Before I was a house mom to Alpha Gamma McVey, I was a kindergarten teacher. My all time favorite job in the world. There is no way to have a bad day with 20 five year olds. It's just not possible. They are so funny without meaning to be. They have absolutely NO filter. If you have a kindergartner in your house, rest assured there are no secrets safe within your home. The kindergarten teacher knows all. I knew who slept in what bed and where for about every family in my class. I was told who was voting for who, what everyone's parents thought of Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and George Bush during the election year of 2000. One little boy in particular told me that his dad thought Bill Clinton was a big fat liar, "What do you think Mrs. McVey? Is he really a big fat liar?" I had to agree.
But I admit that as a teacher, I was a bit judgemental. I, like every other teacher in the world, had those select little boys who just couldn't sit still. They couldn't help themselves when they laughed themselves silly over farting noises, or did ridiculous things to make their friends laugh during "silent reading" time. I swore I was NEVER going to have a boy that acted like that. I remember thinking to myself, "My child will never behave like this. What are these parents doing at home?" I was going to have sweet little children who followed all the rules. I TAKE IT ALL BACK. EVERY SINGLE JUDGEMENT I HAD AND WORD I SAID.
Here I am, 7 years later, with two perfectly delightful little boys, Good Time Charlie and Sir WhineAlot, who have taught me to never say never. They are THOSE boys. The ones who can't sit still. The ones who whisper "chocolate penis" in their friends' ear at lunch. The ones who drown goldfish crackers in their juice. The ones who wrestle during story time and just can't seem to keep it together. But now I'm not the teacher, I'm the parent who receives the phone call from the teacher. The one on the end of the line explaining, "I'm so sorry, I will make sure it never happens again." Easier said than done. And then I think to myself, my boys are the ones the other parents warn their children about, probably even my own friends. I can just hear it now, "When Good Time Charlie and Sir WhineAlot are misbehaving, you IGNORE them."
Last week, I decided that we needed some sort of positive reinforcement system. Since the boys are very motivated by a pack of gum at their favorite 7 Eleven, I decided quarters would be the reward. No time- outs at school equals one quarter. And five quarters (which means 5 days with no time-outs) means a trip to the beloved 7 Eleven. Now our 7 Eleven is like any other 7 Eleven in the US, except that my children are very well known here. I'm not sure I take it as a compliment, but the owner and his brother call them "the tornado's". In their very thick Indian accents, they tell me "they are like tornado's, swirling around my store touching everything". Like I said, they are THOSE boys, even in a convenience store.
I was hoping that a little competition would entice them to earn the quarters. The first one to five quarters got the first trip to the store. Captain Competitive would be ALL over this if he needed a system, but he is my only rule follower and therefore isn't part of the game. Sir WhineAlot definitely has some fight in him, and he was the first to 5 quarters. Good Time Charlie was too busy wrestling on the rug to earn his last quarter last week. So here comes the lesson............... we go to 7 Eleven and Sir WhineAlot picks out his pack of gum. I wait for Good Time Charlie's tantrum. I watch his face as he studies all the packs of gum on the shelf. He doesn't even flash a frown. Just looks at me and says, "That's OK mommy, I can wait until next week when I earn another quarter". WHAT??? No sense of urgency, no remorse, NOTHING. The kid has more patience than anyone I've ever known. Enough to make me crazy. He figures he'll get his pack of gum when he gets around to it, in his own sweet time, when he feels like behaving.
They drive me to insanity, THOSE boys. But I love them like crazy and they make us all laugh. Life is definitely not boring around here and I never know what surprises (good and bad) they will bring daily. They are known as the tornado's, the neighborhood pirates, the dynamic duo, the wonder twins. They have taught me that kids aren't perfect, and parents aren't either. And no matter how hard I try, I can't change them. I can try to mold them into responsible members of society (please pray very hard, we need all the help we can get over here), but I can't squelch their creative spirits. I just wish they'd stop wrestling on the rug.