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Monday, February 14, 2011

The Valentine's Lesson

Last night it was revealed to us, just minutes before prayer, that our nine-year-old daughter was short a FEW Valentine cards/lollipops for her classmates. Here's the problem: she had a box of 30 Sponge Bob cards and 30 heart-shaped lollipops. There are 23 students in her class and one teacher. I wasn't the top student in Math throughout my education but... she had enough to go around and she should have have six left.
Well she showed us the box- did I mention she brought this to our attention just before going to bed the night before Valentine's Day? There were 25 cards and six lollipops. Daddy looked like he wanted to touch the cards and candy, produce a miracle and multiply them. Our last name does begin with a J but... the only thing we could do was make a trip to a store.
We weren't about to do that. She had to learn.
I could just picture her with her feet up, laughing at us- I mean a cartoon- suckiing on lollipops... with her brother beside her, biting his.
I snapped out of it when Daddy said, "You know what! You just go in there and fill out your cards and you will have to explain to your friends why you gave them a Sponge Bob card with two holes in it but no lollipop!"
I hadn't thought of that.
So she went in her room and filled them out.
Five minutes later...
"Mommy, Daddy! I need two more cards."
We looked at each other. Then at her.
"Why?" we asked in unison.
"Well I messed up on two of them," she softly replied.
Daddy looked through the cards. Pulled one out of the deck as if he were David Blaine.
"Why would you write your name on a card and from yourself?"
I was done.
So we told her she would have to explain to the two friends who were left, why they didn't get a card with two holes in it nor any candy.

When I picked them up from school this afternoon she skipped to the van with a wide smile on her face.
She slid the door closed, buckled her belt and began cheerfully revealing how much fun she and her classmates had.
"Mommy, guess what?"
I didn't answer. It didn't matter.
"My friends loved my Valentine cards! They liked them because they were Sponge Bob!" Then she went on and on talking with her brother the entire way home, about their day.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Parenting can be so difficult at times. We want to teach them to do the right things in myriad situations especially when we are not around. We are supposed to prepare them to live and be productive citizens in this crazy world one day. Sometimes the lessons I try to teach just miss or get interpreted incorrectly.
Our little seven-year-old has gone through some funny stages: at three we caught him debating with his young daycare teacher... regularly. Just picture a vertically-challenged, curly-haired, almond-shaped, tight-eyed boy sitting at a table- feet dangling- eating mac-n-cheese and in between bites telling his 21-year-old teacher, "Call my Mama! Just see what's gone happen!" (chewing) "Don't call my Daddy 'cause he at work." I think he was just being a little James Dean because he was used to being at home with Mommy. Him- I mean he wasn't ready for Mommy to go back to work. Then when he reached kindergarten, he was definitely a lot more reserved and definitely eliminated the defiance at daycare.
In first grade teachers- everyone- thought he walked on water. Now that we have moved and he is in second grade he has so timid and easily scared by many things, not just Chick-fil-A, Disney characters and Chuck-E-Cheese.
So Daddy and I are always talking to him about standing up for himself. Teaching kids to stand up for themselves can be tricky because while we are cognizant of bullying we don't want to teach fighting. Unfortunately a child could be targeted, even in the best elementary schools, if he or she doesn't stand up to others. Just the other day he was asking us if we thought he was tough.
It took us some time to teach him to ride a bike because he was so scared to fall. Understandable I guess. So we gingerly helped him to ride by basically WALKING beside him as he rode around our grassy yard with his helmet on. Sharp contrast to how I learned. My mom removed the training wheels, put me on my bike at the top of a small hill in our neighborhood and said, "You better ride this bike or you gone bust your head in front of all yo' friends out here!" Just before pushing me off. No holding the bike up while I rode around. Didn't have a helmet either. But I learned how to ride my bike with Aces and Spades clothes-pinned to the spokes of my tires, flapping in the breeze.
Tuesday when I picked the kids up from school, our son immediately got my blood pressure up. "Mama... I got into a fight today on the playground!" he told me with slight excitement.
"WHAT?" I panicked.
"Well we were playing Vampires and Werewolves and this girl named ******* kept putting her hands on me so I pushed her."
I felt like I had vertigo... "You got into a fight with a girl?"
I'm driving out of the school parking lot- looking at the road and at him sitting in the seat behind the front passenger seat- feet still dangling.
"Well she wouldn't stop touching me."
Shaking my head. Trying to make sense of it.
"Then me and ****** picked up a rock and acted like were gonna hit her."
I swerved.
"What!!!!" Couldn't believe it. "What did I tell you about being a follower?" I yelled.
"No Mama... I picked up a rock first!"
I was livid.
I cannot believe your teacher didn't call me.
"We had a substitution. I think she was 92-years-old and she don't like tattle-tales," he somberly said.
Then he leaned over toward his sister and disappointingly said, "I thought Mama and Daddy would be proud that I got into a fight."