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Mr. Sly

Behavior is a funny thing. I want Simon to be obedient and well behaved in class, so I was happy to learn that all last year he never once required a time-out or even a stern talking to. He was a good boy, and his teachers liked him. On the other hand, I don’t want him to be a lemming, either, as I’m not too sure how well kids in general and boys in particular do socially when they are too good. Which is to say, I think you can be too good for your own good.

Thus, I smiled when Diana told me last week that the boys—Simon, Baron, Braylon, and Aciek—got in trouble for throwing rocks at each other and at the fence on the playground. Throwing rocks sounds like a fine activity for four-year-old boys. I understand that the teachers can’t let them do it on the playground, but I was happy to hear that rock throwing took place.

Better still, today I was pleased to witness first-hand Simon not only being disobedient, but also sneaky about it. Summer camp days start with free play in the school auditorium. This is a biggish space with a smallish number of kids in it. The normal routine is that the big girls play house or do arts, the little kids take things from each other and cry (I’m sure they do other stuff, too, but I mostly see toddler grabbing drama), and the big boys run and chase each other. The problem is that running is not allowed.

And I guess I can kind of see why. It would be easy for a kid to fall, trip, or even trample an Itsy Bitsie. Except… no, in my heart of hearts I think it’s a stupid, unrealistic rule. How can you put a group of boys in a big room for “free play” and not expect them to run? Doesn’t that amount to entrapment? The auditorium begs to be run in; running will be had in that room.

So this morning, when I dropped Simon off I witnessed the usual tableaux. Ms. Inessa and Ms. Lana were taking care of distraught toddlers; the other teachers were talking to each other about schedules and logistics; Greta and Ruby were playing dress-up/make-believe games; and Simon, Baron, Aciek, and Lily began their chasing game. At which point in time Ms. Andi, the camp director, turned around and barked:

“Simon and Baron! What have I told you about running? No running!”

It was reasonable enough. Except for the part where I think the rule is unenforceable and silly in the first place.* What came next made my whole morning. Simon and Baron froze in their tracks. Aciek and Lily scampered off elsewhere. Then, just when Ms. Andi turned her back to talk to Ms. Melinda, Baron took off in a sprint. Simon, who is by nature more obedient than Baron, flitted like a dancer across the room, pausing at intervals to look over his shoulder and check that the teachers still had their backs to him.

So he was willing to disobey, but not so excited about being caught. This was probably one of those teachable moments when I should have intervened and reinforced the teachers’ rules. Instead, I flashed him a sly smile to match his  own and left the room. I didn’t linger long enough to find out if he was caught breaking the rules, but I sure hope not.

*For the record, I have not shared this opinion with Simon. I think the rule is silly, but I’m not going to undermine his teachers’ authority about it. I’ll save that bit of bad behavior for a time when the stakes are higher.

One Response to “Mr. Sly”

  1. Amanda says:

    Good for Simon! Dumb rule.

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