Sunday, March 30, 2008

Church Embarrassment

We all know the trials of the "PK"s. You know, the kids of the church employees, including pastors, who are the worst behaved kid in the church. Well, Noah is truly a PK to the nth degree. Here's our wonderful experience from church today.

The background: Two of my three groups performed this morning. I direct the Youth Chimes and Ada Chimes. Tone Chimes are a WAAAYYY less expensive and hardier way to create a bell choir. About five years ago, I asked our organist why, if our church was as affluent as it is, we don't have a hand bell choir. Her answer was "Because we don't have anyone to direct it and they are very expensive" So with my big mouth, I said, "What about tone chimes? I could direct it if we had them."

The next fall our church had purchased tone chimes, the same organist had petitioned to have me become a paid staff member and Ada Chimes was begun.

Two years ago, our Wednesday night program for the 4th-8th graders was starting to dwindle. Our numbers were close to nothing and the curriculum left something to be desired. Another mom and I started talking about ways to rejuvenate the program. I suggested a youth chime group as part of the Wednesday program. That fall, Youth Chimes was born. Our core group averages between 11-15 kids every week. We have youth that technically have "aged out" but still return because it is fun. I have come to love the group of young people.

The third group I direct is the Cherub Choir. It is 5 year olds - 2nd grade singers. This is my third year with that group but the first year with Noah in it. This is actually where this big long story begins...and ends. For your viewing pleasure, here is a picture of their performance earlier this year. Noah is the smiling one right with the red collar in front of the microphone.

Noah swore up and down (not literally) that he would NOT be in choir. I kind of downplayed it and when it came to start this year, I just sat him down and began the rehearsal. He has done pretty well, BUT....he has truly acted out the part of the PK each rehearsal.

As you have heard in this and this post, he is an AMAZING singer. That is why I have encouraged him. Plus, his music class at school really leaves something to be desired. (It's really bad). So I have encouraged him to participate.

So this morning was the Cherub Choir's last performance until Fall. My idea was to have them play tone chimes while they were singing. They have been practicing for a VERY long time and sounding pretty good. We spent A LOT of time practicing how to walk with the instrument, how to play it, and especially where to stand after we walk up. In order for the song to sound right, they HAD to be in order.

After our practice this morning, they lined perfectly, as they have each performance all year. As they were walking to the front of the sanctuary to perform, SOMEHOW, they got all goofed up. I realized after they got up there and it HAD to be fixed. So, for me, it felt like hours while I was trying to get them in order while the entire congregation was sitting and watching. AAGGGHHH!!!!!!!!

As they were almost ready, the entire congregation quiet, Noah shouts out "MOM, CAN WE START YET?" I snapped my fingers at him to be quiet (mind you, I was in front of the church) and the congregation actually laughed. I don;t know if they were laughing at me or that I got him under control (which is what a few moms told me afterward) while the whole world was watching. Either way is NOT good.

I don't know if I have ever been that angry or embarrassed in church before. The performance went off without a hitch after that. As a matter off fact, it was VERY good.

But I still can't seem to let go of it.

When I got his report card Friday, it included a letter from BOTH of his specials teachers about Noah talking too much and showing off for the other kids. The problem is that the naughty kids are the ones who react and then Noah gets the reaction he is looking for, therefore getting in more trouble. He doesn't want to befriend the "good kids" because they don't laugh when he shows off. I don't know how to make him want to impress the "good" kids. He gets more attention the other way. His Kindergarten teacher has told me that the first grade teacher is worried about having him in her class next year. Not something any mom wants to hear. I just don't know what to do.

At the beginning of the year, he was quite aggressive. He would throw things if he got mad and yell when he was frustrated. He does not display any of this kind of behavior anymore. He has improved massively.

I am struggling because, yes, his behavior is SOOO much better, but it still needs to be fixed. How do I continue to praise him for the improvement and yet make it clear that his behavior is still not acceptable. I do not believe he has ADD or ADHD, but there is something in him that needs to be "fixed". The attention seeking behavior is the root of it all. If we could beat that, I think our battle would be won. Have I created these problems in my raising of him? He reminds us A LOT of my brother in so many ways and my brother is one of the smartest guys I have ever known. He also has a successful career and family life. So I know Noah will be successful someday. But I want him to feel successful now, too.

Friday I was crying about his behavior, yet again, in front of him when I realized where some of the biggest frustration lies. I was talking to him and I found myself saying, "The reason I am so sad is that I know what an amazing boy you are, but when you never stop talking and showing off in front of other kids, it doesn't let others see that amazing boy." I think that is the core of my frustration. I want others to see this remarkable kid but that is not what comes out so much of the time.

Wow! What started out as a post about church this morning turned into, yet again, a ramble about Noah. That always seems to happen.

I don't know if anyone is even reading this anymore, but if you are, I would love your feedback. Please comment on this one. I need all the help I can get.


Debbie Yost said...


I'm sorry you are struggling with Noah. I wish I had some kind of advice, but I don't. I have not really dealt with anything like this with my children. Sometimes it just all gets to be too much for us and we need to vent. Get a good nights rest and hopefully tomorrow will seem a little brighter. He is young. As he gets older he will mature and learn to control his behavior better. My oldest often cried at t every little thing. She is 11 now and still can be very emotional, but it is better. We recently had her evaluated for ADD and the doctor did not think she had ADD. He said that many of her problems were a result of immaturity. She is one of the youngest in her class. He said to be patient, it will come with time. I will keep you and Noah in my prayers.

Chrissy said...

Honestly, I don't know what to tell you. I can tell how frustrated you are about not being able to have the impact on his behavior that you would like, but from what I've read you're doing everything right. All I can say is just keep being the supportive and involved mom that you are and maybe things will continue to improve a little at a time. Hang in there!

LadyBugCrossing said...

I found you through Karen over at Pediascribe.

My now 15 year old was very much like your Noah when he was younger. We put him in very structured activities - Karate was the best one. He learned that you need to behave. He learned that you can't show off whenever you want. He learned oh so many lessons.

My #1 is very bright. He is funny. He is sweet. He still has trouble keeping his mouth shut. So be it.

If the worst thing he does is talk in class - whatever.

As for that teacher who is worried about having him in her class - I'd be worried about putting my child in her class. Find a different teacher. She is already biased. No matter what he does or doesn't do - it will be his fault.

Now - the chime thing. I direct handbell choirs - one at a church and one at a school. Better the audience laughs... trust me. It was cute - admit it... Mom - can we start? OMG! That's adorable. Relax and have fun.

I'll be back for more reading!!

Anonymous said...

Jake and Emma sang together for the first time yesterday and it was...uh...interesting. What we thought was embarrassing, the congregation loved. Once I stepped back, I realized that considering their ages, they did awesome. While speaking out at that moment might seem frustrating right now, just be happy that he didn't continue his own little show DURING the song...

I'm with LBC, what the 1st grade teacher said was totally inappropriate and then for the K teacher to tell you about it...jeez...what was she hoping to accomplish??

I would sit down and talk with the teachers (both K and 1st) and start a dialog about how you can work together to change things. Don't let them guilt you.

I also really like the karate suggestion. My husband took karate for many years and he credits it for being one of the reasons he is still able to keep level headed in situations...and he hasn't actuall done karate in about 20 years. That's just how long the effects are.

I am now done with this marathon comment.

Courtney said...

I don't really know what to tell you except I cannot believe his teacher told you about the first grade teacher. Keep encouraging the good behavior. Talk to him about it. Taylor is not quite 4 and when problems arise, we get her input and try to fix it. It seems to work. Also, I did a sticker chart for Taylor with different rewards for good behavior. Do you think that might work? If you need any ideas about the sticker chart, let me know.

daisy said...

Oh, yes...I came to thank you for visiting my blog, but I found myself drawn in here. I had a son whose behavior caused me to find myself in embarrassing situations occasionally, too.

My own solution, which may or may not work for you, was that I gave him positive attention (getting excited, praising, lots of interaction) the most when he showed improvement in behavior that I wanted him to have. When he acted out, I gave him this deadpan face with no overreaction, but he still had consequences based on his actions. I had to keep them in proportion to his age, of course.

He had his own unique personality, and he has complementing gifts that came along with it. But my job was to direct him without squelching that delightful spirit. I had to run interference between him and his teachers, supporting him when I could, letting him know how much I loved him, and allowing him to be disciplined when needed.

Honesty with your son and honesty with his teachers will take you out of the middle, trying to please both sides. I used to take on all this shame, thinking it was my fault. It wasn't. I had to let go of my fear of what everyone thought, and just do what I thought was best. He'll come around, but he needs those boundaries, enforced with reasonable consequences.

It's a tough job, Kristi! Parenting is not for cowards. Hang in there!

Childlife said...

You know who's behavior in this post startled me? Those teachers! What is that kindergarten teacher thinking in talking negatively about her students to the first grade teacher? Her job is to meet the educational needs of her students not to bias your child's future teacher's opinion against him. Why would that first grade teacher have any concerns about him at all unless the kindergarten teacher is prejudicing her? She's setting him up to fail and that's beyond unfair.

I don't think there's a thing wrong with Aaron, Kristi... he's a bright, smart, outgoing kid. And it will serve him well once he learns how to channel that energy in a constructive way. There is nothing wrong with your parenting either. Kids are kids and it's obvious by his response to your correction to him in church that you are raising your children to be obedient. I think you're doing a fine job... those teachers on the other hand...