For the first time ever, Bean got in trouble at school today. Really, the kid has NEVER gotten a bad report at school. I don’t even know what their discipline procedures are because he’s never come close to having to use them. Bean is the kind of kid who loves structure, exploration and encouragement – all of which are cornerstones at his school. He’s never really had a reason to get into trouble. He likes to follow directions. He likes to participate. I used to worry that he was going to be a little nerdy guy because he was so straight and narrow, but he’s actually pretty popular with the kids in his class. His teachers tell us all the time that kids always want to sit with him, and he’s always being invited to birthday parties and play dates.
He’s just one of those kids.
But today he decided to be one of those other kids.
I walked in to pick him up, and his teacher came up to me and said she needed to talk to me for a minute about an incident Bean had in class today. “Michael,” she said kindly to him. “Can you tell your mom what happened today on the playground?”
“I hit Austin,” Bean said.
His teacher went on to explain that Bean had hit one of his classmates on the playground, and then got in trouble not 15 minutes later for throwing mulch at another kid after being asked to stop. She said they normally put kids in the “thinking chair” for that kind of behavior, but Bean had become so upset when his teacher got onto him that she decided he didn’t need to suffer more through a time out. (Have I mentioned that I love his teacher?) I told his teacher that we would certainly talk to Bean about it at home.
When we got outside of his classroom, I stopped Bean in the hallway and got down on my knees so that I was at his level.
“Michael,” I said quietly. “Did you hit Austin?”
Immediately, he dropped his head, sagged his shoulders, and hung his arms down by his side.
“Yes,” he said without looking at me.
“Do we hit people, Michael?”
“No, we don’t,” I agreed. “You are a good boy, Michael. You don’t hit people. I really don’t like that behavior.”
“I’m sawwy,” he said.
“When we get home, you’re going to have to tell Daddy what happened, and no dessert tonight after dinner.”
Which is when the real tears began. Dessert is king at our house. They didn’t last long, though. We went to pick Gracie up from her class, and Bean perked up when he saw her. I didn’t bring up the incident anymore until Chris got home from work. There was no point in rubbing his nose in it.
When Chris got home from work, we called Bean into the kitchen so he could tell Chris about school.
“Tell Daddy what happened on the playground at school today, Bean,” I said.
“I hit my friend,” Bean said.
And that’s when it happened.
I started laughing so hard I could hardly catch my breath. I have no idea what got into me. But the harder I tried to get myself together, the harder I laughed. Maybe it was Bean’s pathetic little stance? Maybe it was what he said? Maybe because the idea of Bean hitting someone and then throwing mulch at them was so unlike him it seemed absurd? Or maybe I’m just incredibly immature and a terrible parent?
Whatever the reason, as Bean stood there looking pathetic and defeated, and as Chris tried to keep a straight face while I cracked up, I just about wet my pants. I had to duck out of the kitchen and leave Chris with Bean because I couldn’t get myself together.
In the end, Bean had to give up dessert and he has to apologize to his classmate when we get to school tomorrow morning. As for me, I’ll be leaving disciplining up to Chris for a while because, apparently, I not only TEACH immature middle schoolers, but I AM an immature middle schooler…