Thursday, November 27, 2014

CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL: Can parents contain kids, the live-in snoops?

By AMY NEWMARK, Chicken Soup for the Soul | 6/27/2014

Have you ever thought about how living with a small child is like living with a recording device that’s always on? If you haven’t, you might not want to. It’s a discomforting idea, as Mimi Greenwood Knight learned when her live-in recorder, 5-year-old Jonah, went off to kindergarten. She wrote about the terror this inspired in “Kindergarten Expose,” a story published in our book about parenthood.

Jonah was the kind of “never-met-a-stranger” kid who “would talk to a post,” as Mimi put it. So, as Jonah’s first day of kindergarten approached, Mimi imagined a horrible scene: Jonah’s teacher leading him into the teacher’s lounge and telling him: “Go ahead. Tell the others what you were just telling me about your mommy.” In this nightmare, there was no shortage of gossip Jonah could dish.

Have you ever thought about how living with a small child is like living with a recording device that’s always on? If you haven’t, you might not want to. It’s a discomforting idea, as Mimi Greenwood Knight learned when her live-in recorder, 5-year-old Jonah, went off to kindergarten. She wrote about the terror this inspired in “Kindergarten Expose,” a story published in our book about parenthood.

Jonah was the kind of “never-met-a-stranger” kid who “would talk to a post,” as Mimi put it. So, as Jonah’s first day of kindergarten approached, Mimi imagined a horrible scene: Jonah’s teacher leading him into the teacher’s lounge and telling him: “Go ahead. Tell the others what you were just telling me about your mommy.” In this nightmare, there was no shortage of gossip Jonah could dish.

For example, he might exclaim: “Guess what! We got to have cupcakes for breakfast because Mom’s on deadline.” Or, “Mom said she’d kill the next person who left dirty dishes in her office.” (“It’s a figure of speech,” Mimi imagined herself explaining to the teacher.)

Perhaps Jonah would explain: “I don’t have to go to the bathroom. When we were stuck in a traffic jam, I just used a coffee cup.” (“Once! I let him do that once!”)

The list went on:

“Here. This is for you. Aunt Gail gave it to Mommy, but she didn’t like it.”

“Mom said it was OK to eat my hotdog after we cut off the part the cat licked.”

“If you open the bathroom door in a restaurant when my mom’s on the toilet, she’ll slam it on your arm.”

“My mom says you’re ‘no spring chicken.’ What does that mean?”

Mimi was sure these tidbits and others were coming out. It was just a matter of how to deal with them. Mimi decided the best strategy was a pre-emptive one. She would “ply [the teacher] with baked goods and flowers from the yard, pamper her at Christmas and Teacher Appreciation time, extol her virtues to the principal, and” — most importantly — “hope beyond hope she has her own little blabbermouth at home and understands.”

•••

When Carol Gibson’s teacher told her she wasn’t smart enough for Latin, it changed the course of her life. Carol had dreamed of being a nurse since childhood, and learning Latin was a prerequisite — this was many decades ago. So, as soon as she entered junior high, she enrolled in Latin class, as she wrote in her story “Too Dumb to Be a Nurse,” published in our book about finding happiness.

Carol had no trouble learning Latin words, but she struggled to construct sentences. After several weeks, her teacher told her flatly: “I think you should withdraw from this course. You are slowing the rest of the class down.”

Carol was devastated. As a young girl without confidence in her abilities, those words were enough to derail her. Throughout the rest of her education, she only took the classes required to graduate, not those she would have needed to enter a nursing program. Then she married and had children and rarely thought of nursing again.

Years later, several events coincided that changed her life. Over several months, a sentence from the book of James came to her several times a day: “Is any among you sick?” One evening while she was reading and daydreaming, she suddenly had a vision of herself as a nurse treating a patient. Then tragedy struck. Carol’s husband’s best friend was killed in a car accident and his widow, who had never worked, had to scramble to care for her children. It made Carol’s husband think that his wife should be able to support herself, just in case. When he mentioned this, Carol took it as a sign. She felt God was calling on her to realize her dream and finally become a nurse.

She still didn’t think she was smart enough, but now she felt she had to try anyway. So, she took an entrance exam and, to her surprise, earned a seat in a nursing program. Three years later, she graduated fifth in her class and has worked as a nurse ever since. She wrote in her story: “I’ve never been more certain that this is what I was meant to be.”

Syndicated by Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, online at www.chickensoup.com

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