It happened. Just like I knew it would. That call from the principal. The one that starts like this,
“Hello, Beth? This is Mrs. Principal. I have Aden here with me.”
I always greet the principal cheerfully. We are, after all, on the same page. The Teach My Daughter Appropriate Behavior page. The Please, Dear Child, Follow the Rules page. The Let’s Minimize the Calls from the Principal page. And the Come ON, Baby Girl, We Know You Can Do It page. There are a lot of pages. It’s a full-length novel we’re co-writing, and it’s been years in the making.
Mrs. Principal and I have had some good times. You can read all about the ways I owe this woman a magnum of excellent wine here:
“Well, hello, Mrs. Principal!” I said, cheerfully. I’m a fan. She knows I’m a fan.
Now, it’s no secret that I love my spunky little rule challenger or that I find her 9-year-old sass way, way too funny. By “it’s no secret,” though, I mean that it’s no secret from you, because God knows that I try to keep the “your behavior amuses me” secret from the child herself. I have a fundamental parenting problem, and its name is Laughter.
The vulnerable part of parenting a child Village-style comes in sharing the burden of enforcing natural consequences. It’s painful every time I must admit – either out loud or circumstantially – that I’m not enough. My parenting, though key, cannot by itself teach my child everything she needs to know. I somehow expected, when my children started school eons ago, to send them there for academic learning… and I forgot that they’re there equally to learn about life. And I am SO NOT KIDDING when I say that my cubs’ life lessons are sometimes hardest on the mama. It means opening up to strangers, trusting that my kids’ educators have their very best interests at heart, and standing together at a teaching team.
In other words, sending children to school is a lot like standing naked in an open field, arming a group of strangers who “gosh darn it, sure seem nice” with flaming arrows, and then trusting them to not use their weapons against me, or, worse, to point and laugh.
Overall, it’s gone well.
But, I’ll tell you; the very best part of parenting a child Village-style comes in sharing the joy of celebration. Reaping the rewards together. Because the rest of that call from the principal went like this:
“Beth? Aden’s doing great. She’s in my office because we’re calling you with good news.”
“She is? You are? I mean, she is! You are!”
A new voice jumps on the line.
“Hi, Aden. What happened?”
“Mom! I did a GREAT JOB! Mrs. Reading Teacher gave me a cert-issih… a cer-kiffa… a cer-kiffa-kick!”
“You got a certificate?”
“Yes! A certificate! That’s right, Mom! Good job!”
“Thanks, Aden. And WOW! What does it say?”
It was for excellence in reading, you guys! And it SO matters because it’s not just a certificate. It’s an acknowledgement of her Hard Work to Do the Right Thing. It’s a nod to her efforts to Follow the Rules. It’s a visual reminder that Hard Work Pays Off. And it’s this mama’s reminder to Join The Celebration.
This school thing isn’t all standing nekked in the field. Sometimes, it’s a party around a bon-fire… or around the refrigerator, where the cer-kiffa-kick is on proud display.
While I’m at it, I should also tell you that NONE of my kids have been suspended from school ALL YEAR. That’s 46 whole school days of non-suspensions. We are ROCKING it, y’all.
In fact, we just completed all of our kids’ parent/teacher conferences, and they’re all doing well. Seriously, you guys, I hardly know what to do with myself.
No. I take that back. I know exactly what to do.
Live. It. Up! Our next challenge is around the corner somewhere, and I’m well aware that I might be tempting it closer by leaving my good news out for attack. But that future challenge isn’t going to rob me of today’s celebration.
I’ll bet you anything that this is why they built the new elementary school with a giant staircase made entirely of wood.
It’s so parents can knock on it. All the way down.
Congratulations, baby girl, on a job really well done.
And Mrs. Principal? Good call.
P.S. If you’re looking for an easy peasy, fun, November treat for your family, check out my friend Sarah’s Harvest Caramel Corn. It’s similar to the caramel corn that I beg my friend Webb to make, and it’s always a favorite with my kids.
P.P.S. Don’t miss out on all of the Five Kids fun on Facebook. That’s where I micro-blog the short stories about things like, oh, sending my son out all day with his sister’s undies accidentally velcroed to his coat. Essential things, really. More importantly, Facebook has become the place where I get to converse with you daily and where we hold virtual hands to make it through the day. You’re the BEST people out there for sure.