” and “not keeping her hands and feet to herself” (not for hitting or anything, but because she was hugging and messing around with other kids during learning time). I know the teacher well (I graduated from high school with her son and Noah had her last year) so I do feel like I can talk to her openly. She said that she only sends notes home when it has really become a problem. She has great things to say about Zoe. She says she is smart, confident, and “so cute,” but she just CAN’T STOP TALKING. She hopes that it is just a maturity issue and that Zoe will start to learn some self-control, but warned that we might have to put her on a “behavior improvement plan” (I’m not quite sure what that entails) if it’s still happening after winter break.

Miss Stacey, the bus driver, has also had to stop and talk to us four times. Once was because she had a candy party at school, shared the candy with her friends on the bus, and then left the trash all over the floor. She made Zoe and her friends pick it all up, and that has not happened since. The other times were, of course, because Zoe was TALKING. And not only talking, but GETTING OUT OF HER SEAT to go talk to kids. The bus driver said she even moved Zoe to an inside seat thinking that would keep her from getting out in the aisle, but somehow she gets out anyway.  It is obviously not safe for her to be in the aisle, and she could get kicked off the bus if she keeps doing it. The bus driver also says Zoe is sweet and cute, but she is getting very frustrated with her. She says that Zoe knows she is not supposed to be out of her seat, and that she watches Miss Stacey in the big mirror and only gets up when she thinks she’s not looking. Miss Stacey moved her to the front seat, but Zoe talked her ear off and I don’t think Miss Stacey wants her there anymore. (Heh.) She said, “She’s always, ‘Miss Stacey! Miss Stacey! Miss Stacey!’ She just EXHAUSTS me.” I told her I know the feeling.

Then Tuesday she said “ass” on the bus. Christian’s mom got her off the bus that day and Miss Stacey told her about it. His mom forgot to tell us that night, so she called the next morning. Christian was in a hurry when he talked to her, so he thought that “someone” on the bus said ass. We learned that it was actually Zoe who said it when I sat down with her last night. I said, “Mimi said something happened on the bus yesterday. Can you tell me about it?”

Zoe got quiet, but eventually said, “I said butt.”

I said, “Well, butt isn’t a nice word, but it’s not a bad word. I’d like it better if you said ‘bottom,’ but it’s not a word you would get in trouble for. Mimi said someone on the bus said, ‘ass.’ Who said that?”

She sat quietly again, then eventually said, “Me.”

Sigh. And now she had lied to me. I told her that she would not have been in trouble if she has just said a bad word, because I know she hears them (I’m talking to you, Grandpa!), and that sometimes they just slip out, but now that she had lied to me I was very upset. I told her to take her bath and go to bed.

Christian and I are a little puzzled, because she NEVER got in trouble in preschool. I know preschool is much more relaxed, but this kind of feels like it came out of nowhere. We also cannot figure out a punishment that will get through to her. With Noah, telling him I wouldn’t sign his homework sheet and writing a note to his teacher was perfect. I made my point. Problem solved. Zoe is much harder to crack. She is so freaking stubborn. If Noah does something wrong and I send him to his room, telling him he can come out when he is ready to apologize, he’s in there for about three minutes before he comes out and is TRULY sorry. When I do the same thing with Zoe, she could be in there for forty minutes and still not be ready. (Colin just usually goes to his room and falls asleep.)

We thought for a long time about what a good punishment might be. I really don’t think she would be that upset if we took away TV, computer, or her iTouch. There’s no particular toy that she’s attached to other than Strawberry Shortcake, and we thought taking her away would be a little too mean. The only thing we could think of was taking away her skirts and dresses. About a year ago, my little t-shirt and jeans girl, who regularly sucks her thumb and picks her nose at the same time, decided she wanted to wear skirts and dresses.  She never looked back, and she has become quite the little fashionista. (I need to take a picture of her in her pink cowboy boots someday.)

The first time we got a note home, we told her that since she was not making good choices at school (talking during learning time), we weren’t going to let her make choices at home (picking out her own clothes). Every time she’s gotten a note home (or a conversation from the bus driver), I pick her clothes out for three days. (I even went shopping to stock up on jeans and plain t-shirts for these occasions.) At first, it seemed to upset her, but now she’s just taking it in stride. She’s so stubborn, though, that I’m not sure she would let it show if she was upset about it.

I was so proud of us when we came up with this punishment. It seemed so creative and so appropriate, but it’s NOT WORKING! Anyone have other ideas? We are completely open to suggestions at this point.

We are so screwed. If she’s like this when she’s (almost) six, I shudder to think about 16.

7 thoughts on “I Wish Zoe Thought I Was a Very Mean Mommy

  1. Do you know what her love language is by chance?
    I learned this several years ago and it has really helped me with my students.
    Instead of consequences, could she work toward a favorable goal? Tally marks, stickers on a chart, etc. for every day she has no note. (You may want to check w/the teacher to be sure no note was sent home because she might try to dispose of it!) And then a reward after xxx number of days.
    Can her teacher place her in a position in the classroom that isolates her a little more?

    Does she like particular earrings or fingernail polish that she could wear/not wear for good/bad behavior?

    One thing I read about (but have never done) is to have the child tape themselves talking (I read it a long time ago and it was to fill up a side of the cassette tape and then spend the next 1/2 hour listening to it). Apparently the child got bored and it worked for him/her.

    Would doing extra chores at home work? That worked for several of my kids!

  2. I don’t know what her “love language” is. Maybe physical touch? I will have to look into that.

    Her teacher has moved her and has said that is helping. I think the main problem right now is that we are not getting immediate feedback. For example, in first grade, Noah comes home with a certain color smiley face each day. Everyone starts out with a yellow face. If the face is still yellow when he comes home, it means he had a great day. A green means he got one warning, blue means he lost half a recess, etc. Zoe’s teacher doesn’t do that. We asked about it, but she said she didn’t like doing it anymore after she had trouble with one little boy. She said she felt like he always had something bad to take home and she thought it “broke his spirit.” If Zoe has to have a behavior improvement plan, we may get daily feedback, and I think that would really help.

    Right now when she comes home, we don’t know if it was a good day or not. She may say it was a good day when it wasn’t, so I’m hesitant to do a daily reward. We only get the notes after she has had several bad days, and by then the consequence almost seems too late. The only thing we can do right now is a reward or punishment based on whether or not she got a note home. The problem is that not getting a note home doesn’t necesarily mean she was “good.” It just means she wasn’t “bad enough” to get one.

    I’ve also thought about making her do extra chores, but she actually LIKES chores. She likes making her bed, washing windows, cooking, folding laundry, etc. The ony thing I can think of that she would not like is picking up dog poop, and that seems too mean. I’m afraid someone would call CPS on us.

    I am very careful to tell her, “I love you. There is nothing you could ever do that would change that, but I am not happy with the choices you are making right now.”

  3. Have they done cognitive testing on her? She sounds like she might fall in the gifted range, so perhaps she’s getting bored so she’s getting her stimulation through constant talking/socializing? She might need an added challenge/added stimulation and she’d start to calm down a bit. 🙂 Either that, or your kid just needs to constantly be surrounded by a lot of people–you may have a future public speaker on your hands. 🙂

  4. Ally-

    I have considered the gifted idea, but how does one go about suggesting that? She’s very good at math, reading, and writing, and she’s a terrific arist. But, I mean, doesn’t everyone think their kid is gifted? 🙂

    Zoe has always been a social butterfly. When she was three at preschool she knew who everyone’s mommy, daddy, brothers, and sisters were, She knew the teachers that she hadn’t even had. I know in the long run her social skills will probably be put to good use, and this probably really isn’t *that* big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. It’s not like she’s hitting kids or acting out. She’s just my challenging little girl!


  5. Using teacher recommendations and standardized tests as guidelines, selected students will be evaluated at the end of second grade, then the top students will be offered the opportunity to be placed in what used to be called the TAG (talented and gifted) program – it’s called something else now, I think COMPASS or something like that – in 3rd through 5th grades, so you’ve got at least two years to keep her occupied. 🙂

    I would think her teacher’s “behavior improvement plan” would have to include some kind of immediate feedback, but before she has to implement an official plan that would be on Zoe’s record, maybe she would agree to some kind of daily message to keep you in the loop. Perhaps some kind of code so Zoe’s spirit wouldn’t have an opportunity to be broken, like a circle for a good day, square for a not so good day, etc. You can’t really do anything helpful if you don’t know what’s happening.

  6. If socialization is what she is motiviated by perhaps good behavior could earn her some extra socializing time – a week with no problems means a play date on the weekend kind of thing? Of course to make that work the teacher has to be giving you accurate feedback. I actually made up note cards that said “I had a good day today” Or “I had a hard time today” and gave them to my son’s teacher. All she had to do was pick one or the other and toss it in his bag at the end of the day. If his day was “bad enough” then she added a note on the card about what he had a hard time with. You might ask the teacher if there is some way she can keep Zoe busy if she is finishing work fast then starting to socialize – not just additional work though – maybe helping the teacher sort papers or helping another student. My son LOVES to be a helper and gets a huge charge out of being the one to show someone else how to do something. He’s not gifted but since he is repeating K he does know more than some of the other kids at times.

  7. Pingback: Zoe’s kindergarten year | My Minivan Rocks!

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