We had a couple weeks of tough behavior coming from Jackson, which after a lot of prodding came out as frustrations and difficulties he'd been having with school. The school...oh, this school. My nephew has learned to politely say that certain foods are not his favorite when he's faced with something he intensely dislikes, so I've taken a lesson from him and I'll just say that this school is not my favorite. I don't want to generalize about an entire country--it's hard to say which frustrations simply stem from differences in educational philosophy that I would find at any school here, or which ones are related to this school in particular...either way, it has been a challenging experience to find a well of patience deep enough to get through the school year.
Throwing a juice box at someone is admittedly not the best choice, but I would expect more out of someone in a position of authority than to demean a child by using such an insult. Again, I'd like to not chalk this up to being reflective of Australian culture as a whole, but when I told another Australian about this incident, he said that when he was a kid, his teacher wrote on the board "Idiot 1", "Idiot 2", and "Idiot 3", and would have children stand under those labels if they were misbehaving.
Simply opening up about his feelings has helped Jackson tremendously--he also took the initiative to speak to his teacher about his feelings towards the principal. This all coincided with being able to choose his own project for this school term; I thought this was a great opportunity for him to get engaged with something he was interested in. The boys spend many a pre-bedtime evening sitting in a dark room listening to Sam read the Lord of the Rings books by headlamp, so he decided to make Bilbo Baggins' hut. Jackson's interest waxed and waned throughout the development and creation of the project, but he had an undeniably proud grin on his face as we carried the hut in all its paper mache glory into his classroom.
Since then, his attitude has changed; he is striving to be Student of the Week and is making a concerted effort to be helpful in the classroom. He and Alex both will still freely express frustration and dislike for their school, but it doesn't seem to be a dark cloud hanging over every moment like it was for a while there.
Just this morning as we walked to school, Jackson said, "I'm just taking it week by week, Mom. That's the only way I'm going to get through this school year." Wise words, kiddo.