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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gandhi's Primer for Pre-school

I really love the honesty of children.

Their innocence.

The way they can say the gosh darndest thing one moment.

And then make you want to rip your hair out the next.

Oh? Excuse me?

That doesn't happen to you? Hmmm.... Oh - after they do the "gosh darndest" thing, they then help you put out a 4 course dinner?

Fabulous. Don't let that one go, I say. As a matter of fact, if you were standing next to me, I might look at you with just a teensy bit of dementia in my eyes as I affirmed the statement, "Yup, you got yourself a good one!" and then went off in a corner by myself, vacillating between laughing maniacally while crying.

And not the pretty cries, but the kinds where you get big boogers streaming down your face and you do that weird frog thing in your throat - as the boogers somehow make it way to your hair.

The same hair I just spoke of ripping out.

Because, see? I often want to rip my hair out. This could be my children. It could be me. It could be any combination there of. It could be that I need to get all of my meds re-evaluated.

That just might be it.

So, where was I going with this? Seriously, I am not being facetious - I have no effing clue where I was going.

That's how I feel most days lately. But at least I know how to accessorize with boogers.

Oh. Yes. Got it!

So, my folks are visiting from New Jersey. I have a week off from work and am watching the kids this week, with the nanny on vacation.

My daughter, Shaila has been getting wacked in the head at pre-school by a kid who continually pushes and hits the kids. Look, I am not saying that this kid has issues. All I know is that he continues to wallop my kid in the face and she cannot talk about ANYTHING else.

Me: "Shaila, how was school?"
Shaila: "Oh, it was good. Bobby smacked me in the face!"

Me: "Shaila! You look like you're in a good mood! Tell me what you did today at school!"
Shaila: "Yeah Mommy! I am! And guess what? Bobby didn't hit me today - he hit Brady instead!"

Yesterday was much of the same, but my dad was in the car with me.

Me: "Shaila - who did you play with today?"
Shaila: "Awww with Sandy - she is my best friend. And Bobby was not there. So he could not hit."

At this point, my father piped in from the front seat.

Papa: "Does Bobby hit?" He turned around to face her in her Britax.
Shaila: "Does Bobby Hit? Bobby. Does. Hit. A LOT!"

I didn't expect this to be a surprise for my father as we had prepped our families for her utter fascination with this boy's less than pacifist methods of communicating at pre-school.

My father turned around and looked at Shaila in her car seat. Good, I thought, let her grandfather get a chance to talk to her about the ways of the world.

"Shaila. Listen to me. If he hits you. If this Bobby hits you, even once - YOU hit him. TWICE."

Huh? What just happened?

Shaila: "Two times?!!" her eyes had taken up all of her face. "Mommy, Two Times!! That's this many fingers!" she said, holding up her hands. "SMACK! SMACK!"

At least she can count . . .

Papa: "Yes! And make sure you hit him hard. Make sure he gets hur . . . ." My father started demonstrating with a raised fist.
Me: "Papa!" Realizing too late the error of my ways.

Papa: "What? Why are you getting mad at me? Bobby is the one who hits her? Shouldn't you be mad a him?" He looked at me incredulously.

You know. Like I was crazy.

Me: "Um, Papa. He's 3. You're kind of . . . well . . . NOT 3."

But my dad was on a roll.

Papa: "So what? So she is supposed to sit there and wait for this kid to make his move? I would rather she just be the one. Watch this, Shaila. "Slap! Slap!" Just do it. He's already done it to her."

Taking another tactic, I thought that I would appeal to my Indian father in one of the best ways I could, especially around the topic of violence.

Me: "Papa - we don't teach Shaila that. Besides, Papa. What would Gandhiji say about this if he knew you were teaching violence for violence? Hmmm?" I gave him my best pointy eyebrow, because that usually makes me feel more right.

My father was already shaking his head at my and looking at me like I was a complete moron. Like I was a sucker.

Papa: "There is no place for Gandhiji in this world. In this world if someone bombs you, you bomb them twice. If they hit you, you hit them harder and then even hit their weak cousin. That's what the world today teaches you. Gandhi wouldn't know what to do with himself in this world."

When the movie, "Gandhi" came out in the early 80's, my parents dragged me in my five year old form to watch Ben Kingsley give his Oscar winning performance of one of the world's greatest thought leaders. I didn't appreciate it then, especially when I asked for Twizzlers and somehow ended up with the yucky black kind - but I did love it as soon as I was old enough to understand.

I looked at my father. He certainly has changed as he has gotten older. He muttered something under his breath that I couldn't quite catch.

I think it actually was "If someone farts on you, you better make sure you fart back louder."

But my Hindi is out of practice, so I can't be sure.

The point being - my father has always been a fairly peace loving man. To hear him sound so downtrodden about ideals that I still wish the world could believe in saddens me to no end.

And if there is no place for the ideals of Gandhi anymore, I think I want to go back to that corner I mentioned earlier in this post and cry - you know - those hearty and booger filled ones.

Because without that kind of grace to inspire me, why would I even bother?

So I go to one of my favorite "Gandhi" inspired quotes . . .

"An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind. "

And so that's what I need to teach my own kids - because I still believe in those principles.

Some may call me a sucker. I am still not sure what the rest would call me. But it works for me.


P.S. names have been changed to protect the innocent. Except for Shaila's because the verdict is still out on how innocent she really is ;)


SurferWife said...

I am right there with you, Love. I don't believe in an eye for an eye.

UNLESS it's on the football field.

Then all hell breaks loose. Jason tells me about some kid that knocked him down and calls him dumb during a tackle football game? I tell Jason, "You show him with your strength, not your words. Get angry and tackle his pansy ass harder."

Umm. What? Aggression has to be taken out somewhere and a tackle football game is the perfect venue!! ;)

Kathy's Klothesline said...

I am a mother and I feel your pain! I tried to teach them to do the right thing, even when I wanted to tell them to kick some major a$$! But ...... now that I am a Gramma and someone bothers one of my grandchildren ...... well, all bets are off! I understand your dad!!

nmaha said...

I've in a similar place. My daughter is the youngest in her class by 4 months and she gets picked on by a couple of the oldest girls. She hates to retaliate. But lately I've told her to immediately tell her teacher and taught her a few karate blocks. Hitting back may or may not be right, but blocking a hand in self-defense surely is acceptable.


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