Do you ever wonder what colorful stories your children might be telling their teachers? Have you ever been curious about the ‘interesting’ parts of our day-to-day lives that our kids might be sharing while they’re at school?
Whenever I ponder this, I always flash back to one morning when I was volunteering in Cal’s classroom. As I sat at a table assembling and stapling book order forms, the students gathered around their teacher to discuss what would be happening at school that day. When she asked if anyone had any questions, I couldn’t help but notice a little boy sitting right at the front of the group who was waiving his hand around in the air and giving her the ‘Call on me! Call on me!’ eyes.
He looked so desperate to speak that I had to resist the urge to call out his name myself. Clearly there was something really important that he just had to share with everyone. His body was rocking from side to side as he tried to get his teacher’s attention. Finally, she called on him to share whatever life-or-death matter was on his mind.
“This morning…when we were driving to school….this car…this other car cut in front of us…that’s what my daddy said…he cut in front of us…and it was NOT nice and my daddy was NOT happy….like, really NOT HAPPY…and…and…” He was breathing heavily and panting as he tried to get the words out fast enough.
“Ok, let’s slow down and maybe calm down a little bit,” the teacher said to him in a soothing voice. “Maybe you could tell me the rest when -”
“But then we were right behind the mean car…and…and…my daddy…my dad…he was so mad that this guy was not nice…and a bad driver…a REALLY bad driver because he cut in front of our car and he could have HIT us…that my daddy…my daddy…he called him an -”
“Ok!” Cal’s teacher interrupted, desperate to stop the rest of the story before the little boy had a chance to say whatever jazzy word his father had blurted out in the car. I was feeling rather disappointed. I really wanted to hear what happened next.
I chuckled to myself as I continued stapling papers. If I had a dime for every time I said a four-letter word in the car and foolishly thought that my kids hadn’t noticed, I’d be a gazillionaire. Every parent does it, whether they realize it or not. I don’t mean to throw out the A-word in front of them, but it just kind of slips out sometimes. Bad drivers have that affect on me.
Boy oh boy, I thought to myself. If that dad only knew that his little morning slip-up was being described in detail to his son’s entire class.
And then I froze in my seat. What kind of stories are my little darlings sharing with their teachers? What fascinating tidbits are they just bursting to tell anyone who will listen? It’s not that I have anything embarrassing or incriminating to hide….I mean, I’m a pretty straight-laced person, really….but everyone has details about their personal life that they don’t want spread around the local school. Everyone likes to maintain a little bit of privacy in their lives.
But I’m quickly learning that when you have three young children who notice everything and share with everyone, there’s no such thing as privacy.
A fine example of this is a recent entry in Cal’s writing journal at school. At the top of the page, he drew a very detailed picture of the inside of our house. In the basement, you can clearly see the three boys and Daddy playing some sort of video game in front of the television. It’s probably their favorite hockey game or something. And on the top level of the house, you can see a blonde woman sitting on something, her back hunched over as she looks down at an object in her hand.
“Cal, is that me?” I asked him.
“Yeah!” he answered, looking very proud of himself. “That’s you sitting on the toilet reading your book!”
“You drew me on the toilet?!” I couldn’t believe it. I mean, come on! Of all the places to draw me in the house, he chose to put me on the porcelain throne taking a dump? Really?!!
“Well, you’re always in there, so that’s why I put you in the bathroom,” he responded, smiling up at me sweetly.
“And what do those words say?” I asked him, pointing to a speech bubble next to my blonde head.
“Oh, that’s you telling us to be good and not to wrestle because you’re going to the bathroom again,” he said in a matter-of-fact tone. His teacher would have seen that picture. And probably the student teacher. And whoever else happened to be helping out in the classroom.
Just to set the record straight, I don’t spend all of my time in the bathroom. I may sneak in there now and then for a few seconds of peace and quiet, but what parent doesn’t? And when I do go in there, I don’t yell to my kids ‘be good and don’t wrestle’. At least, I don’t think I do. I can’t really remember. Maybe I said it once or twice. Oh, whatever.
The nice thing is, it’s not just me that they share embarrassing stories about. After a road trip to Edmonton, Finn told his friends on the playground that the best part of the ENTIRE weekend was when Daddy farted in the car a bunch of times on the way home. That’s right, forget all the fun stuff we did. Forget about the afternoon we spent at the amusement park. Forget about the lovely dinner that we had with our family. Forget about the ice cream sundaes that we treated them to on the ride home. Forget all of that. Evidently, the most memorable moment of the entire fun-filled weekend was when Daddy may (or may not….no comment here) have let a few farts rip in the car. Because, as I’ve said MANY times, nothing is funnier to little boys than smelly bodily functions.
And then there’s what happened last week. Cal and I were talking about his day at school when he mentioned that they were discussing emotions. His teacher asked the students to think about how they were feeling, pick out a smiley (or not-so-smiley) face that matched their current emotion, and then explain to everyone why they were feeling that way.
“So what face did you pick out?” I asked him.
“The really sad one with the tears coming out of the eyes,” he told me. A sudden rush of concern washed over me. He’s my little ball of sunshine. He’s usually so happy that he even does a little skip when he runs. I couldn’t remember him seeming sad or upset when I dropped him off at school that morning.
“Did something happen to you?” I asked him. “Was someone mean to you?” I could feel the mommy lioness rising up inside of me. No one upsets my little Cal.
“No,” he said, suddenly looking down.
“Then why were you sad?” I asked him.
“Well, I told my teacher and my friends that I was sad because when we were getting our shoes and coats on for school, you yelled ‘Go! Go! Go!’ and ‘Move faster!’ at us in your mad voice.”
Well, didn’t I just feel like the worst mother in the entire world.
“But, Cal, did you tell them that I only yelled in my mad voice because you guys wouldn’t get your shoes and coats on for school and I’d been asking you to get them on for over twenty minutes and you guys wouldn’t do it and we were going to be VERY late for school? Did you tell them any of that?” I asked him.
“No,” he answered, shrugging his shoulders.
“So….you just told them that I yelled that stuff at you and your brothers for no reason.”
“Yup!” He nodded his head, as he smiled at me.
“You didn’t say why.”
“Nope!” He gave me a quick hug and walked away.
Fabulous. Just fabulous. So now his teacher probably thinks that I’m some crazed psycho with a bladder problem who yells ‘Go! Go! Go!’ in a booming voice at my children whenever we need to leave the house. I just found out that teacher conferences are happening in a couple of weeks. That should be an interesting meeting.
I’ve come to realize that all of the nice stuff that we do – the baking of cookies, the long walks with our dog in the parks, the hunting for ladybugs in our backyard, the trips to the cinema to watch Disney movies and gorge ourselves on popcorn and M&Ms, the hours spent reading our favorite books – will seldom be talked about. They’ll rarely make it to the school journals and the playground chit chat.
But the farts in the car, the hiding out in the bathroom, and the Angry Mom Voice? Oh, they’ll definitely be mentioned. Every. Damn. Time.