Monday, September 28, 2009


At school the other day, the teacher I work with was reading a book to the children that explained the trinity using an apple. At one point, the book talked about having faith in Jesus, and the teacher went on to explain what that meant. Then she asked the children (four year olds) to raise their hands if they believed in Jesus. Every little hand went up. Then, one little girl said very excitedly, "I believe in Jesus!" And in the very next breath she said, " And I believe in fairies too!"

It was all I could do to not snort out loud and fall off of my chair. The teacher and I could NOT look at each other, because we knew that we would lose it. It was a fabulous way to end class. Oh how I love four year olds!


Sean has been having some "issues" at school lately. You see, my wee bonny Sean, is also a wee bit social. And by "wee bit" I mean "has never met a stranger." Once, when he was about three, he dressed up in a party hat and came up to me and said, "Look at me! I'm a party!" Can I just say that truer words have never been spoken?

Since preschool, Sean has had "issues." Now these are not serious, just the usual thing that plagues the very social child: he talks too much, he often doesn't listen as frequently or as carefully as he should, he is all about the fun. As you can imagine, this doesn't play well in most classrooms. So when teachers set down their rules and discipline policies at the beginning of the school year, we sit down with our Seannie-boy and go over them. We inform him of our expectations and let him know what the consequences will be if he doesn't meet the expectations.

In his current classroom, each student has a folder that must be looked at by a parent and signed nightly. If there is a check mark on a day, it means that the child was given several warnings about something and still didn't comply. The teacher has an abbreviation next to the check, which describes the area where the child was having difficulty--AL means Active Listening, SC stands for Self-Control, etc. At our house, if a child gets a checked folder, or some other communication from school stating that they aren't meeting expectations, they know that they will be grounded.

Now I don't know what grounded looks like in most people's homes, but in ours it looks like Bedrock--as in the Stone Age. There is no phone, no television, no computer, no video games, no handheld anything, and no leaving the yard. Being grounded around here is a big, fat bummer. It is especially hard on my social boy who has a neighborhood posse of boys that he wants to go play with. Sean has faced this particular situation once a week since the beginning of September. And this week, he had two days in a row with checks. Ruh roh.

His dad and I have tried to impress upon him the importance of zipping his lip, but apparently he's still not getting it. On day #2 of being grounded and miserable, and therefore making the others around him miserable, I was hoping that maybe the message was starting to sink in. We want him to know that his actions have consequences and that he is in charge of himself and his choices, so his choices need to be good ones.

So Wednesday night, Sean came downstairs after his "official" bedtime to give us an extra hug. When he hugged his daddy, his daddy grabbed his hands and said, "Hey, I want to talk to you a minute."

"Hey bud, you know that your mom and I love you very much and that you are a good kid. Sometimes you don't make good choices, but we still love you. We mess up too. We will never stop loving you, but we want you to make better choices for yourself. When your buddies are messing around, you can just hold your hand up and shake your head 'no.' Then later you can tell them that you don't want to get into trouble. Save the silliness for the playground. Be a good listener in class. Don't talk when your teacher doesn't want you to. Because, you know, you start out talking in class, or goofing off with your buddies in the bathroom, and the next thing you know, you're on the road to the penitentiary."

At this point, I howled and just about fell off the couch. And then Sean made it worse when he asked quizzically, "What's the penitentiary?"

"Prison!" I cackled. Yes I am totally laughing about my son's road to ruin.

Then Patrick continued, adding fuel to the fire. "You know those guys you see on the news that rob banks or shoot people?"

"Yes," said Sean.

"They all started out getting their folders signed in school," Pat said.

And then I officially died from laughing.

I don't know how things will go with Sean's folder in the coming weeks, but at least years from now when I am passing him cakes embedded with files during official visiting hours, I will be able to pinpoint where it all started going wrong.

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