Last week, instead of the typical boisterous talking and skipping/running down the sidewalk, E trudged from the bus stop to our house. When asked how her day was, she said, "It was terrible and my teacher hates me." Well. Probably not true but it seemed true to her. (Sidenote: her "real" kindergarten teacher has been out on medical leave for the last several weeks and I have not met the substitute teacher. Regardless, I doubt she is a hater of children.)
When we sat to talk about it, E explained that after she completed one of the centers in class, she went to color at the coloring center and was told that the rule is they can only color on Fridays. She was then told to "pull a strip", which in her class is their system of discipline. E claims she didn't even know this was a rule. When she pulls a strip, the only thing that really happens is the teacher writes "S" in her folder with the number of the strip pulled (#2), I look on the list of strips that #2 means "did not follow rules" and then it is up to E to convey to me what happened. It is usually a reasonable explanation, we talk about how to do things differently next time, and it isn't that big a deal.
Well, it isn't that big a deal to me. I know that E is a great kid and generally doesn't do things to be naughty on purpose. But this was a big deal to her. So big she thought her teacher didn't like her as a person. As an adult, I can see the big picture that this isn't a big deal and her teacher probably won't even remember that E pulled a strip last week. But E is only (almost) six. She can't see ten years in the future- things that happen now are a big deal. It made me think how often I have the same mindset. I have a bad day at work, and I feel like a failure. I have a bad day as a parent, and I put more money in their future therapy fund. It can be very easy to let a little blip in my day to blow up in my mind. I have a feeling God looks at me frequently and wonders why I let such small matters color my outlook on my whole life, just like I view E's problems.
I sat E down with her folder and we looked at how many days she pulled a strip and how many days she did not. While pulling a strip was such a day destroyer to her, she has not pulled a strip on over 95% of her days. She seemed to feel better looking at the big picture and went skipping off to play. Maybe the next time I have a bad day, I'll remember to look at the big picture and say, "It's just one day."