So, my summer hasn't even officially started yet, and Mr. Momhood has already posed its first dilema. A few weeks ago, my not-quite-five-year-old daughter decided that it was imperative for her to go to work with me. I simply explained that it wouldn't really work for her to be in my classroom while I was trying to teach because she is so darn cute that all my students would be wanting to pay attention to her instead of me. She then proceeded to explain to me that if the students were paying attention to her than she would just teach my class. When asked what she would teach considering I teach English and she can't even read, she stated that she would teach about painting fingernails and toenails in a way that made me feel like an idiot for even asking the question to begin with. I was eventually able to table the subject for the time being and assumed that it would fade from her consciousness as quickly as it had appeared.
It did not take long for me to realize that this was faulty thinking on my part, for it has become abundantly clear to me over the past few years of raising my children, that the mind of children under the age of (well, I'll let you know when it stops working this way) works much different that those of an adult. You see, when you tell a four year-old about something fun, they will make sure they remember by asking you about it every thirty-nine seconds (this statistic may vary depending upon your child) until said activity is completed. Expecting them to remember not to stick their tongue out at their sister or to not pull their dress over their head during church, however, is outside the realm of possibility. So, for a few days, my daughter asked me before work, after work, at dinner, during bedtime, in the middle of bedtime story, and as I was kissing her goodnight when she was going to go to work with me. Finally, I broke down and said that she could go with me on report card day to help give report cards to my homeroom students.
From that point on, report card day began to hold a special significance for my daughter, one I'm sure she will get over by the time she is the age of my homeroom students, and she has spent quite a bit of time in preparation for this glorious event. One day, while coloring pictures in her coloring book, she decided that her most recent masterpiece should be for one of my students. She asked me to name them, so I rattled off the nine students remaining in my homeroom, and she picked one at random to bestow her artwork. Upon deeper introspection, she decided it would not be fair in this or any other universe for that one, single student to have a picture of Strawberry Shortcake and for the other eight to have nothing but a boring piece of paper with grades printed on it. We then spent the next few hours picking pictures and coloring them for each of the students in my homeroom. She put a lot of thought into which pictures should be selected for distribution and asked me many questions about favorite colors and who like butterflies, etc., etc.. My job was simply to tear the pictures out and spell the names for her to write on the pictures.
Once all of the pictures were completed, it was only a matter of waiting for report card day... or so I thought. While driving home today, Report Card Day Eve, my daughter asked when report card day is. I responded that it is tomorrow, and her little girlie joy spread to informing her little brother that she was going and he was not. As you can imagine, this did not go over very well with my son. He became highly distraught that he would be left home with his mother while his big sister had the privelege of experiencing the magical joy and wonder of report card day. I thought the easiest thing to do would be to just let him go with us, so I extended the invitation. Problem solved. Wrong. My daughter then became equally disturbed that what had started as her big day with daddy had now become something she had to share with her brother. I decided to use my surefire crisis intervention plan and told them both to calm down and that we would talk about it when we got home.
This bought me about ten minutes. Luckily, for a quick-thinking superhero dad such as myself, this was all I needed. I occupied my daughter with a game of memory on my iPod Touch and sat down for a little man-to-man with my nearly three year-old son. I explained to him that report card day was something special that I had promised his sister and that he would get to spend that special time with mommy. I also explained that since his birthday is this weekend, it would soon be his turn to go to his very first St. Louis Cardinals baseball game, a tradition that we started with his big sister on her third birthday. He seemed pretty excited about getting to go to a game with me, so I reiterated that he would be staying home with mommy in the morning. It was at this point that I remembered my sons inability to keep a train of thought. He had already forgotten that this all had a connection to him not going to report card day and became upset again. I repeated this about twice before I gave up the horrible idea I had that I would be able to calmly reason with him. As of the writing of this blog, he has forgotten about report card day entirely. My plan now is to not mention it in his presence for the rest of his natural life and hope that he is still asleep when my daughter and I leave in the morning. I will post the results of this plan once they have been fully assessed.