No Star Stamps for Little J :-(

J just finished his first week of toddler class. While his first day went without a hitch and ended with two star stamps to show off to Daddy, sadly, Day 2 didn't go as smoothly.

Mommy's first mistake: letting J run around the play area because we got to school early. Mommy's second mistake: not giving J a snack instead of letting him run around the play area. Result? Rambunctious J, not behaving during class because he was hungry and a bit tired already.

I watched from outside the classroom as my son kept standing up while the lesson was going on, didn't follow the teacher's instructions and generally kept digging at the class art supplies instead of paying attention. He also didn't participate in the lesson by repeating the new words they were learning.

But when the time came for the teacher to start giving out the star stamps, J snapped to attention, sat down in his chair and placed his hands on the table in expectation of the stamp from the teacher. He was so excited. When the teacher asked who wanted stamps for the day, J said very loudly, "Co-cob!" and pointed to the back of his hand. The teacher walked around the room and picked out select students who behaved and participated for the day. After each stamp, she would ask again, who else would get stamps and I watched as my son called out, "Tee, Co-cob!" (Tee = teacher) while pointing to his hand.

Now, while the teacher in me knew J didn't deserve a stamp for the day, the mother in me willed with all my might for the teacher to walk to my little boy and put a star stamp on his hand. Oh, how my heart broke when the teacher announced that there were no more stamps for the day and my little boy realized that he wasn't getting one. I am almost embarrassed to admit that I had to hold back tears at the thought of my son not getting the star he so badly wanted.

I understood the concept of the stamps and how they're used to reinforce good behavior in kids, so I broke my rule of leaving him with only his yaya during class and went to him to explain to him why he didn't get a stamp for that day. I also told him the things that he should do if he wanted to get a stamp in the next class: sit in his chair, obey the teacher and participate in class.

I never really thought that a star stamp would mean so much to me, until I saw how much my son wanted one.

As I mulled it over, I came to a realization. It wasn't about the stamp. It was about the fact that for the first time in his life, J wanted something and I couldn't get it for him.

Mind you, that doesn't mean that I think my son should get everything he wants. I definitely don't think that the teacher should have given J a stamp because his behavior during class didn't deserve one. But the thing is, I'm a parent. And like all the other parents of the world, I think that my son is one of the two most awesome kids on the planet. For the first time, my son didn't measure up to someone's expectations, so much so that he didn't get something he wanted and got disappointed as a result.

As parents, we always want to spare our kids from everything: from pain, sadness, illness and all the painful realities of life. It's irrational and impossible, but you still want to be able to do it anyway. You know that it's through these experiences that they learn and grow to become better people, because that's how you grew and became a better person. However, you wish for your kids' sake that it didn't have to feel so bad.

That day, as I stood there watching my son experience his first brush with disappointment, I was confronted with the harsh truth that I wouldn't be able to shield J from life. There are still so many things that he'll have to go through. It's painful to realize that this was only going to be the first of many times that my son would fail at something and I wouldn't be able to do anything about it, except watch with a heavy heart, help him bear the disappointment and encourage him to do better next time.

I realize that I may not always be there when he falls, and that I should allow him to make mistakes but he can be sure that I'll be there to help him back up, even when helping him back up means stepping aside to let him get back up on his own.

To my J and Little C, mistakes and failures are nothing but steps closer to your ultimate goals. We all have those moments, but what will define us as people is how we deal with the pains of life. But always know that Mommy's in your corner to be your number one fan and own personal Blue Babble Battalion. I love you both heaps and heaps!

Happy weekend, mommies! Watch out for a belated post on J's first day of school. :)


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