There was a time when I was terrified of that moment when my son got home from school. He was almost always very angry. The reason was because he was tired and hot or he was tired and hungry or he was tired and had not slept well the previous night. There was always him crying and me trying to console him with anything that he asked. It always backfired and got worst. He was in kindergarten and still almost a baby. At times I felt so guilty of sending him to school that early.
Fast forward to these days. He is always in a good mood and I am always looking forward to him getting home and rescuing me from the babies. He is naturally gifted when it comes to taking care of his baby sisters, I tell you! The ideas that he has. When Lil’ One was 4months old or so, he’d pull her rocker next to his study table and keep on a live commentary while he played an Umi Zoomi game on the laptop. Her rocker was such a height that she got to see the screen.
He tied his helicopter to Cuppycake’s rocker the other day and turned on the little thing. It was flashing lights but not flying because the remote was off. Cuppy was trully amazed!
Today was the best. I left him incharge of his toddler sister when I went in for a shower. I came back a few minutes later and she is sitting in his lap in their daddy’s chair and Little Mr. Goody Boy is reading to her. He is six years old!
I was stumbling around the net and landed on an article that was talking about questions to ask your child when he gets home. It got me thinking about our get home from school routine. Yep, we have a routine for that too!
Everyday, son buzzes the intercom to our apartment when he get’s home.
‘Mom, I just got off the bus’, he’d say. ‘Did you watch me?’
Sometimes I do and sometimes I am too busy. When I got busy, I say, ‘you’re home so fast!’.
‘Ha, ha, ha! I am coming up now‘ is what he’ll reply, triumphant that his mom ‘lost’ a point.
He takes the elevator, dragging his strolley bag behind him and I stand by the door with a baby in my arm or so and will spring the door open just as he is reaching our door with a big grin on my face as if making up for not watching him get off the bus.
Most day’s, he comes in running and shouting, ‘move outta my way. Emergency emergency’ leaving the bag in the doorway and kicking off his shoes as he enters. He has to go to the toilet. And his little toddler of a sister will say, ‘Uh-oh Uh-oh‘ just as she has been taught by her brother. Other days, when he has had a bad day or is tired he comes in slowly with shoulders slumped, dragging his feet and very quiet. ‘Ooh somebody’s had a hard day‘ and a kiss later we are both on the couch or he is in his room fiddling with some toy. ‘Did you eat all of your lunch‘ is what I will ask. Lunch is something that always triggers conversation. Husband and I take turns making his lunch. Some mornings, I am busy with the girls and some mornings I am the one making it. He is always full of praise for his dad as though encouraging him for his hard work. Interestingly, I am the one who doesn’t get it right each time. ‘Mom, you gave me a square… You know I hate square sandwhiches!’ he’d say. Or there is, ‘Don’t give me nuggets pleeeeeese. All the boys want them and I get to have only a few‘. ‘Ouchie! Okay… I’ll remember‘ I say.
When he is in a sad mood, I send him off for a bath. He loves water and usually he has to be dragged out. That always gets him to be pleasant again. When he is already pleasant, I ask him to ‘relax and play’ while I get his lunch together. That takes 20minutes and then I ask him to change his dress. While I am in the kitchen, since I have let him to do what he desired, he is more relaxed. He is in and out of the kitchen telling me his day or asking questions. During luch we don’t talk about homework or school. I try to keep the conversation about my day and how I goofed up or what naughtiness his sisters did or some wild idea that I had for him. After lunch, I let him relax and play again but this is the time I ask him about homework and assignments and what his teacher plans for the week. He usually hands me his agenda or schedule while playing. After half an hour, it is time to study. I am lucky in that my son loves homework. I just have to remind him and he will do it on his own. The reason he does it so eagerly is because there is computer time after he is done with ‘paperwork’, as we call it. He gets assignments and weekly tests online and he has to finish his books before he gets to do those. Then there are additional ‘resources’ that he has to look into. By the time he is done with or is doing his computer assignments, his dad gets home. Then, they all get to go out.
I think there are 5 things you should always ask your child when he/she gets home.
- How was their day. The answer is almost always ‘okay’. Then, watch the tone and the look of them. Gloom, stress, anxiety, excitement. Don’t try to find out what went wrong right away. Wait. Wait for the right time.
- Did they enjoy lunch. That’s the way you find out if they have enough energy in them or not. No, energy means you are in a danger zone. Don’t find out about what happened yet.
- How was the teacher. What did he do. This question will tell you if the problem lies with the teacher. And mostly, they will intermittently and slowly tell you about what they did that day.
- How is the best friend or best foe. Every child has atleast one of each. There has to be someone they dislike or somone who gets on their nerves. This will tell you if they fought, laughed or irrtated each other. This will let you peek into his thoughts and know about his social life at school.
- What he did on the bus or what his friend did on the bus or how was his way home. Most of the time, I have found the reason they get home in a bad mood or too tired is because of what happened on the way home. Bullying or teasing, weather, the driver, too tired to sit so fell asleep. Asking them about after school time also let’s you know if ther has been any bullying and how he gets along with others who are not his age. It also lets you know about what all they learn or pick up when not in direct adult supervision.
As parents, when we send children out of our homes to study or otherwise, more than knowing what they are learning, what is important, is to know how they are being treated and who they consider as friends. You can test their learning but you cannot test their reasoning and safety. There is more to education than learning to read and write. But there is nothing more than knowing your child is safe and healthy and that he can make the right decisions in your absense. Don’t we all want that for our children?
How do you connect with your chid after school?