Sunday, July 18, 2010

Mom, Did I Ever Tell You About the Time...

Monrovia Middle School
As our kids have gotten older and all but one have left home, a few things have come to light. The things that I'm speaking of would be things that happened during the time they lived at home but were not brought to our attention at the time.

One weekend, the kids were home for a weekend visit from college life. We were sitting at the dinner table carrying on normal conversations. (Yes, it is possible to have normal conversations with your children at the dinner table. If you're not there yet, hang in there. You'll get there.) One of our kids referred to a time in middle school and said, "Mom, did I ever tell you about the time....". The immediate thought that came to mind was not one of comfort. It was one of "Oh my - not sure I want to hear this!" But, without slowing down to give me a chance to wrap my mind around all of the possibilities, he proceeded. "Mom, did I ever tell you about the time that I got a paddling at school?" Paddling? Did he just say paddling? I'm confident it wasn't paddling. I misunderstood. My ears were not clearly hearing what he was trying to communicate. "What?", I said. He responded, "A paddling - Did I ever tell you about the time that I got a paddling at school?" After picking the lower half of my mouth up off of the floor, I replied, "No, I don't recall your bringing home that little tidbit of information when you were still in school here! A paddling? *****Smith !" With every word, I'm confident that the pitch of my voice got just a little bit higher. It was at this point that a little smile came across this child of mine's face.

The next logical question had to be asked even though it was one that I really didn't want to hear the answer to. "What did you do to get a paddling?"  As far as I knew, none of my kids had ever been paddled at school before.  My kids were far from perfect...FAR FROM PERFECT. They definitely had their share of troubles but they were basically good  kids. I just could not imagine what he had done! What could he have done to earn a paddling! One of the ground rules that we had in our home for our children was that good behavior was expected of them at school. As a matter of fact, they knew that if they got in trouble at school, they would have a another dose of it when they got home. Misbehaving, especially at school, was just not okay.

Back to my question. "What did you do to get a paddling?"  He revealed the cause of the infliction of pain on his backside.  "I laughed." Now, I realize that those two words make up a complete sentence.  It has a subject and a verb. But I knew that there was no way that it was a complete answer.  I KNEW there was more to the story than that. "What?  You laughed?"

It was then that we were given just a little bit more information to fill in the missing pieces to this paddling puzzle.  It seems that this child and a buddy were laughing...a lot and had been doing so in a previous class.  When they arrived at this particular class, the teacher asked them to stop.  Well, the laughing had already reached maximum proportions and was going ahead full steam. There was no stopping it.  That's probably stretching it.  If someone were holding a gun to their heads and said stop laughing or I'll shoot, they probably would have stopped.   I think we've all had those moments when we've started laughing at something and couldn't stop. (It usually happens at the worst time and place like school or church!) 

On with the rest of the story... When the kids didn't stop laughing, they were sent to the Assistant Principal. At most middle and high schools, the Assistant Principal is not the nicest member of the school faculty.  As a matter of fact, he/she is usually the disciplinarian.  He's a "no bones about it" sort of person.  He doesn't smile a lot and most of the kids know that they really do need to steer clear of him if possible.

Upon arriving at the Asst. Principal's office, these two kids were asked why they were there.  They replied to him that they had been laughing.  (Now, you just have to wonder if this man at the time didn't scratch his head just a bit, and think, huh? Laughing? Aren't there just a few more serious infractions that we need to be dealing with than laughing? )  But then I'm sure he probably also thought that it had to be more than just laughing or the teacher wouldn't have sent them down to him in the first place. Time to get down to the nitty gritty. Time for the punishment to be doled out for such an infraction.  "You have a choice, boys.  You can either have after school detention or a paddling."  The decision was an easy one for the Smith kid. He knew that there was no way he would take the after school detention. That would mean he would have to stay after school.  If he had to stay after school, that would mean that mom and dad would find out! Easy decision! No staying after school for him! So, the Smith kid took door #2 - pain infliction to his backside as his prize, I mean punishment on that day. I'm sure it didn't feel good at all. I'm also pretty confident that he probably didn't laugh a whole lot in that teacher's class afterwards either.

Years later, I guess this Smith child thought that it was safe to reveal his well kept secret at the dinner table.   I'm sure he thought that the statute of limitations on double punishment had run out.  Tim and I just kind of shook our heads still in disbelief.  You never just never know.

What are the lessons learned from this one you ask? The obvious one for kids is this -If your teacher tells you to stop doing something, YOU REALLY DO NEED TO STOP. To this child in particular,  it was a story that you lived to tell but you lived probably because you didn't tell it when it happened. I'm just not sure how your dad and I would have reacted to that one.  Finally, to parents, sometimes ignorance really is bliss and in this case, it definitely was!

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