Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Best of Times, Worst of Times

John is driving me right up the wall. After meeting with the teacher last Thursday, I thought we were back on track. But on Friday he didn't bring his assignment book home (which has to be done every day). So I pulled out the big guns and brought out a punishment that Ma Krup laid on me when I stayed out one night without calling home.

On Saturday, I made him clean the house.

Frankly, it was amazing. I haven't been very good about making him stick to chores, mainly because that when (ha!) I do chores, I like them done a certain way (ha!). Or maybe I'm just lazy. But on Saturday, I told John how to do the following, and he did: scrubbed the sink, counter, floor (three times, because he didn't do it right the first or second times), and toilet in the bathroom; scrubbed the kitchen floor; wiped down kitchen counters, vacuumed and dusted in the living room; did three loads of laundry; did four loads of dishes.

It was actually a really good day. I wasn't mad or punitive; we talked a lot. He learned about "not tested on animals" (we used a lot of Dr. Bronner's soap and baking soda), as well as how you need to be careful with some cleaning supplies (the Magic Eraser). When I told him not to rub the Magic Eraser on himself even though it felt soft, he said, "Huh. Mr. Clean seems like he wouldn't make anything that would hurt people!" Ah, corporate icons, do you ever really fail us?

He also mentioned that there are a couple of bullying high-school boys on the bus. Not physically bullying, but that menacing, taking-up-space and name-calling bullying. They move the backpacks of younger kids and sit next to them. John said they call him "He-She" because of his shaggy hair. And they make fun of a kid of unknown age (older than John, but younger than the bullies) "...just because he's skinny, has buck teeth and glasses!" John said indignantly as he scrubbed the kitchen floor. "I mean, those aren't any reasons to make fun of someone!"

Having had two of the three afflictions, I agreed, but my heart sank for the kid of unknown age for hitting the trifecta. John said he and this kid sometimes sit together because they're the last two kids on the bus, and they talk about their annoying younger sisters and Legos and so on.

I asked John what would happen if all the younger kids got together and yelled at the same time, "KNOCK IT OFF" when the two bullies started in. He shrugged and said they would probably keep making fun of them. "That happens already," I said. "Yeah, I know," he replied.

John doesn't have to be the one to stand up. He doesn't have to if he doesn't want to. But I hope he sees that he can if he does want to, and that good things happen when people stand up.

Yesterday he told me that one of the hangers-on was making fun of the trifecta kid's name, and John leaned over and said, "Hey, quit calling him that. His real name is [name]."

"And what happened?"

John shrugged. "He stopped. And that was it."

I was proud. On the other hand, he forgot his assignment book again yesterday. So I'm proud, but I'm pissed, too.


  1. Dammit! Why oh why aren't you my next-door neighbor? (shakes fist at heavens)

  2. Trudi7:37 PM

    Is John ready to be an activist?

  3. PK: I know! Or vice-versa!

    Trudi: What a great story. The problem is, I think it'll take awhile for all the boys to grow their hair out. :p