Sh*t I Say: “Listen, Respect, and Do the Best You Can”
Today is the twelfth day of the April A to Z Challenge. During this month I will be writing blog posts every day (with breaks on Sundays) about the topic “Sh*t I Say” starting with each consecutive letter of the alphabet. This is one crazy project, y’all.
Listen, respect, and do the best you can.
When Kyle was in Kindergarten, he was already too smart for the level of academics that faced him there. Everyone knows a kid like that, right? He basically already knew how to read, and he was bored in class more often than not.
On the other hand, Kyle didn’t really know how to do school. Standing in line, waiting his turn, sitting still on his spot on the carpet. Taking responsibility for his lunch and other belongings. Homework. There was a bit of practice in that area during his one year of preschool, but the atmosphere when he was only 4 years old was very relaxed and nurturing, so these obedience tasks were really what he needed to learn and accept.
That was a dangerous mix: a precocious, fidgety 5-year-old, and a Kindergarten class that needed him to sit still and pay attention.
A few weeks in, it became apparent to the teacher and to me and Stewart that Kyle was Bored with a capital B. He would fidget, speak out of turn, climb under the table (?), poke other kids, let his attention wander, etc. I finally sat him down and explained to him that he had to learn to play the game.
What game? The school game.
You gotta play by their rules, man. You gotta do what they say, lay low, and don’t get in trouble. Don’t let other kids talk you into getting in trouble. You gotta do your work, enjoy the subjects that interest you, and tolerate the ones that don’t. That’s basically how I got through it. It worked okay for me.
We walked to school together every day. As we got closer to the entrance, I would slow down and say “What do you need to remember?”
At first, Kyle didn’t remember. So I would start and we would say it together.
“Listen, respect, and do the best you can.”
After a while he remembered the mantra, and eventually he would roll his little eyes at me and say it in a tired voice. ”Listen, respect, and do the best you can. Yeah, yeah, yeah,” and he would run off into class, forgetting me and the rules, excited to join his friends.
But I had gotten under his skin with my words. His attitude perked up overall. He learned the rules. He played the game.
Now that Kyle is in first grade, he has other things to learn. Remember to bring your jacket home or you don’t get to play video games. Write neatly so people can read your wonderful words. And as always, sit still.
I don’t often have to bring up the mantra anymore, but sometimes I throw it in for good measure. However, Brady starts Kindergarten this August. That kid dances to the beat of his own bizarre drum. If anyone’s gonna need a mantra, it’s him.