My 4-Year-Old’s Rationale for Getting a Time-Out at School: He Was Just Misunderstood

Earlier this week, my son, 4¾ years old, announced as we were driving in the car, “Mama, I never get in trouble at school.”  But, yesterday, he and the 4¾-year-old twins I babysit were so hyped up, as we neared the end of their preschool-class bowling playdate, that I feared for their teachers. 

So, after my son returned from school, I casually asked, “Did you get in trouble at school today?”

“I got a time-out.”

“Why?”

“I’m not going to tell you.”

“I thought I was your best friend.”

“You are my best friend, but I’m not going to tell you.”

We have our best talks at night, after we finish reading books and snuggle for a few minutes before he goes to sleep, so last night, I asked again, “Why did you get a time-out today?”

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Well, I can find out from Mrs. C.  Wouldn’t you rather I hear it from you?”

“OK.  I’ll tell you.  Charlie thought I was shooting.  Well, everyone thought I was shooting.  But I was just making noises with my band-aid.”

“What band-aid?”

“You know that red stuff?  Blood?”

“Yes.”

“My thumb had that red stuff—blood—on it,” he said dramatically, as if he’d cut an artery, “so Mrs. L gave me a band-aid.  And, I was just making noises with my band-aid.”

Here, he whispered, “And, I said ‘I’m shooting you.  You’re dead.’”

He paused, then continued in his normal voice, “But I was just kidding.  I was just being funny.  Remember at the Halloween party?  The guy walking on stilts?  That was funny.”

So, the bottom line is that my poor son was simply misunderstood.  He demonstrated for me how he pumped his left thumb, the one that was bleeding and therefore covered in a band-aid, making “be-be-be-be-be” noises, then saying, “I’m shooting you.” 

But, the “be-be-be-be-be” noises weren’t shooting sounds, just the soundtrack he was innocently making to coincide with the equally innocent trigger-like motion of his innocent, injured, band-aided thumb.

And, when he said, “I’m shooting you,” he was just kidding because he’s a budding comedian.

My son, who has previously owned up to all misbehavior, was this time positioning himself as a victim, turned in to his teacher by classmates who had jumped to conclusions.

I called him on it. 

Knowing he was caught, he cried and said, “I’m never going to school again.”

He did go to school today.  And, today, he didn’t get a time out.  Or so he says.

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