The boy got in trouble at school the other day. There was allegedly a play dough incident involving my son and three other children, The play dough in question--color unspecified--was strewn about the eponymous table and onto the floor.
Play dough: Check. Strewn: Check. Sounds like the boy may have been involved.
His pre-school teacher is mild-mannered to the point of comatose tapioca, so I knew it was pretty bad because when we spoke, she had her eyebrows. Raised. Both of them. And she held them there for most of the conversation.
Heres how it went down:
The teacher came over to scold the group of salty, doughy, scalawags.
"If you're going to do that with the play dough and not clean-up, then there will be no more playing with the play dough." His teacher admonished.
The boy, self-appointed group spokesperson, responded:
"I don't care what you say because I have other places I can play with play dough." Ooooohhh!
This is something to be addressed in my house. We don't truck with that kind of sass or hold with any backtalk. We will not listen to that mouth, tolerate such disrespect for his elders, put up with that attitude, or condone such nonsense. There will be no mouthing off, no giving of guff, lip, or any other item that could be associated with insolence. See middle finger, stuck-out tongue, et al.
The wound caused by this snotty rebellion is compounded by the fact that my wife is a teacher. High school. This is what she said to the boy:
"Do you know what I do when my students talk to me like that?"
He shakes his head no.
"I don't do anything because my students wouldn't dare."
Scary shit. I think one of us actually peed our pants. Possibly him. Me.
He was pretty upset by the whole thing. He's quite a sweet, empathetic boy. He also constantly rages against windmills, tilts against the machine, and other common phetamors. I don't blame him.
As we all can agree, authority figures must be perpetually challenged and questioned, even in times of prosperity and happiness, because if not they become complacent and then abuse that authority. I don't know where he gets it.
I can't wait until his first walkout. I remember mine. Fifth grade. I got into it with a substitute and the subsequent exchange led her to declare in front of the entire class that, "You don't think in school, you do what you're told!" Not her finest moment. Not mine, either. Imagine how hard I had to push that poor woman to get her to say something that silly. I laughed and repeated what she said and then, dumb head held high, I strode from the room down to the familiar confines of the Principal's office. I sucked. Come to think of it, that was probably not my first walk out that year. In the first one I made it all the way home. I may still hold the detention record in for that grade. I really sucked*.
Like I said, I don't know where the boy gets it. I don't want that for him. Class clown antics disguised as righteous indignation. The constant questioning, yes. Absolutely. Not at four years old maybe, and not over cleaning up his play dough, but still.
I just want him to have enough respect to question politely, and then if dissatisfied with the double talk that the MAN is laying down, come home and talk to us, his parents--the alpha and omega of authority figures--about it before flying off the handle. Before you laugh, shake your head, and mutter, "Good Luck, paper plate face," let me tell you, I think we have a chance. In the home of my youth, a formal education was not considered important, necessary, or even respectable. In my family, we learned our Algebra on the streets, and we liked it. We failed it, but we still liked it.
Not the same here. Like I said, my wife's a teacher. High School. Disadvantaged urban (speaking of double talk) school at that. We gonna do our book learnin' 'round heah.
He wasn't eager to return to school the next day. I told him he could stay home if he was planning on going directly for a nap. Classic playtime embargo. He went, tiny shoulders bowed, soles of his sandals scraping the sidewalk. Heavy is the burden of the Pre-School rabble rouser. Protestin' ain't easy. His teacher said the day went well.
It's going to be a trust thing, in the end. If he trusts that we're listening and that we respect his opinions and have his best interests at heart, then we'll trust that he's not staging a walk-out over his teacher's bourgeois notion of how markers should be used only on things not breathing and covered with skin.
God save us all.
*When his grandfather was a boy, he staged a sit-in in his own high-school cafeteria. I forget the why of it. That story is a legend that the old man would be happy to blow the dust from, were he present. Nope, don't know where the boy gets it from. Must be the fluoridated water.