We really wanted the talmud torah to work. For all sorts of reasons. But it's just not working out for David. His behavior has become so bad that Kinneret and I fight it out to decide who will pick him up because we are afraid to face the teacher and get the bad report. It's too embarassing.
The truth is that he's ususally well behaved in school. We apologize profusely to the talmud torah teacher and profess our bewilderment why a kid who has never had problems in day care, school or camp is suddenly misbehaving and worse yet acting disrespectfully toward the teachers. Everytime I utter these words to the teacher I imagine him about to roll his eyes and thinking to himself, "another out-of-touch parent who thinks his kid is a perfect angel." (Actually the teacher is very apologetic about our many apologies and he says there is no reason for us to apologize.) But really, David is generally otherwise very quiet and behaved in educational settings. (Sometimes I even wish he would act out a bit or be naughty in class.)
If I had to take some guesses I'd say that the root of the problem could be:
- He has a very long day; or,
- He is bored because he is more advanced than the other children (because of his backround and home reinforcement ); or,
- The environment is too informal; or,
- A combination of the above.
Or maybe the problem is us and this is simply another instance of us not disciplining him properly?
* * *
A recent comment thread on Orthonomics went off on a tangent in response to a parent who reported that his son's school is unable to deal with the boy's suspected learning and behavioral issues. It was clear to most commenters--myself included--that there was no good reason for the boy to remain in this school and that in fact his interests were being harmed by his continued presence there.
Of course it's easy to dish out armchair advice to someone else, however when I step back for a moment should it be obvious that the time has come for us to take David out of talmud torah as well? At some level I am reluctant to do so because this means that he wins. It becomes yet another notch in his belt in his power struggle with us. Part of me wants to keep him there out of a feeling that we need to make a concerted stand and tame him. Yes, I'm well aware that this is the wrong reason to keep in the talmud torah--parenting isn't about "winning." There are some other (perhaps not entirely compelling) reasons to keep him in the talmud torah. But where exactly is that fine line that guides us how far we should go to try and work out the behavior issue (and for how long) before we pull him?