“I think he has vacation hangover.” He’d had a rough day yesterday, too. The note that came home said, “During lesson he got mad and decided to scribble o his paper and make a paper airplane…he threw his cup and the crayons went everywhere…” Ultimately he had two office visits and a bunch of broken crayons.
Today, the director told me, “He’s taking off his shoes and socks.”
“Oh, he’s doing the ‘I’ll-show-you! I’m-gonna-get-naked” routine?”
We both giggled. The director has two sons of her own.
I couldn’t imagine what had happened. I was sure he was going to start off his day on a better note. I had talked to him about how he might apologize to Ms. So-and-so and how the conversation could go: “I’m sorry for my behavior yesterday” or “I’m sorry for how I acted.” He informed me that he thought “I’m sorry” would do it.
I told him, “I’m sure she’ll forgive you.”
“Well, for one thing, she’s Christian.” And for another, she isn’t going to take your tantrum personally, I thought.
“Oh. Right.” And all Christians are nice and all not-Christians are not-nice.”
“No, no, no, honey. Being Christian doesn’t necessarily mean being nice. It just means following Christ. We try to be nice but no one is perfect. And, there are also a lot of not-Christians who are perfectly nice.”
I continued, “I just mean that you know she knows the Lord’s Prayer: ‘forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.’ ”
So, I couldn’t imagine where things could have taken a turn for the worse. It was only 10:30 when the director called me.
“Can I talk to him?”
She handed him the phone.
“Hi, honey,” I said.
He began to sob.
“Are you having a hard day?”
“Yeah-ah-ah,” he wailed.
“What happened? You started off great today…”
“Honey, you can start your day over any time. Just start over.”
The sobbing continued.
“I love you. Ms. So-and-so loves you. God loves you. No matter what.”
The director got back on the phone, “I feel so bad for him.”
“Yeah, me, too. But I am not coming to get him.”
“Oh, no, I wouldn’t recommend it!”
“Giving in to that manipulation would set a bad precedent. Can you just let him have his lovey?” I asked. He usually only has it at nap time. “And please let him know I’ll be in a little early today. 5:00ish. We have baseball.”
When I arrived at the school that evening, it was closer to 5:30 since baseball had been postponed because of the rain. And when I walked into the classroom, my son was sitting on the floor defiantly with his shoes off.
“Uh oh…” I said.
He saw me and burst into tears. Apparently he was refusing to clean up a bin of plastic dinosaurs he had dumped out. He ran towards me and I lifted him into my arms. “I never have a good day at school,” he despaired.
I sat down in one of the pint-sized chairs next to the table where all the dinosaurs were strewn, and held him and rocked him, wordlessly.
After a few minutes, “Let’s go get lovey and he can help you clean up the dinosaurs.”