We’ve all received that dreaded call. At least once. Probably at least twice. And some of us, uh-hem, more than that. And if you are sitting there, shaking your head “No” that you’ve never received “the call,” just you wait. It’s coming. I promise.
It happens to all of us. And if it has never, ever happened to you, than you’re lying.
Because my kids are angels. They truly are. Oh, sure. They make mistakes. They learn from them and move on. But most of the damn-near time, they are sweet, adorable angels.
Except when they aren’t.
Whenever we see people out in public, especially children but sometimes adults, behaving in ways in which they shouldn’t, I point it out. I say, “See? They are teaching us how NOT to behave.”
Well, one son in particular took that “teaching moment example” to a whole new level.
At age 5, in the dark, dank corners of the playground, he gathered his friends. He whispered in hush tones and said, “Now, this means something really, really bad. And you should never, ever do this.” And then, he clenched his fingers into a tight little fist and pried a certain spectacular finger away from the others (because he couldn’t do it without the help of his other hand) and showed his friends the offensive gesture. They were awed and amazed at the power one little finger could have. And then they ran off, into the safety of the sunshine, to play on the swings.
A few days later, I received the call.
“Mrs. Jane?” his teacher asked tentatively on the phone, “I need to make you aware of something.” She then informed me of the fateful day on the playground, how SHE received a call from another parent asking that her child be separated from my son and never be allowed to play with my child again. Ever. I was mortified. I was sooooo embarrassed. But the teacher kindly informed me that she had spoken with my son and that his reaction was so innocent, so matter-of-fact in the merits of his lesson shared with his friends, that she felt it was an innocent mistake. That this would all blow over and that the other parent would cool down. Eventually. In the meantime, she would separate the children as well as she could for the time being until all was forgotten.
And then there was the call from a good friend. She opened the conversation up with, “I feel like we’re about to create a scene right out of A Christmas Story…” and then she proceeded to inform me of how when they had been over for dinner the weekend before and our (now a little older) kids were upstairs playing my sons taught her sons a bad word. A word that rhymes truck. Apparently, one of her children misspoke the word truck and it came out sounding like the word that rhymes with truck and giggles ensued. Leave it to my sons to inform the mis-speaker what it sounded like he said. Oh, but that’s not all. It seems they also watched music videos on YouTube that were inappropriate. Videos more appropriate for older teens. I was mortified. I was sooooo embarrassed. So, a big discussion took place, and a Net-Nanny went into effect.
And it sucked.
And then, a few years later, a son (who shall remain nameless) came home from school in tears. I asked him to explain. And through the tears, all I could understand were the words “She” “My friend and I” and “Bullying.” WHAT? Did I hear him right? He was mortified. He was soooo embarrassed. He said the teacher would be calling me. And he ran up to his room and slammed the door.
I got the call. And it was awful. It was terrible. I was mortified and more than embarrassed.
But after speaking with the teacher, a teacher who is amazing and wonderful and worked hard to get to the bottom of what had actually happened, I was relieved. Apparently, some name-calling was tossed around between a young lady who had a crush on my son. My son did not return the affection. His friend, leaping to his defense, joined in with some name calling of their own to “get her to stop crushing on him.” It backfired. And with the school’s No-Bullying Policy in place, the loudest name-callers got into trouble. (Bullying is a word we are tossing around too flippantly and easily, I might add. But that’s the topic for another post.)
It was all resolved. Eventually. And my son learned a valuable lesson.
But it still sucked.
Parenting sucks sometimes. You get to be embarrassed in ways you never dreamed possible. Your peers get to see you struggling, while their little angels shine. Except when they don’t. There will come a day when the hot, white spotlight reveals their little angel’s flaws and mistakes.
And then YOU get to slink back into the shadows.
And thank the dear Lord above, that at least it wasn’t YOUR son.
(This post was inspired by a true-confessional by my dear bloggy friend, Nap at Naptime Writing. Please check her out.)