Trouble on the Bus

Last week the girls received their first official report of bad behavior. They’ve both gotten the occasional report of an instance that hasn’t gone well at school or daycare during the day but nothing more than a casual mention from a teacher. Typically, I hear nothing but good things about them. I’m certainly not the mom who thinks her kids are perfect. Lord knows they push their boundaries at home like it’s their job but outside of mother-daughter interaction they generally good kids.

Or at least that’s what I thought until this week when I received an official incident report that they had both been wildly acting out on the bus to aftercare and were in danger of being kicked off. The aftercare director who gave me the report followed up by letting me know that they have been having a problem with their listening at the center too. It was a lot to process.

Here I thought everything was going well. Maddie had received the star student award for good behavior in the classroom the week before. Riley has received a glowing report from her teacher about being her class helper in a check in earlier in a week. Now, they were an ongoing problem with a very real consequence.

On the way home that day the girls got a very, very long lecture. It was followed by their list of consequences. No TV or videos, no allowance, and no candy until they receive consistently good reports. If there’s whining, chores and a lecture will follow. Finally, Riley lost the privilege of playing with all of her new birthday toys.

As soon as we got home, Riley started packing up her toys. She pointed out the ones I missed. She told me where to put them so she couldn’t get them. They both sat down at the table before me to review the bus behavior guidelines. Something I told them we would be doing daily. Unprompted, Riley drew the bus driver a picture of her sitting in her seat on the bus with “I’m sorry” written above it. On the car ride home I had convinced myself that I had missed something and there was a huge behavior problem that I hadn’t seen. This, however, wasn’t the behavior of bad kids.

After talking with the both of them I learned that Riley was having a bit of a tough time sharing her after school space with her sister, that Maddie had never heard of bus rules before, and that they were not given assigned seats the way other elementary school age kids were to avoid this type of behavior.

Now, there is no excuse for their behavior and the consequences are still very real. At least, though, there were reasons behind it that made a lot more sense than just that they were being bad. After all, even good kids make mistakes.