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And So It Begins...

Everyone wins and loses with inappropriate behavior...

Good Afternoon, Unfine Sir,

This morning, there was an incident where a group of grade one girls were swearing on the hill during recess. Your daughter was involved. She admitted to saying the f*** and sh** words at recess with her friends, but said she did not know what the words meant. After a few more questions, she admitted she knew that they were swearing words.

I talked with all the girls involved about using inappropriate language at school and the consequences, as well as being honest when they have done something wrong. Your daughter will be missing one recess next week as a consequence for using these words.

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

Sincerely disappointed in your parenting skills,

Your Daughter’s Teacher

*

Good Morning Saturday!

“Girl, come here… NOW!” I bellowed after having just read this.

Honestly, as I waited for my daughter to arrive before me with that most certainly rehearsed innocent face, I was laughing on the inside.

What the hell’s the big deal?

My kid held court, exchanging profanity with a few friends, giggling their asses off at recess. It appears she is part of the in-crowd. The nasty girls. The cool kids.

Who wouldn’t want that for their child?

“Is Dad angry with me?” I heard my daughter ask my son, as her lighter than air footsteps notified me of her pending approach.

“I don’t know,” my son replied. I knew he loved this. He hoped she was in deep trouble given that she had recently encouraged him to pee on a tree in our back yard.

I held out my phone and instructed my daughter to read the e-mail her teacher sent us. I am still amazed how well she reads for a seven year old. I am positive she pretends to struggle with the larger words.

As she read, she reached the part where her teacher said that my daughter, “… did not know what the words meant…“ My daughter immediately exclaimed, “Hey, I know what those fucking words meant!”

She did not say fucking, but I clearly heard it in her tone of contempt. She then nodded, as if saying, See, I told you so! as she continued to read, acknowledging that the teacher had corrected herself.

I found it oddly comforting that my daughter wanted the facts to be correct.

After revisiting our ‘appropriate time and appropriate place’ philosophy, with her agreeing her choice was poor, we discussed a further penal reminder – some action that would assist her in remembering not to swear at school.

For this, she was ready. She had come prepared. Plus, she was stoic, showing none, not even feigned remorse. This was clearly another parental authority challenge.

Her teacher said no recess. She said, ”Fine.”

Channeling my parenting skills training, having learned them by watching The Simpsons, in addition to my own decorated past experience of writing lines and cleaning chalkboards, I said, “Lines”. She said, “Fine.”

I will not swear at school.

“I want you to write that one hundred times,” I sentenced. She said, “Fine.”

I thought, Shit.

Then, I said no TV or video games. She said, “Fine.”

I would have also taken her cell phone or car privileges away, but she’s still only seven, I think. However, I’m certain her response would have remained the same. “Sure Dad. Fuck You. Fine.”

A wonderful friend later advised me that it is better to take away the chargers than the actual devices. It is truly a joy watching children witness, in their absolute horror, with no hope of revival, the battery life disappear before their very eyes. That was a demented and revolutionary concept, a deviously clever method of torture, which has now been added to my quiver of punishments, or rather, teachable moment tools.

“Fine.”

The other parental unit piped up, instructing the girl should wash the hardwood floor in the kitchen. She was familiar with this. She had done this before. She knew exactly what it entailed. On her knees. Knee pad. Wet cloth. Paper towels. Spray bottle with cleaning solution. Garbage can.

“Fine.”

The dumbfounded units looked at each other, shrugging, “What the fuck?” This girl was not rattled. At that point, I knew, I absolutely knew, I was outmatched and outclassed in this battle. My daughter had calculated, and had completed a risk-reward analysis of the act of laying down a blue strip of language with her peeps by the slides. She had prepared for this. Aghast, I looked over at my son and felt our telekinetic powers at work. He was sending me a message.

Yes, boy. That will work. Brilliant!

He then returned to his breakfast, grinning like an evil genius that has just bettered his sister.

“No Captain Underpants movie for you this weekend,” I salvoed.

My daughter froze, fork in mid-air with her cantaloupe hovering above her plate.

Gotcha, Sweetie!

At that moment, I was so proud of myself, but so terribly confused. I fought my grin. My cheeks hurt from not smiling; a struggle of facial muscles I did not know existed. I was taking too much satisfaction in this victory over my young, innocent child. It was a battle of superpowers, but I had found her kryptonite.

The negotiation then began, but she still had not shown her frustration. Her voice remained steady as she, in this tennis match of wills, served first, before she calmly placed that piece of melon in her mouth.

“Dad, how about if I miss all of my recesses next week?”

Excellent opening offer. Very generous, but maybe, just maybe, a bit too desperate.

“Nope,” I coldly responded, turning my back to her to look at the weeds in our backyard.

“How about…” she continued asking through breakfast, peppering me with varied opportunities of mediation.

Nope. Nope. Nope.

I win. I win. I win.

But a strange thing happened while she was washing the floor. I was standing above her, directing her to the sticky spots that had collected dirt, and telling her she had missed a spot whenever I could, when I noticed something. Not complaints. Not frustration. Not tears of any kind. I noticed calmness. It smelled like victory. And my daughter was humming.

OMG!

Was she mocking me?

What did she know that I didn’t?

How was she not breaking under this clearly irresponsible, bad parenting pressure that would scar the most balanced kid?

She was up to something and I just did NOT know what. I kept reminding myself that she was only seven years old!

How? What? What the fuck?

Later that afternoon, when I brought the popcorn, drinks, and 3-D glasses to their leather theatre seats, I felt my daughter’s eyes on me as I sat next to her. After the lights went down, she fed me some of her popcorn, and then placed her head on my shoulder when the movie began.

Gotcha, Daddy.

 

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