"Your Five Year Old: Sunny and Serene"

Sometime, on a freezing morning in January, a well mannered mother might find herself in the middle of a standoff in front of an elementary school. One participant might be a five year old who recently ran screaming through the halls “There is a substitute in there! I am not going to any classroom with a substitute!” The other participant might be the kind and patient Principal of the school who probably has about 382 other things she could be doing at that particular moment including going inside to get warm. So. You ask yourself, “What is the well mannered mother to do?” Clearly, physical violence is out. Same with threats and bribes. If she chases him he will run home. (So much for “walk to school” being a desirable attribute when selecting a house). Plus it would be undignified. But really, she probably passed dignified about 15 minutes ago. Around that time the Principal might kindly offer the advice that ‘He should not be allowed to think going to school is a choice.” How wise. How true. ‘How the hell am I going to get him back in the building?' The well mannered mother might be thinking. Eventually, the Principal might decide she is dealing with a hopeless case and head back inside. At that point the mother may scoop her darling boy up in her arms and carry him to the front door of the school, humming gently to block out all the noise. The lovely school nurse might open the door for him and say, “Hello! All your friends are wondering where you are. Will you walk down to the kindergarten with me? “ He may give the nurse a winning smile, take her hand and walk down the hall chatting politely as if the last half hour had never happened. At this point the well mannered modern mother should take a deep breath, and turn her mind to the rest of her day, knowing she did the best she could and that her son will be just fine.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How is it that children share the same principle of "saving face" as the Japanese? The school nurse (or the young swim instructor or the red rather than blue shirt or the apple rather than grapes) gave the five-year-old the opportunity to change direction seemingly with reason. If only mothers could recover as effortlessly.

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