Let's get physical.

I’m beginning to think Henry’s preschool teacher doesn’t like him.

I know what you’re thinking. “Someone not like Henry? Impossible! I will hurry to her classroom and beat some sense into her!” And so I am glad I never told you which school he goes to, because I’m beginning to think you’re a little nuts. That said, I am also puzzled as to how someone could not like Henry. Yes, he can be… challenging. He knows what he wants, and he’s not easily swayed. Sometimes his motives are baffling; there’s a lot more going on in his head than he lets on. Also, he can be shy in group situations. I can imagine that when you’re faced with eleven children clamoring for your attention, the enigma in the corner might not be your favorite.

But my God, woman! Have you seen his cheeks? Have you ever looked into those blue eyes of his? Have you no soul?

He got through his transition into the World of Preschool with flying colors. But then, about a week later, whenever I arrived to pick him up, the teacher would greet me with this preschool-teacher frowny face that made me want to kick her. When I asked her what was wrong, I invariably got such comments as:

“Henry was a little sad today.”

“Henry was low-energy.”

“Henry didn’t want his snack.”

“Henry was low-energy, and sad.”

“Henry was a little…quiet today.” Frowny face. “I think he was tired. And he wouldn’t eat.”

You have to imagine all of this conveyed in this high, babyish, mock-sad voice. I’m not sure why she does that. Because oh, the urge to kick.

Anyway. So, okay. My child is apparently sad! And tired! That’s not her fault, is it? That doesn’t mean she hates him? Although when he gets home, he’s whirling about the apartment like they gave him crack! Except, whoops, that couldn’t have happened, because according to his teacher he’s a certified snack-hater.

I didn’t think too much of this the two teacher’s assistants came up to me after class, and told me what a delight he is. “He sings the Star Wars theme all day! He’s so cuddly and affectionate and funny!” “Yes, yes,” I panted, “Give me more.” They handed me a list of various things he had said throughout the day. Apparently he spent the day shouting, “Surrender, Earthlings!” They found this hilarious. Because they’re human.

Then the teacher walked by, and I said, “He had a good day, huh?”

Frowny face. “Well…” she sighed. “It was hot in the room. Everyone was a little low-energy. It wasn’t just him.”

After that I just avoided her at the end of the day. But I couldn’t help but notice, when I dropped him off, that her behavior toward him was a little… chilly. I wouldn’t say she was cold, but there was a definite nip in the air. One morning, he was unhappy, and I didn’t want to leave until I got him settled in. The teacher headed for him. I waited for her to join him, and instead she gave him a tight smile, and then turned and sat down with two other children, who were already playing with one of the assistants.

And at the last pick-up, she approached me. “Henry was very physical today. We had a physical day,” she said. Oh, I thought, she’s telling me there was a lot of running and jumping and playing? So I should put him down for a long nap?

“Yes,” she said, “there was a lot of pushing and shoving and bossing around the other kids.” “HENRY? WE’RE TALKING ABOUT HOW YOU HAD A PHYSICAL DAY, DIDN’T YOU? REMEMBER, WITH THE PUSHING AND THE SHOVING? AND WE DON’T DO THAT AT SCHOOL.”

On the way out, I said to him, “So you were pushing other kids?”

“I had to,” he said. “She told me not to yell.”

His logic is impeccable. What choice did the boy have?

Of course, on the one hand, I’m glad to know he was “physical,” and I don’t fault her for sharing a concern, blah blah blah, but on the other hand, would it kill her to once share something positive with me? One thing? Would the turning of the frown into the upside-down position cause her pain?