“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”Gilda Radner

Monday, October 17, 2011

First Grade Ain't Easy

Tonight at bedtime, Joey confided in me. He said that the kids at school must think he's a pickle-nosed pickle head. His little chin lifted up into his bottom lip, the way it does when he's trying not to cry. I now understand that when my mom said, "It hurts me, too," she wasn't kidding.

When I asked why, he said all the kids "laugh at him."

Can I just say I completely understand why?!

Joey is the funniest person. He tells really good jokes because he just GETS things, he loves to be goofy, and he loves to behave like a six-year-old stunt man. That's just funny stuff. And I've seen him interact with his school friends dozens of times. EVERYONE likes him--a LOT. In fact, his kindergarten teacher told me at the parent conference last year that he's everybody's friend, and is THE social butterfly of the class.

I asked him then for an example of what he meant. He said, "Well, like today. YOU forgot to give me my belt for my uniform, and everyone pointed and laughed that I forgot."

This was awful for two reasons (neither is that I forgot the belt--he forgot, too, so I don't really feel bad about that). The first reason is that I know that these first graders are not intentionally making fun of Joey. They genuinely like him and are just joking around with him. He'd likely do the same if the situation was reversed. Again, I know for a fact he's well-liked.

Secondly, I also completely know why he feels hurt by this. Joey loves being the funny man, but only when he MEANS to be funny. He doesn't understand that you can be unintentionally funny, that it's okay to laugh at yourself. I don't think I figured it out for myself until I was almost in college. I don't want him to feel self-conscious like that for so long. I remember that feeling; I'd do something equal to forgetting a belt, and watching my friends giggle about my mistake. The thought in my head was never, "This is humorous; it could happen to anybody." It was, "Oh, my God. They know the secret to being cool, and just figured out that I DON'T."

Of course I told Joey every lesson we've seen in every episode of Full House and Good Luck, Charlie, but I also knew from my own experiences that it meant nothing to him. It was probably worse when I said, "Well, I think you're cool," even though it's totally true. But I think it was worst of all when it became clear that I couldn't fix it. That it was past bedtime, that Joey was probably a little overtired, and that my Bob Saget advice was lame.

So I had to smooth his hair, kiss his forehead, and just promise him tomorrow would be better though I don't really know how tomorrow will be. But I'll tell you. If I find out someone really DOES think my baby is a pickle-nosed pickle head, this Mommy won't hold back.

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