Before I started Kindergarten, I went to a daycare called Ding Dong Campus.
(Pausing for the laughter to subside)
One day, my friend Leigh Dopson was standing behind the teacher. She stuck her tongue out at me. I stuck my tongue out at Leigh right back. Unfortunately, the teacher didn’t know what was happening behind her and thought I was sticking my tongue out at her. This was unacceptable behavior. In fact, this was punishable behavior.
It wouldn’t have been so bad except a week before this, I threw a book at my teacher. She and I weren’t really getting along that well, and frankly, she had it coming. My parents sorta understood how things had gotten out of hand with the book incident, so they cut me a little slack. But it was made quite clear to me: if I got in trouble again for being disrespectful, I was toast.
I remember very clearly lying on my cot at nap time, trying to figure out what I was gonna do. There was a note in my bag. My parents were gonna find out. I was gonna get it. Then a brilliant plan occurred to me: if they never saw the note, they would never know! This was genius. All I had to do was get rid of the evidence. After nap, I went to my cubby, slipped the note out, ripped it apart and threw that sucker in the trash. Problem solved.
Everything was going just fine with my evil plan until some goody goody found the note in the trash and gave it to my teacher, who then taped the note back together and sent it home in a reconstructed state, so my parents would know about my cover up attempt. You can imagine how well my evening went. I got spanked for being disrespectful. I got spanked for trying to hide my infraction. I got spanked for kicking the kid who turned me in. More than 30 years later, I still remember that conversation with my dad. It went something like, “Are you kidding me, Kerri?! You really thought we wouldn’t find out?” I was, at best, 4 years-old. My sneaking skills were not yet as good as they would become in later years.
This whole story and the phrase, “paying for your raising” came flooding back last week. Monkey Boy had been having some trouble at school. There were talking tos, warnings and eventually threats of dire consequences. He was out of chances. When I picked him up, he looked very distraught. (He has no poker face.) He told me I was pretty. I knew then, this was not a good day.
As we were walking out the door, the woman in charge of Afterschool Care chased me down yelling, “I found this!” Monkey Boy had taken his daily behavior report out of his bag and hidden it under a bench. Apparently the child logic of “What they don’t see, they don’t know” is still popular. Guess what? It still doesn’t work.
He got spanked for the thermo-nuclear meltdown he had when he didn’t get his way. He got spanked for the cover-up plan. He did not retaliate against the whistle blower, so he saved himself that misery.
I do not know how there is not DNA between me and this child. I could not have birthed a hooligan more like myself. I know for sure God has a sense of humor. He and my parents are having a great laugh about all this. I suppose someone should because nobody at my house is enjoying it.
All I know is, Mom and Dad, I am so sorry for what I put you through. (Here’s hoping a belated apology spares me some of the pain of what will most certainly be wretched teen years.)