Tag Archives: Kindergarten

Pottymouth Training, Vol. 2

Uh-oh.

Uh-oh.

I’ll never be able to look at him the same.

Not after yesterday.

Just 44 inches. He loves to tell me how tall he is.

The kindergartener mesmerized by dinosaurs and modern-day reptiles.

By action figures. By animated family films. By his favorite books and television shows.

So sweet at times. So innocent. Not yet scarred by the brutality of gaining life experience.

He couldn’t have said THAT.

Did You Order the Code Red?

At school, my five-year-old son’s kindergarten class has a color-coded system to indicate what kind of behavior the students displayed during the school day.

Green days are good.

Red days are bad.

The day my son exposed his penis to other boys in the bathroom just as a teacher poked her head in to check on them was a red day.

My ex-wife texted me thoughtfully last night to ask about the health of my grandmother who had an old-lady accident with her car. I told her that my grandmother seemed to be okay, and that I appreciated her asking.

She followed with a question.

“What color day did he have in school today?” she said.

“Orange. He was afraid to tell me,” I said.

Orange is the second-worst. Just a step shy of red.

“What did he do?” she said.

“Talking. Not following directions,” I said, because that’s what he told me, and which makes total sense because that’s what he’s always in trouble for, just like I was in grade school.

We exchanged “Have a good weekend”s and ended the conversation.

Maybe a half hour later, the phone rang.

My ex-wife again.

I answered.

“So, his teacher just emailed me. And he apparently said ‘motherfucker’ in school today. Somebody told on him, and he admitted to saying it,” she said.

My son instinctively knew the conversation we were having and buried his face into the couch, and wouldn’t look at me.

This was WAY worse than the times he said “dammit” a bunch in mature and appropriate ways.

And I instinctively panicked because between my ex-wife and I, I am absolutely the one he would have heard that from. I know that I’ve let the F-word slip in front of him before. At least twice.

But I don’t think I’ve dropped a mother-effer in his presence. But, honestly? I don’t know. Not knowing, I think, is bad enough and an indication that I need to be infinitely more conscious of the way I speak.

Then, I did what any sane father would do, and handcuffed my son to a chair in an all-white room and shone a heat lamp on his face.

“Who taught you how to say that word!?!? TELL ME!!! TELL ME NOW!!!”

And I kept waiting for him to yell back: “I learned it from YOU, motherfucker!!!”

But he didn’t. Just like I don’t really have an interrogation room in my house.

But sitting on the couch, and again in bed after our nightly prayers, I asked him several times to help me understand who taught him that word or where he heard it before—which I am convinced he knows the answer to—but he wouldn’t crack.

“No one taught me, dad,” he said over and over and over again.

The mystery remains unsolved.

I’m pretty cavalier with my language. More than I should be, even in the company of like-minded adults. But that word becomes infinitely more vile when you imagine it coming out of your five-year-old’s mouth—and poisoning the ears of other young children.

“I want the truth!” I yelled in my best Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men impersonation.

You can’t handle the truth.

And I’m not sure in this instance, the truth matters. The damage is done. My beautiful child knows how to say really bad words.

Even if he didn’t learn it from me, it’s still my fault.

And as an aside, can we all agree that saying “motherfucker” should totally earn you a red day in kindergarten? Orange? Come on now.

Everything’s Better in the Morning

I’m still reeling a little from the realization that it wasn’t a bad dream.

That my little boy said that.

Goodness. I remember using some language here and there. I remember my mom flipping out a little because she heard one of my friends use the F-word when we were in eighth grade. Her heart would have stopped if she’d been in any of our junior high sports team locker rooms.

But, kindergarten!? Honestly?

Too soon, right?

*deep breath*

He still reminds me how young and sweet he is. He was cute when he woke me up this morning, requesting omelets from Chef Dad.

“Okay, baby boy,” I said. “I’ll make omelets.”

Then I paused. Baby boy.

I still have a bad habit of calling him that.

“Buddy, I’m sorry. Dad shouldn’t call you that. You’re a big boy now,” I said.

“It’s okay, daddy,” he said, patting me on the arm. “You can still call me that.”

Okay, then. Maybe just a little bit longer.

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How to Feel Proud of Your Child

Learning-is-Fun

I’m hard on my son sometimes.

To the point where I make him angry. Because I want him to be the best person he can be even if that means he has to be upset with me for correcting him.

It’s like a dangerous high-stakes game. Risking his affection in exchange for his good behavior and character development.

I made him cry last night after scolding him for making a mess because he wasn’t following directions.

“You’re never nice to me,” he said.

We talked about that for about 15 minutes. I think he actually understood when I explained how I’m his father first, and his friend, second. And that my job is to help him learn lessons and be the best person he can be. That I must hold him accountable when he doesn’t follow rules.

He’s a good boy.

And I’m often very nice to him. And he knows it, too.

They Grow Fast

Too fast, most parents will tell you.

His loose tooth finally came out Sunday. So the tooth fairy visited for the first time overnight.

He was as surprised as some of my disapproving co-workers to discover $5 under his pillow.

I was brushing my teeth as he counted the single bills on the floor outside the bathroom.

“Dad, I can’t believe I got five dollars for one little tooth!” he said.

“What would you like to do with your money?” I said.

He thought for just a minute.

“I want to put it in my piggy bank,” he said.

“You do? What do you want to save your money for?”

“I want to save it so you can buy me presents for Christmas and my birthday,” he said.

I smiled.

“Buddy, you are so thoughtful. But that’s your money. Mom and dad will use our money to buy you Christmas and birthday presents. This money is for you,” I said.

“Okay. I still want to save it,” he said.

Good boy.

Little boys like to pull their pants down to their ankles when they first learn to potty standing up. It’s not a big deal at home. But it’s not the kind of thing you want them doing in public restrooms or at school.

This morning, he went potty while I was still finishing getting ready for the day. He did so without pulling his pants all the way down.

“Look dad! This is how I potty now!”

“You’re getting so big, buddy. I’m very proud of you,” I said.

Big boy.

We were running ahead of schedule this morning. So we took a few minutes to work on some at-home learning activities for school. He knew what the Mayflower was, the ship our early settlers used to come to America. Well, at least the version of the story they tell American children. I was just impressed he’d heard of the ship and could rattle off some history about it.

He told me all of the months in the calendar year, in the correct order. It was the first time I’d heard him do that.

Smart boy.

He stuck a large yellow smiley face sticker to my shirt this morning.
“So you remember to feel happy,” he said. “Every time you see it, I want you to feel happy.”

I haven’t taken it off.

Sweet boy.

He does this thing where he always wants to race me. Because it’s winter and he hasn’t learned to be careful yet, he slipped on a sheet of ice while sprinting toward the day care family’s house this morning. He fell pretty hard. Cried a little.

“Hey. You’re okay, bud. You’re tough,” I said.

He continued whimpering.

“You remember what we’re going to do after I pick you up after work?” I said.

“Get Christmas lights and marshmallows for hot chocolate,” he said.

And cracked my favorite smile.

“That’s right. Christmas lights and marshmallows. Now you go have a good day at school. I’m so proud of you.”

And off he ran to tackle his day.

Brave boy.

This morning my son displayed innocence. Delighted by the wonder of the Tooth Fairy’s overnight visit.

He displayed kindness and generosity. Wanting to contribute to the family Christmas fund.

He displayed wisdom by choosing to save his money rather than spend it.

He displayed maturity. Going potty in a more-thoughtful, more-grownup way. By demonstrating new things he’s learned at school and home.

He displayed resiliency. Falling. Being hurt. And getting up and shaking off the pain.

Finding his smile as he looked forward to the good times that lie ahead.

That’s my little man. My beautiful child.

Growing, growing, growing.

Thank you for being you, son. Every choice led me to you.

No regrets.

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The Penis Talk: A Conversation With My Five-Year-Old Son

simba and mufasa

Earlier this week, my son, who is in his third week of kindergarten, exposed his penis to other boys in the bathroom during school.

Everybody lost their collective shit. And by everybody, I mean his teacher, principal, day care lady, and mother. In that order.

There was a special parent-teacher conference this morning between my son’s teacher and mother to talk about behavioral expectations.

I take it seriously only insofar as I want my son to follow directions in school. To listen to his teacher. To be respectful and well mannered. To be well behaved and learn everything he can.

But he’s his father’s son. So goofing off in the bathroom with his friends makes total sense. I tend not to involve penises, but who knows what I was doing when I was five. Could have been super-penisy. Don’t remember.

I have had a couple talks with my son during bath time about what is and is not acceptable regarding his privates. Those talks had apparently fallen on deaf ears.

Because of the incident at school this week, I was forced to try again.

This is what that looked like.

The Penis Talk

Me: “Do you know what a penis is?”

Five-year-old: “No.”

Me: “What do you call your privates?”

Five-year-old: “Privates.”

Me: “What else do you call it?”

Five-year-old: “My peep.”

Me: “Yeah. Mommy always called it that. You know how we ask you to call farts ‘toots?’”

Five-year-old: “Yes.”

Me: “That’s because ‘toot’ is a nicer word. It’s the same thing with ‘penis.’ The real word for peep is penis. Adults just ask you to call it other names because the word ‘penis’ makes us uncomfortable. Can you say ‘penis?’”

Five-year-old: “Pee-nis.”

Me: “Good job. Do you remember getting in trouble at school this week?”

Five-year-old: “Yes.”

Me: “What happened?”

Five-year-old: “I didn’t follow directions.”

Me: “Right. What did you do to get in trouble?”

Five-year-old: “I don’t know.”

Me: “Yes you do. Mommy was really upset. Listen, you’re not in trouble. But when bad things happen you have to talk to mom and dad about it. Now tell me why you got in trouble, please.”

Five-year-old: “I did unpublic things. In public.”

Me: “Did you just say ‘unpublic?’”

Five-year-old: “Yeah.”

Me: “I guess that makes sense. What ‘unpublic’ thing did you do?”

Five-year-old: “I showed my privates.”

Me: “Why?”

Five-year-old: “Because everybody was goofing around.”

Me: “Were other kids showing their privates?”

Five-year-old: “No.”

Me: “Just you, then. Great. When you showed other kids your penis, did you dance and sing?”

Five-year-old: “No.”

Me: “Good. Buddy, I need you to tell me when it’s okay to take your penis out of your pants.”

Five-year-old: “I don’t know.”

Me: “You can figure it out. You’re smart. When is it okay to be naked? You do it every day.”

Five-year-old: “When I go potty.”

Me: “Yes! When you go potty. Very good. When else is it okay to take your penis out of your pants?”

Five-year-old: “When I’m taking a bath.”

Me: “Yes! Excellent. When you’re taking a bath. There is one other time when it’s okay to be naked. Do you know when that is?”

Five-year-old: “No.”

Me: “This one is tricky.”

Five-year-old: “You say it, dad.”

Me: “When you’re changing your clothes.”

Five-year-old: “Okay.”

Me: “What’s the big boy name for your peep?”

Five-year-old: “Penis.”

Me: “When is it okay to take your penis out?”

Five-year-old: “Going potty, taking a bath and getting dressed.”

Me: “Good job, dude. That’s exactly right. Do you know why it’s not okay to show your penis to people?”

Five-year-old: “No.”

Me: “I guess that’s good. It’s because it’s really private. Our penises are just for us. They’re not for other people. (I wasn’t ready to have THAT talk.) Do you know what would happen to daddy if he went outside right now and showed his penis to a bunch of people?”

Five-year-old: “No.”

Me: “I’d go to jail. It’s really, really bad, man. Do you want to go to jail?”

Five-year-old: “No.”

Me: “What kind of people go to jail?”

Five-year-old: “Policemen.”

Me: “Sometimes. They work there. But I mean the bad guys. What kind of people have to go live in jail?”

Five-year-old: “Robbers.”

Me: “Yes. Sometimes robbers. Do you know any other ways to go to jail?”

Five-year-old: “No.”

Me: “Good. Who is it okay to show your penis to?”

Five-year-old: “Just me. Do you know why ears are special?”

Me: “Why?”

Five-year-old: “So you can listen to stuff. That’s why they’re attached. You have ears too, daddy.”

Me: “Yes. Yes, I do. What if a kid at school asks you to show them your penis?”

Five-year-old: “Don’t do it.”

Me: “What if an adult asks you? A stranger?”

Five-year-old: “Don’t do it.”

Me: “Very good. What if your teacher asks you?”

Five-year-old: “Don’t do it.”

Me: “Exactly. What if someone tries to show you their penis?”

Five-year-old: “I’ll tell them to hide it. I’ll say no, no, no, no! Or maybe I’ll growl.”

Me: “You’ll growl? What will that sound like?”

Five-year-old: *growls*

Me: “Whoa. Scary.”

Five-year-old: “That’s a Tyrannosaurus Rex. That’s what I will do.”

Me: “Cool. When is it okay to take out your penis?”

Five-year-old: “Going potty. Taking a bath. Getting dressed.”

Me: “I’m proud of you, kid. Are you going to show anyone your penis anymore?”

Five-year-old: “I’m never going to take it out again. I’m never going to do it again, daddy. I promise.”

And there you have it. My son will never take his penis out in front of anyone again.

Just like his old man.

…..

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Grade School Shenanigans, Vol. 2: He Did What!?!?

It's important to me that my son not behave like this man. Nor like me.

It’s important to me that my son not behave like this man. Nor like me.

The two most-commonly told jokes in men’s restrooms among both acquaintances and strangers, go like this:

“Oh, so this is where all the dicks hang out.”

And, the one that always makes me laugh…

“Whew! That water is cold!”

The implication being, ladies, that the penises in question are so long that they dangle into the urinals or toilets below.

Penis jokes are at the very heart of who we are as men. They must be told. They must.

But appropriateness matters.

There is a time for decorum. And there is a time for air humping random objects.

The key is knowing the difference.

Everything He Needs to Know, He’ll Learn This Year

Dear Son,

Kindergarten Lesson #1: Do not expose your penis to other children. Because when you do, the teacher freaks out, the principal freaks out, the day care lady freaks out, and your mother freaks out.

And then I have to hear about it. And I have to punish you. And I have to talk about penises with you.

While I totally want to talk about penises with random people on the Internet and joke about them with friends, I do not really want to talk about them with you. It’s awkward. For both of us. But it looks like that’s going to have to happen, young man.

Which sucks balls.

Love,

Dad

So, yeah. That happened.

Yesterday at school, while some of the boys were in the bathroom, my son called attention to his penis, made a joke about it, and showed it to some kids, probably while dancing around and singing a little made-up song about it.

Unfortunately, I know exactly what that song and dance looks like because I’ve seen it at bath time.

I try to have mature conversations with him about appropriate behavior. Apparently, they didn’t take.

While I’m a huge proponent of adults making immature penis jokes, I do not want to sound like I’m not taking this seriously at school. I really, truly am.

1. He MUST follow rules. All of them. Even the stupid ones. Not playing with his penis in front of other children is NOT a stupid one.

2. While I’m not concerned about my beautiful, sweet, innocent son growing up to be a pervert or sexual deviant or some other horrible thing based on this incident, it’s not lost on me that Charles Manson, and Ted Bundy, and Jeffrey Dahmer all had moms and dads that probably didn’t want them growing up to be plagues on humanity also. So, I must be vigilant. I must be careful. I must use discernment. I must be wise. Some things are awesome. Some things are okay. Some things are horrible. Being a person who—uninvited—exposes their privates to others, is something I frown upon. (Understatement.)

One of my dearest friends assures me this won’t happen again. That this will be a good lesson for him. That it will sink in and correct the behavior.

I hope she’s right.

The Naked Trail Runner

When I was still a newspaper reporter, I became friends with another newspaper reporter.

She invited me out with one of her friends one night for drinks and hot wings.

We ate. We drank beer. We swapped stories.

This guy was great. Very nice. Very funny. Appreciated my brand of humor.

I liked him and was looking forward to being friends with him.

But then I heard a story.

There are many hiking and biking trails peppered throughout the area in which I live. A vast network of interconnected metro park and national park trails. I really like them.

One time, a young woman was running on one of the trails—maybe 10 minutes from my house.

And allegedly, the following happened:

She was running. Like a normal person. On a public trail. When all of the sudden, a tall redheaded guy came out from the woods totally naked and ran after her.

No attempted assault or anything. Just a random naked guy doing his best to expose his naked body to a random runner for as long as possible.

A police report was filed. One thing led to another, and the police ended up at my co-worker’s friend’s house. The guy I just met and totally liked.

He claims to have a good alibi. Computer login records and whatnot, proving it couldn’t have been him.

But a judge nonetheless found him guilty of this very crime. So, there was evidence.

Evidence that he took all of his clothes off and ran after a strange woman in a public place.

Dear God.

I try very hard to be understanding, forgiving, to give people the benefit of the doubt and not be judgy.

But in the end, I wasn’t going to pursue a friendship with a man found guilty of this behavior—even though I didn’t know for sure whether it really happened. I just couldn’t.

Exposing yourself to strangers is a very bad idea.

I don’t do it.

I don’t want my friends doing it.

And I’m going to require that my son not do it.

Just Keep It Put Away, Young Man. Honestly.

I’ll pick him up after work tomorrow.

That’s when we’ll have to have The Penis Talk.

Here are things you may do with your penis, son: Blah, blah, blah, blah.

And here are things you may NOT do with your penis: Blah, blah, showing it to people, blah.

Inevitably, the question will arise: Where, pray tell, did that little boy learn how to expose his penis to other people? Do you think his father taught him that?

Remember that old marijuana-smoking commercial? I learned it from watching you, dad!

Sweet Jesus.

My ex-wife. His school teacher. The day care lady.

They’re probably all sitting around thinking: Do you think he thinks it’s okay to play with his penis and make jokes about it because of his father?

Then, they will all sit there nodding. Nodding and judging.

And I’ll just shake my head.

Because I’ve been known to make a dick joke a time or two. But my son has never heard one. (This is true.)

Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure no evidence exists linking me to childish penis jokes at all. (This is not true.)

Yes. I'd been drinking.

Yes. I’d been drinking.

Lord, please make me a better father. Amen.

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