On Tuesday, when I went to pick Ryan up from day camp, one of the young "animatrice" fingered me over. I put up my own index finger so that I could get my Ryan squeezes first before she said whatever news she had for me. Ryan was all smiles and guess-what-I-did-today and look-at-my-drawing-of-this-water-volcano. I was happy to see him.
"Yeah, um, Ryan has a problem listening to us sometimes." She looked at me sternly as if I had been the one not listening.
I looked at Ryan. The smiles where gone and in their place was a sulk. Head bowed. Shoulders slumped.
"Hmmm." He probably felt my eyes on him even though he couldn't see them with his head down like that.
"Yeah, um, we had a little incident in the metro today and then just a few minutes ago, he stabbed another guy in the chin with a marker." She shifted uneasily, still giving me her best look dripping with disapproval. "We're going to take him again tomorrow but..." and she let that hang there, but might as well have said "shape up or ship out."
I shot Ryan a look the couple of seconds we made eye contact. Then, I turned to her with a smile, only slightly apologetic. "We'll talk about it." Then, to Ryan, "Come on, kiddo."
I'll admit, I was a little embarrassed that Ryan was in trouble and YES, I did feel it reflected on me a little bit. But, I'm also proud that I've raised Ryan to be a balance of his own personality and my own stern rules.
"Mom, I'm so so sorry I did that."
"We'll talk about it later. With Papa." What a joke. As if talking to Papa meant anything fierce. If anything, Papa would start in with the he's-only-fives.
We walked on and met up with Sam at the exit of his work building and walked him to the girls' daycare. Ryan and I waited on a window perch while Sam retrieved the girls.
"So, what happened in the metro?"
There was some mumbling, and some re-mumbling but I finally got it out of him.
"Let me get this straight. Some kid said that Tinkerbell didn't have wings. And you told him 'yes she does' and he said 'nuh-UH' and you pushed him."
"Ryan, what did I tell you the other day at the playground? What are you supposed to do if a kid is bothering you and making you mad?"
"To not listen to him."
"Exactly." I let that hang for a minute. "And Ryan, DOES Tinkerbell have wings?"
"And you KNOW she does, right?"
"Then, shouldn't you just feel sorry for that other kid's ignorance? I mean, that he OBviously doesn't know what he's talking about?"
"So, the next time someone says something you know not to be true, argue your case once or twice but then if they're still going to argue, you're allowed to say, 'WHATEVER' and walk away."
"What you are NOT allowed to do is push someone just because they disagree with you. No matter HOW ignorant they are being. Is that clear?"
Silence for a few minutes.
"So, what about the kid with the marker? Why'd you stab that kid in the face?"
"Well, well, well, he was trying to write on my drawing."
I had to stifle a laugh because I probably would have wanted to stab that little fucker, too. I'm that way about art. If it's not a collaboration, keep your paws off, buster.
"Ryan, there is NEVER a reason to express your anger with violence. There is an appropriate and healthy way to express your anger. You can growl. You can stomp your foot one time. You can take deep breaths and count to ten. And then, just TELL the kid not to touch your stuff. If he doesn't listen, go tell the animateur/animatrice. Okay?"
"Violence is never the answer."
"Are you going to take my bike away?"
"I need to think about it. And to talk to Papa. And we'll come up with an appropriate punishment, okay?"
Just then, Sam came out with the girls and we did our screaming I-missed-you-so-bads.
As we walked back toward the van, I looked to my right and saw a homeless guy sleeping on a blanket on the sidewalk. I stopped, pointed to him and said to Ryan, "You see?" I was illustrating an on-going conversation between Ryan and me.
"Mom, why's that guy sleeping there?"
"Because he doesn't have anywhere to live. He probably doesn't have any food or warm clothes either."
"Well, Mom, let's GIVE him some. I can give him some cereal bars and one or two of my hotwheels."
My heart melted and dripped into my gut and over my eyeballs and onto my cheeks.
Oh, what? You thought that meant I wasn't going to punish him? WRONG. For the pushing in the metro, we took his cars away until the weekend. But for stabbing the kid in the face with a marker, we took away his bike until the weekend. AND we warned him that if he didn't listen to the day camp animateurs/trices, they wouldn't let him come back and he'd have to stay at home with me and clean and work on homework pages to prepare for next year... dun-dun-DUNNNNNN!
I went back to get him on Friday and made the mistake of asking the same girl if things were better.
"Well, a little. I mean, there are times when he still doesn't listen."
Never, I mean, NEVER ask a typical French person if something is better or okay because you're just giving them a rare solicited reason to BITCH even if there is no reason. And I KNOW BETTER. I'm not saying they're ALL like this, but most strangers are. Of COURSE he still doesn't listen. He's fucking FIVE. Five-year-olds, especially with my dramatic blood running in their veins, do NOT listen well all the time. Sorry. Fact of life and they had better get used to it if they want to be teachers (most of them are doing this day camp thing as an apprenticeship/internship on their way to becoming teachers of some kind).
Anyhoo, so there you go. Ryan is normal. Don't know how THAT happened. *grin*
7 hours ago