Have you ever gotten a phone call from the vice principal of your child’s school? It’s literally dreadful the way you might imagine getting fired from your job might be. I never want to answer the phone when I see it’s the school calling. No one from school ever calls with good news, do they? “Oh, hey, Mrs. Clark! I am just calling to tell you that Gavin single-handedly revived chivalry at school today and held the door open for the entire fourth grade after recess.” Nope. Uh uh. I mean, I don’t think Gavin would necessarily do such a thing to warrant such a call, but still…I have never heard of another parent getting such calls and I know there are some darn nice kids in this area. Mostly, our calls have been about sick Clark children. One was a bit more serious … a troubled child had threatened to “kill” Grace in retaliation for something another child had done to him. Poor Grace was just the first face he saw and was an innocent victim of the outburst. Everything’s fine. Everything was handled appropriately.
This year, however, I got the phone call that may just take the cake.
I was in the movie theater with Gavin, Grace and some friends when my phone rang. I let it go to voicemail, because, well…I was in the movie theater. I picked up the voicemail to hear a mostly cheerful message from the vice principal at Gavin’s school. “There was an incident on the playground at recess. Everything’s OK. I am almost positive Gavin’s on the periphery, but I did want to make you aware of the situation. Can you please call me back?”
I texted Kenny and asked him to call because…well, I was in the movie theater. He was delighted with the assignment. I am definitely a giving wife. Passing out the jobs that make me personally uncomfortable. Hahaha.
Turns out, our dear, sweet, loving, lovable, kind, brilliant, mature, confident son had stumbled off the path of perfection we’ve been so perfectly paving since late 2006. (Sarcasm! Sarcasm! Honestly, we’ll be happy if – as an adult – he’s happy and kind and has minimal therapy bills.)
In reality, though, it seems we’ve got quite the agreeable kid on our hands – you know, the kind who says yes to almost anything his peers might ask him to do. (Our parenting flash forwards are terrifying! Yea. Pass the vodka.) Like his parents, he doesn’t like confrontation or to ruffle feathers. Apple. Tree. Ground. You know…the kind of kid who, when asked if he wants to join a fourth grade ‘gang’ says, “Sure.” Now, I know that gangs are quite serious and nothing to joke about…but…but…
I can only sum it up like this: his assigned ‘gang name’ was FRUIT LOOP or FROOT LOOP… I don’t know which is cooler. None, really, if we’re being honest. He didn’t get to pick…apparently. His gang mates included Bubble Nugget, Waffles, Shirley Temple (Yea. Yep.), and more… these are only the ones we can remember.
Now, FROOT LOOP’s parents had to speak with the vice principal because the leader of the gang thought it was a good idea to “rough kids up” when they said “no” to being in the gang. Like would legit grab them by the shirt and shake them or something. Apparently, Gavin never went beyond saying “yes” to being in the gang and couldn’t even explain what a “gang” was, but that “yes” made him culpable. We explained to him what gangs are (in very clear terms), and set out on the road of some serious lesson learning – including an apology note to the principal and vice principal for disrespecting rules and other children. I suspect that most of the lesson will fade as time passes, but maybe, just maybe, he’ll think twice before saying “yes” to something he truly doesn’t understand – that’d be a major parenting (and kid!) win. And, if not, I am quite sure all Kenny or me will need to do is refer to him as FROOT LOOP, and it will come rushing back.
If your child happened to be caught up in FROOT LOOP’s peripheral gang days, we are truly sorry. Hopefully, these days are well behind us, and our son’s on a good path of being kind and inclusive.
FROOT LOOP’s PARENTS – Out.
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