A few months ago, our small boy had a school program where his starring line was actually a sentence fragment due to the vast number of kids who needed speaking parts and the apparent shortage of lines. He did a stand-up job delivering his half sentence clearly and with feeling: “The golden rule says that we should treat others . . . .” at which point a classmate chimed in to complete the sentence. If I’d realized what a difference it would make to his comprehension, I would’ve made him learn the whole thing but I incorrectly assumed that participating in the sketch about how to treat others would be sufficient. Wrong.
Fast-forward to yesterday where a typical after-school scene unfolded — the 7 year old was rushing around to gather her things for Acro class, our small boy and his oldest sister were slowly unpacking their book bags in a contest to see who could take the longest and do the most things inbetween what I’ve asked them to do. During this time, Spencer was talking non-stop about his day. Because we’d already covered the important parts on the drive home, I was really only listening with one ear (the other one had been talked off already) — he had a great day, they played outside, he kept all his smiles (the K4 equivalent of a punishment system is the removal of a smiley face from beside their names). Then he started talking about the ‘golden rule’. I’m half listening, half wondering where the red-headed Acro pixie is, watching the clock, checking my email, and getting a little annoyed that no one is unpacking a darned thing. Suddenly I hear my oldest say — “Um, really, Buddy?” And because the hair stands up on my head when I hear that tone from her, I turned around to see the raised eyebrow that strongly implies ‘mom, you need to ask him to retell this one’ — and I did. This is what I heard . . .
Spencer: Mom, you know how the golden rule tells us to do to others what they do to us?
Mom: Well, that’s not exactly it, but sure, go on.
Spencer: Well today someone kicked me, so I kicked them back — I told them I had to do it to them because they did it to me and I had to follow the golden rule.
I know it’s probably a reflection on my parenting but I honestly had to turn around so he wouldn’t see my facial expression and the laughing tears I was holding back. I tell you, I never thought the larger class size would be an issue — now I’m beginning to wonder!