by Mimi Greenwood Knight
I’ve heard that the FBI holds extensive files on every American citizen – the good, the bad and the ugly. Sort of makes you wonder what’s in yours. Doesn’t it? But as the mother of a chatty, never-met-a-stranger 5-year-old who’s in kindergarten now, my concerns are much more immediate. To be perfectly honest and at the risk of sounding paranoid, I’m petrified of exactly what and how much my son’s kindergarten teacher is learning about me and mine.
My first three kids are on the quiet side, apt to speak only when they’re spoken to. But Jonah will talk to a post. I’m overreacting, of course, and it’s not like there’s anything that juicy in our family closet – or family tree, for that matter. I’m just worried about how it sounds coming out of Jonah’s mouth. You know, like, “Mom couldn’t find her running shorts this morning ‘cause they were under that “gi-ant-ic” pile in the laundry room, (I wouldn’t exactly call it “gi-ant-ic.”) Or, “You know, it’s the thing you serve punch with ‘cept Mommy uses it to get dead fish out of the fish tank.” (Of course, I always wash the punch bowl afterwards!)
Actually that’s mild for Jonah. This is the child who, after a half dozen lectures about not making personal comments about people, hollered to me across the crowded church hall, “Don’t worry, Mom. I’m not going to ask you why he’s so FAT until we get in the CAR.”
What Jonah thinks, Jonah says. And I’m not being paranoid when I imagine his teacher is hearing things such as:
“Mom said it was OK to eat my hotdog after we trimmed off the part the cat bit.”
“My Mom says you’re no-spring-chicken. What does that mean?”
“I don’t have to go down the hall to the bathroom. When we were stuck in traffic, I just use a coffee cup.”
“Here. This is for you. Aunt Gail gave it to Mommy but she didn’t like it.”
“If you open the bathroom door when my mommy’s on the toilet in a restaurant, she’ll slam it on your arm.”
My strategy with Jonah’s kindergarten teacher is the same as with other the three before her: ply her with baked goods and fresh flowers, pamper her at Christmas and Teacher Appreciation time and extol her virtues to the principal. And hope beyond hope that she’s raised a little blabbermouth of her own and understands that she should take anything Jonah says with a grain of salt. Really!
Mimi Greenwood Knight writes essays about the wild and wacky world of parenting from her home in Louisiana.