Zane was all on board with us, until last week. Last week, he decided that, no, he would not be attending school this year.
"Next year," my son said.
I patiently explained about nonrefundable deposits and how they were NONrefundable, but this meant little to my son because I did not preface my explanation with the words "Lego", "Ninjas", or "Candy". I finally just told him that he had to go to school because Mommy and Daddy had to go to work, and that was that. School is, after all, the "job" of the child; they just get paid in different currency.
The morning of the big day, Larry and I were both up before the alarm, our anxieties on high alert. We kept our game faces on, however, so Zane would be more amenable about going to school. We let him pick out his favorite soccer jersey, some team called Chelsea. We let him pick out his shoes. We tried to feed him breakfast, but he wasn't interested, so we bundled him into the car and drove to school, just like 14,000 other people did. 14,000 people, a parking lot that holds 100...it was chaos.
We thought that Zane would be impressed with all the other kids attending his school. He wasn't. Instead, we got this:
We didn't exactly drag the boy to his classroom, but Zane walked with all the enthusiasm of the condemned. This was just pitiful.
|Scientists have previously only observed this sort of behavior in the American teenager; large, well-funded grants are needed to study this new phenomenon.|
Now, here is where I could have been a firm disciplinary type. I could have clearly stated limits and offered incentives. I could have, but I did not. Instead, I did what many, many parents before me have done: I offered a bribe.
"If you smile and go into your class and listen to your teacher, I will bring you a 'SUPER SECRET SURPRISE'." At my words, the boy perked right up. He wanted to know what the surprise was, of course, but I felt that I should honor the definition of the word 'surprise'. Zane will do many things for a 'SUPER SECRET SURPRISE'. Even if the 'SUPER SECRET SURPRISE' is a piece of candy.
Gone was the dragging of feet. Now Zane was all smiles and downright perky. We went into his class, he met his teacher, he sat at a table, there were Legos...and he was fine. Zane was just fine with the world. Which I hope his teacher appreciated, since several other kids were screaming and crying their fool heads off as their parents left the room. They probably should have included ear plugs on the list of office supplies.
I did hold it all together until we got out of the classroom. All the other moms in the office told me that I would cry, and they were right. I cried on the way back to the car. I cried in the car on the way to work. I cried when I got to work and people asked me how it went.
I'm a softie about some things, I guess. Watching Zane grow up has been a joy, and it seems like this day got here too quickly. I wanted a little more time to enjoy his being a little boy, I guess. A little more time to hug him and play Ninja Shark vs. Pirate T-Rex But just like I'm getting older and creakier, my child is growing up. We both have to deal with it.