My husband is probably going to be irritated with me and the kids are probably going to say I didn't remember the event correctly, as always, but I just have to write the memory as I remember it down for posterity's sake.
As any parent with teenagers can tell you, when your offspring attains the age of about 12 (if you have not already scheduled their demise) your child revisits the developmental stage of the terrible two's, but this time around it includes added bonuses. For girls, it's PMS. For boys, it's testosterone poisoning. Trust me on this.
So it is not any wonder that there was a particular day in which I needed my husband for a little tag team parenting. The eldest three were behaving like hard core toddlers and not only did I need a break, I needed my husband to talk to them. (all of the girls were 12 or older) Since all the girls are 'Daddy's Girls', I try to use this tactic sparingly. I don't remember now, after many years, just what I was so upset and angry about, but whatever the 'problem' was, I wanted him to talk sternly to them so that they would understand how serious I was about my opinions of said 'problem.'
So the kids go off for a ride in the van with their father so that he could advise them on the 'gravity' of the situation (and I could get a little peace and quiet while the youngest was playing with a friend).
A while later, they all came back and instead of the subdued children I had expected, they were smiling, laughing and teasing each other.
Before I could question my husband on just what had occurred on this ride, our daughter, Danielle, beamed at me as she said, "You don't have to worry, Mommy. Daddy explained the four Laws of Life and we understand them all."
The other kids were looking looking as happy as Danielle and they were all nodding their heads vigorously as their sister informed me of their new found knowledge.
Knowing my husband, who, at the time, was standing a little behind them trying to look like his halo wasn't choking him (in my opinion), I immediately knew that something had gone awry in my intended communication with the kids. I'm sure my eyes, almost instantly, started to narrow. Seeing that I was not looking real happy with the situation, the kids all hurried to explain the Laws of Life and their meanings... according to Daddy.
"One, Never break more than one law at a time. So if we were able to drive and had a tail light that was busted, we shouldn't speed."
"Two, Never bring along a camera if you are going to break the law. That one was easy to understand so we didn't really need an explanation for that one."
"Three, Never try to understand someone else's 'kink'. So we should just accept people the way they are even if we do think they are a little strange."
"Four, Never date your friend's spouses or girlfriends/boyfriends. This is just not acceptable behavior and could get you into a LOT of trouble so it is just best to avoid the situation."
By this time I am staring at my husband who had been correcting the wording in their recitation of these laws.
I was pretty angry to start out with and I only got angrier because, darn it all, their facial expressions and the manner in which they spoke was pretty darn funny. The problem was (other than my husband's humor) that I'm sure there is some unwritten rule out there in the universe that says if you laugh or smile while reprimanding kids, then they can't be punished for whatever their transgression had been. I was trying really hard not to laugh but finally, I had to just walk away. Defeated.
Our kids are anything but stupid, and they knew their father was joking with them. They also knew that I was still pretty mad and the entire bunch played 'least in sight' for the rest of the day.
At the time, I remember thinking that if it was true that you learn everything you need to know in Kindergarten, just what then, was my husband's Kindergarten class like? With him in it?
Truthfully, though, we did teach our kids more than to just find humor where ever you can find it. My husband and I are very proud of all of our kids and we wouldn't sell any of them... even on the bad days... even if someone offered us more than ten cents a pound...
QOTD: If you have not bought, 'All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten' by Robert Fulghum, you really need to. Especially if you have kids. Especially if you have two year olds... or teenagers... or husbands...
~ from the book, All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten
All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten.
ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sandpile at Sunday School. These are the things I learned:
Don't hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don't take things that aren't yours.
Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
Be aware of wonder.
Remember the little seed in the styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.
And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.
Everything you need to know is in there somewhere.
The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation.
Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.
Take any of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or your government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm.
Think what a better world it would be if all - the whole world - had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.
And it is still true, no matter how old you are - when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.
© Robert Fulghum, 1990. Found in Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten, Villard Books: New York, 1990, page 6-7.