A woman realizes her son has not yet gotten out of bed for school. She goes into his bedroom and tells him to get up or he will miss breakfast. ”No,” the son replies. “I don’t wanna go to school!” ”You HAVE to go to school,” the mother scolds.
“No! The kids are mean to me, the teachers don’t like me, and the lunches are icky.” ”You WILL go to school, young man,” the mother warns. ”Why? Why do I have to go to school today?” the son asks. The mother is about to lose her patience: “Because you’re the principal, now get out of bed!”
Yes, that’s sort of what happened during my cruise. Only I wasn’t home with my son—and it was my kindergarten-age son that ditched school! I NEVER expected that one! Yes, while I was on my husband’s birthday cruise experiencing karaoke and all kinds of adventures, my children were at home in Utah, one having adventures of his own!
My high school-age daughter is sharp, efficient, independent and always has been. (She could run our home and family smoothly by the time she was in 5th grade without my help, but I’m thankful she lets me hang around to attempt to do my part!) While we were gone, she had everything under control—drove her siblings to daycare and school, went to school herself, picked up her siblings after school, supervised them, fed them, helped with homework, cleaned the house, did the laundry, and took care of everything related to the running of the family in my absence. My children were in good hands. And then I got an unexpected email. (We couldn’t get phone service on our cruise.) The email reported certain delinquent behavior…of my kindergartener!
Apparently, he’d been dropped off at school by his daycare (like he is every day) and headed through the doors of the school. Before my son went into his classroom, however, he decided he didn’t “feel” like going to school that day so he and a friend who also didn’t feel like going to school that day, headed off on an adventure. While I’ve never had a child do something like that and never expected to have one do something like that, thank goodness I live in Utah and thank goodness I have good neighbors! Mid-afternoon my neighbor was driving in the town next to ours…and saw my son walking on the side of the road! She picked him up, took him home and kept him until my daughter got home from school.
By the time I was able to reach my children by phone, my daughter had handled it: she had marched her brother to the school office to tell the principal what he had done and apologize for his poor choice; she had taken him home, grounded him from playing with friends and had taken away some other privileges as a consequence of his wrong decision; she had talked to him about his behavior AND called her older college-age brother to come home for a visit that evening to talk to the offender, again, about family expectations regarding school attendance. By the time I finally got to speak with my youngest son, he was very penitent; but I reiterated my impression of his incorrect choice and behavior again anyway, just to make sure there would NEVER be a repeat occurrence!
Kindergarten delinquent. (For a day.) WHO raises a child like that? Apparently, me. And given what we’ve lived through, holding myself back from over-reacting is a struggle. It’s a challenge for me, sometimes, to remain calm about it all. I have to make the effort to refrain from panicking. Sometimes I have to mentally calm myself down before reacting to what I once deemed “typical” childhood learning experiences (telling a lie, stealing a coin or a piece of candy or other similar behaviors.) I’m desperate for my children to avoid the mistakes made by their other parent. I’ll never give up my quest to teach my children to make correct choices, to be obedient, to follow the rules and to grow up to be honest, good, law abiding citizens that are a force for good in the world—especially given the example set by someone else once close to them.
“Hey, Cameron. You realize if we played by the rules right now we’d be in gym?” (Ferris Bueller, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”)