Sunday, October 28, 2012

What Not to Teach Your Kids

You’d think I woulda learned after the Pig-Latin debacle, but no. The other day, when Reed and I said something simultaneously, I jinxed him. He didn’t have a clue what I meant. Coulda left it at that. Instead, I explained that he couldn’t talk until someone said his name. It was a short explanation, but one I will regret much longer. Of course Reed shared his newfound wisdom with Calvin and of course they have used it to the max every day. Here are the fun results of my stupid lesson:

-          Reed sounding out words and Calvin filling in obvious sentences to execute bedtime story jinxes on Mom. Then, immediately saying my name so they can keep listening to the story. And jinx me again on the next page
-          Calvin mumbling along while I’m talking, then quickly echoing key words from my conversation and shouting “JINX! MOMMY!”
-          The boys shouting concurrently, “JINX! DOUBLE JINX! TRIPLE JINX! FOURPLET JINX!”
-          Me saying Reed’s name fourteen times, thinking he had just been fifteenplet jinxed by Calvin, only to realize that it was, in fact, a fourteenplet jinx. Darn!
-          Countless times of the boys chasing me around the house wide-eyed, pointing to themselves and mouthing their name while I play dumb
-          Countless times of me deciding that the motioning is more annoying than incessant talking and saying their name to free them of their curse
-          Me desperately chasing Max around the house and picking on him to try to get him to say, “No, Mommy!” so I could talk again
-          A ban on all singing and “amen” jinxes, issued by Mom
-          Max shouting, “JEE!” and “DOUBLE JEE!” at random times
-          The boys getting mad at Max for not following the rules when jinxed himself

I'm thinking of making up a new rule: If you invoke the jinx rule more than ten times in a day, Mom can declare a semi-permanent jinx - no talking until you turn 18. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Frightening Family Fun

The other night, Ryan and I pretended to be strangers, offered the kids candy, then abducted them. They screamed bloody murder and kicked the crap out of us. Another family fun night at the Layton house.

This game (which has become a highly-requested favorite) came on the heels of our decision to let Reed play on the playground with his other teacher’s kid friends after school. Unsupervised. Our school is out in the boonies (in a “town” with a population of 93) and the playground is fenced on three sides. My classroom window overlooks it. And two of the teacher’s kids are 10-year-olds who I have in class this year and totally trust. But still.

We had said no earlier in the year. I was actually leaning toward yes, but Ryan didn’t feel comfortable with it. Then Friday, Reed was talking with the other kids in a supervised area and they all decided to go to the playground. He came up the stairs to my classroom in tears. I guess the puppy dog face did me in. That night I talked it over with Daddy, and we relented. Then we gave a list of safety and behavior rules. We even practiced what to do if the other kids started saying bad words. Or being a bully. Or vandalizing. I probably gave him more ideas for mischief than any of them would ever come up with. Then we talked about what to do if a stranger came to the playground. This is what started the aforementioned game.

I gotta say, woe to the person who tries to kidnap one of my kids. First of all, they’re pretty stinkin’ fast! And “candy,” “lost puppy,” and “Hey, little boy” might as well be a starting gun, so you better come up with a new way to entice them close if you don’t want to chase them down. And if you do get ahold of them, look out, Buddy! They kick indiscriminately – and hard! You might be ok with Max. He’ll run toward you giggling (but you better be able to back up a candy claim) and willingly let you ‘nap him. But even he will break your eardrum and give you a few hard smacks. The hardest part of this training was teaching the non-kidnapped child to resist the urge to defend their brother and instead run for help. They are very confident in their ability to “beat up” the bad guy. Reed cited his fights with Daddy as evidence, “But Daddy is strong and we can beat him up!”

The game led to a conversation about why people kidnap kids. I vaguely explained possible reasons, which led to a vocabulary lesson on ransom. When I said, “If you don’t give me $7 million, your kid is gonna get it!” Reed was very concerned, “But you don’t have $7 million!” “Well, then…” I struggled, trying to come up with some kind of reassuring answer. Calvin cut in with, “Then we’ll have a problem.” I guess they’ll have to kick their way outta that predicament…

It’s sad that we have to worry about our kids playing on a playground and teach them how to get out of unthinkable situations, but we’re praying it’s worth it to raise independent, healthy boys who can kick the snot outta bad guys!