Friday, September 05, 2008

The War on Crime

Well, Luke’s first week of first grade is now complete. All in all, it went really well. He seems to like it a lot. Last night I asked him to rate it on a scale from one to ten, and he gave it a 100.

I’m overwhelmed by the drop-off procedure, myself. Gone are the days of three neat and tidy kindergarten lines in the front of the school, patrolled by the crossing guard kids and at least one adult monitor. Now we walk to the back of the school to the huge concrete expanse and three large playgrounds, where all of the kids—I’m not sure how many, exactly, but it’s got to be hundreds—run around until the bell rings. Then they run and line up in the designated line spot for their class. I find it draining. And this is all before 8:15 in the morning.

So it is no wonder that Luke seems utterly exhausted when I pick him up six and a half hours later. It is hard for me to see him so tired and dazed. It usually takes him a snack, a video, and some cuddles and book reading before he can really tell me about his day.

Last night we went out to eat at a local pub, as is our custom on Thursday nights. We go during the happy hour so that the beer and appetizers are half price. The boys color and watch sports on TV while eating French fries, and we drink half price beer. We were all talking about the day, and Luke casually mentioned that one of his former kindergarten classmates, J, bit a boy—one of Luke’s friends and current classmates, H—on the back of the neck during recess.

“Did he get in trouble?” I asked.

“Yes, he had to sit on the thinking wall for all of recess, and he lost his Popsicle during the Popsicle party,” answered Luke.

“Oh,” I answered, relieved to hear that the recess monitors were doing their job. One of my fears is that recess is chaotic and all Lord of the Flies, although I really have no idea what it is like. And not that I’m scared Luke will be a victim. I’m more scared that Luke will be a bully.

“But before they took J to the thinking wall, we got in a fight!” Luke proclaimed.

“Oh,” I said, trying to remain calm and casual. “You got in a fight? What kind of a fight?”

“A bully tangle,” said Luke resolutely.

“A what?” I asked, visions of West Side Story dancing in my head.

“I told J, ‘You better stop it right now!’ and he said ‘No!’ and I said ‘Yes!’” explained Luke. “We said mean words.’”

“Oh, okay,” I answered, relieved. He was really just standing up for his friend H.

Henry is developing his own ideas these days about how to maintain order. As we were walking to pick up Luke from school, Henry said, “I wish I was in a video game with bad guys and I could chop them all up with a knife.”

Now, had I not gone through this very stage with Luke when he was just Henry’s age, I would have been disturbed. But Henry has the benefit of being the second child, and I know that Luke began speaking this way at age three in order to make sense of “good” and “bad.”

“Well, what if you could teach the bad guys to be good?” I asked.

“I told them and told them to be good,” said Henry, “but they didn’t listen.”

“Well, what if you just put them in jail instead of chopping them up?” I asked.

Henry paused, considering this alternative.

“Okay, I would chop them up then lock them in the zoo.”


Beck said...

Well, that's only fair. You can't ask for a more balanced approach than that.

Molly Sabourin said...

First grade was a big transition year for Priscilla. Going from half day to full day was a huge and draining change for her, at first, but she eventually adjusted. You should teach a class on loving and understanding little boys! In the meantime, just keep writing.

Great post Ser!

Nancy said...

I confess, it gives me great joy and relief to hear that about Luke's role in this biting story. He's a good kid, and I'd be really interested in how many compassionate, gentle adults started childhood by giving tooth impressions on their best friends. :)

I love how you write the daily life dialogues with the boys. I feel like I'm rightthere when I read them!

Cary Milkweed said...

If you have to chop up some bad guys, the zoo would be a great place for a bunch of dead meat.

Bully tangle! :')

paige maddex said...

Love it - I agree with Molly: keep writing.

As a therapist, I hated it when a kid was referred for NORMAL developmental stuff. You're an exemplary mom.

By the way, Isabelle wanted to "long kiss" Bobby the other day. Girls are no better.

so yung wilson said...

My favorite part (of any of your stories)? The Luke/Henry said, "x, y, & z", and I tried to stay calm and casual. Calm and casual reactions ... I think this is a key to general success in life.

I'm glad to see Luke using his strength, size, and intelligence for "good".

Bully Tangle ... it's going to make it into the American lexicon!