My kid got into shit again at school. This time it was for stomping out of his classroom and walking home. He’s 6.
Of course, I got a call from his teacher asking me to come in. This was a very serious matter and needed to be addressed immediately.
When I rushed down the hallway towards the principal’s office, I saw him slumped over in a chair. His feet didn’t quite touch the ground and he just looked so small…
But this sentimentality is what turns normal, rational people into helicopter parents, which in turn turns kids into useless assholes, unable to take responsibility for their own fuck ups. So I sucked it up, got into character and marched towards him.
Before I could speak, the teacher and principal stepped out to meet me. They turned towards my sullen son and said,
“Are you aware that your son left his classroom without permission and walked home?”
“Apparently, he realized you were at work, so he walked back to school.”
“And then,” his teacher said. “When I asked him why he chose to do this, even though he knew it was against school rules, he told me…”
I braced myself, waiting for the ax to fall.
“He told me it was because he was ‘sick of our arbitrary rules.’”
If he’d used some terrible swear word, I’d assume it was really my fault, but the word arbitrary? Correctly in a sentence? I tried not to look proud, but what else could a mother feel?
“What,” the principal interrupted my thoughts. “Are you planning to do about this?” she said accusingly.
I was planning to take him home and give him a very stern talking to. I intended to make him write an apology to his teacher for scaring her and wasting her time. I was also for sure going to ground him from screen time for….I don’t know…a week?
But to them I said, “Well, first, I’m going to congratulate him on his correct use of the word arbitrary.” I then took my son by the hand and walked him home.
I publicly took his side, not because it was necessarily the right thing to do, but because it’s what I wished someone would have done for me when I was a spy.
At eight years-old, I was totally obsessed with the book Harriet The Spy. I read it like 100 times and so was inspired to convert my family’s abandoned rabbit hutch into a spy fort. I got myself a notebook, mapped out a spy route and got right to work. More than once my mother got calls from our neighbours:
“Can you please tell your daughter to stop looking through my bathroom window?”
But I couldn’t stop, it was all part of the job. And my commitment to spying soon paid off.
There was a Mac’s Convenience store at the corner of Dunbar and 38th, which I used to pass by regularly to record the goings on of the customers. One day I discovered that the workers ripped the covers off all their unsold magazines and tossed them into the dumpster behind the store on the last Wednesday of every month.
So, after dinner, when it got dark, I took my wagon down to the dumpster, climbed in and grabbed all the copies of Playboy, Hustler and Penthouse I could find, snuck them home, hid them under the floorboards of my spy fort and sent out the word.
Soon, I was the most popular girl in the neighbourhood – at least among the boys. Neither my mom or dad noticed the huge stash of Popeye Cigarettes or the pile of crumpled dollar bills shoved in my bedside table drawer. No one blinked an eye when Tony, who was nearly 13 at the time, regularly showed up at my front door and asked if I could come out to play. But it was the 70’s, so there you go.
Anyhow, I was rich and popular and loving every minute of it until Mike’s mother found the magazines hidden under his mattress. She dragged him into our kitchen by the ear and demanded to know why and how I’d sold her good, Catholic son (gasp) Pornography!! (more gasps all around).
I got the spanking of my life. My parents confiscated all my money and my cigarettes. My dad tore down my spy fort and I wasn’t allowed to play with anyone on our street for a really long time.
I wish I’d known then to tell my folks to stop focussing on the porn. The porn wasn’t the point. Why was everyone focusing on the porn? They could have noticed the genius behind it all…and might even directed it in a more positive way.
Who knows where it might have led?
Do you(or your kids) use your powers for good?
Thanks for reading… hope you’ll share widely. xx