Friday, May 23, 2008

More Adventures in Parenting

Last week I got an email from Mr. R, Mina's third grade teacher. Gone is the era of teacher's notes and phone calls because in our time we all figured out how to intercept these didn't we? How many of us had our mother's signature down? I had fooled the nuns of St. Timothy's more than once. And until our grade schoolers learn how to hack into our email accounts, email it will be.

The email read that Mina had not been going to her after-school reading program. For the entire month of May. Twice a week she is supposed to go straight from the finishing bell to the library to work on a language-reading program to strengthen her skills. "She just hasn't gone?" I asked, surprised. Nope, he said, basically. I envisioned her jetting to the monkey bars or the handball court instead where she reigns supreme. Why not go for a little self affirmation instead of that tricky time-suck of a reading program? I immediately thought of ways to whoop that ass, but on the heels of this pending molestation case at Maya's school, my mind waffled between Whoop Little Ass and What If There's Another Reason? My stomach roiled in worry and waffling for hours until she got home.

She had indeed fucked off the reading program. But it was half justified in her mind. She believed that we had an unspoken agreement that she could stop going to the program once she got to a certain level. But for the most part she knew she was sneaking off. I had to ask: "Do any of the teachers in the program make you uncomfortable." "No!" She said and then went on and on about Phil, the aide, who is awesome. I didn't whoop that ass. I calmly gave an award-winning, heart-felt speech power-pointing illustrious themes such as Make Better Decisions for Yo'self, Damit. I even pulled the Trust theme off the shelf. I only use this theme sparringly, without any flippancy or irony. It has to be used poignantly borderlining theatrical. "And you have extra chores and you're grounded this week from Top Chef and So You Think You Can Dance --- Wha? I KNOW I didn't hear you just whine . . ." She got the point and I patted myself on the back. I looked out the window and sipped my coffee. Parenting: I Got This.

Yesterday I got another email from Mr. R. It read, simply: "At recess Mina called another student a bitch." WHAT IN THE FUCK was my first thought, which I realize is not the most appropriate of reactions when your child is being called out as the class potty mouth. I wrote back, "Lord have mercy . . ."

Here's what happened:

Pete, another third grader and who is, in general, a thorn in Mina's side on the playground because he is a cheater of games and annoying, cut in line in front of Mina as they filed up to go back to class after recess. After being cut in front of, Mina mumbled, "Bitch." She didn't speak directly to him really, she wasn't all, "Hey, bitch, I was fucking here" or "Get to the back, bitch." She didn't even bastardize the word into "biach", but she did say to herself, loud enough for three of her classmates to hear, "Bii-ch."

Between me, Husband and my adult friends, this is very funny, and yet still a blow to my parenting skills. That my sweet 55lb girl mutters Bitch in context and like she's grown is both hilarious and nerve wracking. But the fact that she didn't have sense enough to keep that shit to herself bothers me. Not that Mina's a pure angel. In fact, Husband thought he heard her mumble this once before when she almost dropped the Wii controller during a fierce bout of tennis. Husband said when he heard it, he cocked his head and hesitated and then said to himself, "Naaaa." Since hearing of the Bitch Incident, Husband and I will mumble to each other at random times, "bitch," or we'll IM each other during the day, "Pete's a lil bitch" though we do commend Pete for not actually being the one to have tattled on Mina. Her three classmates ratted her out. Husband and I say to each other, "Pete may be a bitch, but he knows the code of the street."

It's not like Maya didn't go through her period of saying inappropriate shit in her grade school days either. She never got busted for cursing, but her coup de grĂ¢ce was when, in second grade, she walked up to her teacher who was speaking to the principal (the principal!), held out a bag of Fritos and said, "Anybody want some freshly farted chips?" I'm still baffled by that one. Her teacher called me immediately after school, and I tried not to laugh, but when she said, "This is very inappropriate for a young lady," I said, "Listen, she's in second grade and boogers and farting are funny. You wouldn't be calling me had a boy said this to you, right?" Silence. I didn't think so now go eat your fart chips.

The day of the Bitch Incident, I was waiting for Mina at her class door as the bell rang. When she spilled out of class with the others, she was elated to see me -- for a second -- until she realized I was probably there to whoop that ass. During the walk home she gave me a brief explanation and then I gave a fifteen minute heated speech entitled, Oh, You Think You're Grown? "You can say grown words and skip out on your reading program like you're grown, right? Not only say grown words but RUDE grown words, right? When do you even hear that word. We don't say that word." Which is true. If she had said, Hell No or Holy Shit or Fuck That, then I would shoulder much of the responsibility. She said, "I dunno." "You don't know? Maya doesn't say that (I hope), where do you hear that?" And she said in the meekest of voices, "From the streets." I nearly rolled in the grass. I some how stayed in character: "Since you're grown, I think we should take you out of school and get you a job." "No, mami," "Yup, you need a job since you're making grown decisions, no matter how bad. Mmmhmm, make your own food, buy your own clothes." "No, mami!" "Where can we get you a job?" And on. By the time we got home it seemed she did not, in fact, want to be grown, that the word bitch had just slipped out of her mouth but yes! She could control herself. Then we went upstairs and I washed her mouth out with soap. Yes, I did. Old school!

My next door neighbor Molly asked, "You didn't use that good, organic soap did you?" I said, "The one that smells like cinnamon and tastes like oatmeal? No, that would've been a treat." I used a bar of Ivory that we had lying around for an art project. I didn't acutally get it in her mouth, really, but she had a nice slathering of Ivory lip balm. The point was made. She got more chores and extra reading -- and I think she's straight now, but still I await, anxiously, for more emails from Mr. R.

Parenting: It's a day-to-day, roll-with-the-punches experiment. Bitch!


Melinda said...

Holy shit, this just made my entire day. "From the streets"?? HEEE!!!

Remind me how hi-larious I thought this all was when I get a call from daycare saying that my 2-yr-old just woke up from her name calling out "Mother of Christ!"

Melinda said...

That should read: "woke up from her NAP" -- obv. Don't you hate when your typos ruin your point?


Maven said...

I'm sorry, dude, this whole thing is hilarious. "Pete may be a bitch, but he knows the code of the street." Dying. Also, I totally get "freshly farted chips" because they were Fritos. Those shits smell like wet doggie.

I got my mouth washed out with soap for explaining the word "fuck" to my sister when I was 6 or 7. What I told her was "it's vulgarity." Then she told on me for saying it. Bitch.

My brother in law told Henry the f word because Henry had heard ABOUT the f word but not what it was. Bill knew it was going to drive Henry crazy, so he took him into another room and after many caveats about how you can't say this and it's bad and rude and don't tell your brother, he told him.

Henry pranced back into the living room all know it all, leaned over to my sister, and said into her ear, "it's fuck."

There have been no fuck problems. Yet.

Karen said...

I am ROFLMAO! Can I also just say what a cool mom you are? :)

Mandi said...

Oooh, I remember getting soap in the mouth for saying fuck to my little sister when I was 8 years old. What did I know? I just heard the high school neighbor boy yell it to his brother, so I thought that's what you did. We were swinging in the backyard, and as soon as I said it, she ran into the house and told my Mom. She's cool now though, and has to watch her language in front of her 2-year old son who repeats EVERYTHING. Full circle, I tell you.

jennifer said...

this "adventure" had me crackin up! way to hold it together with the talks. some of the things kids do and say!!

kristen said...

i love how you roll, mami. xo

Kristin C. said...

I don't even know what to say.

You rocked that shit, though. BOTH times.


Anonymous said...

priceless, simply priceless.

Don't Get Mad Get Vegan! said...

i love this

CWrites said...

HILARIOUS! The way you handle your children is priceless!

Pixielyn said...

This post was absolutely delightful. You gotta love these kids and their trying out new waters. LOL. Your handling was perfect!
My sons school once called me when my son was in second grade to come get my son, he was going to be suspended . "WAH!" I cried! I drove to the school with trepidation, WHAT could a second grader DO to get suspended? Smoke pot in the bathroom? Steal? I walked up to the office with a pounding heart. I sat in front of the stern Principal waiting my sons declaration of doom. His face was in the corner behind her desk and he was trying to turn his head down and over so he could peak at me but I was determined to not crack a peek.
The Principal said how dissappointed she was to tell me that my son did something so awful, so disasterous, so HORRENDOUS that it just might be under the catagory of sexual harrassment.
I asked what he had done to warrant such horrors.
He slapped a little girl a good SMACK on her butt when she bent over to pick up her pencil.
I burst out laughing!
I had done that VERY same thing to my husband just the night before!
He wasnt suspended and I couldnt believe he was accused of sexual harrassment.
Good grief it was just a pracitcal joke! But for respects sake I just talked to him about not touching and boundaries, I dont think he ever contimplated doing THAT joke again.
But he did moon a teacher so I did have to severely punish him the very next week. They push, we teach, thank you for reminding me of the eye sparkling delights of motherhood!!

madness rivera said...

PixieL: Sounds like your son has a lil booty fetish, and I don't blame him. Mooned a teacher!! Clas-sic!

Pixielyn said...

LOL Madness, not anymore thank god. He's fifteen now, and would DIE if he knew I shared second grade tales about him. He's a good boy, a very very good soul. He just tested his limits to the limit in second grade when everything gross was hilariously worth trying. ;-)A true boy. I applauded his antics most times. He's such a leader. You I'm sure recognize that in Mina too right? A true individual. I LOVE how you are talking about your parenting, I relate to every step!!