Tag Archives: preschool

Preschool Massage

massageThe good news is Will has quite a way with the ladies. The bad news is Will has quite a way with the ladies.

This double-edged sword has never been brandished more openly than earlier this week when I picked Will up from preschool on my day off. I walked into the room full of swirling preschoolers engaging in cyclonic activity expecting to see my son blurring by me engaged in some game, but I didn’t see him. I peeked left around the corner, but nothing. Curious, I tried the one secluded corner off to the right. That’s where I found him. Or, more accurately, I found THEM.

Will has a girlfriend. Actually he’s got several of them, but only one can be his “official” girlfriend at a time. Whichever one that happens to be is completely dependent on the day of the week. On Monday, it was “Jessica” (name changed), a very adorable little girl a few months older than Will. And apparently wiser.

When I saw them, Jessica was laying down on her stomach facing away from me. My son was partially draped across her so their bodies were making a “T.” And he had both of his hands firmly on her shoulders, contentedly rubbing away like a seasoned masseuse.

I just stood there for a second, neither one of them noticing me. Finally I cleared my throat and when Will saw me he looked remarkably like my dog after I catch her shitting on the carpet. I firmly said “time to go…NOW!” at which point we went and got his coat in the other room where MJ — who saw none of this — was standing. Once we were away from everyone, I started grilling him. The ensuing conversation was equal parts horrific and hysterical.

Me: “Will, what exactly were you doing to Jessica?”
Will: “I…I was giving her a massage,” he said with trepidation.
Me: “Wow. OK. Well first of all, how do you even know what a massage is??”
Will: “I didn’t. Jessica showed — I mean, told me.”
Me: “Which is it? Did she SHOW you or TELL you?”
Will: (sheepishly) “She showed me Dada.”
Me: “How did she show you? Did she touch you?”
Will: “Yes.”
Me: “Where did she touch you?”

Here’s the part where MJ and I swallowed our hearts.

Will: (getting flustered) “I get confused Dad. I think it’s hips. Or shoulders.”
Me: “What?? Point. Point to where she touched you!”
Will: “Shoulders! Shoulders!”
MJ: “And then what happened?”
Will: “I told her I didn’t want to be touched because it’s against the rules. But then I said OK.”
MJ: “If you didn’t want to be touched, then why did you let her touch you?”

Wait for it…

Will: “Because…because…she’s pretty!”
MJ: “So if a pretty girl tells you to do something then you just do it no questions asked?!”
Will: (crying) “YES!!”
Me: “To be fair, he sees me get steamrolled by a pretty girl every single day so we really can’t blame him.”
MJ: “My God. He’s like a pathetic little clone of you.”

We had a long talk with him about keeping hands to yourself and not touching people in school (or anywhere else for that matter). I know it’s a serious topic and he could get in trouble for it at school, but I have two counterarguments to that: 1) Teachers need to either pay more attention or change the name of the place to Happy Endings Preschool, and 2) it’s funny.

When I got Will alone I told him I was disappointed he broke the rules, but that it was a mistake and I understood what it’s like when a pretty girl is talking to you. Then I asked him if he liked it when she rubbed his shoulders. His answer?

“Well, it wasn’t what I expected. I wish she gives me a massage and I don’t have to give her one.”

Preaching to the choir son. Preaching to the choir.

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The Difference Between Moms & Dads

I’ve been married for six years now, which means I’m extraordinarily familiar with my wife’s vocal intonations. I can tell when she’s happy, sad, anxious, jealous, nervous, annoyed, and — most of all — pissed. So when the phone rang last week on my way home from work, it only took a few words to figure out she was FURIOUS!

“Your son got in trouble at preschool today,” she began (notice for some reason Will is always MY son when he’s in trouble). “You’re gonna be so angry when you hear this.”

“Oh boy,” I said as I imagined the worst. “How bad is it? What’d he do?”

“His teacher said he and his friends were playing superheroes and Transformers, and they were PLAY-FIGHTING!! They kept pretending to fight and hit each other right in the classroom!”

The silence that followed on my end of the conversation wasn’t meant for effect, I was simply waiting for MJ to finish the rest of the story. Because I assumed there would have to be more than that to warrant such contempt on her part.

“OK. Well, did he actually hit anyone?”

“No.”

“So he was playing superheroes with friends, no one hit anybody else, and he’s in trouble? Am I missing something?”

A “spirited” discussion took place from that point on, and the only thing that came out of it was the understanding that moms and dads view some things very, very differently. MJ was mad because she doesn’t want Will to fight, play fight, or mimic fighting in any way, shape or form. She just thinks it’s bad form and she plans on disciplining Will any time he engages in it. And to be fair, she’s not alone. I talked to several other parents and the moms largely agreed with her.

The dads on the other hand…

Sorry, but I don’t see anything wrong with what happened. Will clearly knows the difference between real and pretend. He knows full well that if he actually hits someone as a result of anything other than self-defense, it’s wrong and he’d be in some serious trouble. But he didn’t hit anyone. Simply put, I don’t think he did anything wrong.

I know it’s cliche, but boys will be boys. It’s too bad that’s become a bad thing over the years, but I still think it’s true. I let Will watch Spiderman, Batman, Superman and Transformers. Are there fights in them? Yup. Do I think that’s inappropriate for a 4-year-old? Not at all. Because I explain what’s appropriate and what isn’t, what’s real and what’s fake. And Will understands that. When he’s around his friends, they have sword fights and shoot Spiderman webs at each other. They aren’t malicious and they have good-natured fun.

But apparently that’s been deemed inherently evil by the powers that be. Because while boys are readily encouraged to play pretend in the kitchen and even put on dresses (which I’m also in favor of by the way), they’re not allowed anything that could even remotely resemble even the possible potential appearance of something so…violent. Oh the horror of pretend superhero play!!

Now he’s so upset from his teachers and MJ getting on him, he’s scared of playing superheroes at all. Worse than that, he rats out the perfectly normal boys who try to get him to play because he’s been told how bad it is. Basically they turned my son into a sissy narc, which is so sad to me. And completely unnecessary.

To be fair, when I got some more information from the school I found out Will ignored the teacher when she asked him to stop play fighting. And that is not acceptable. He knows he has to listen to adults and especially his teachers. And he was punished for that. But I couldn’t punish him for play fighting. Not a chance. He’s a normal kid and that’s normal kid behavior. It’s not destructive or malevolent, and it shouldn’t be a punishable offense.

I love moms and I love my wife. Everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion. But I truly believe in my heart she’s wrong, the teacher is wrong and the school is wrong. They’re little boys and this is how boys play. I’m not sure why it’s discouraged when, in fact, it should be celebrated.

So I told Will it’s OK to do with his friends outside of school, but when he’s in school it’s not allowed. Obviously his first question was “Why?”

I wish I knew kid. I wish I knew.

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We’ve Got a Biter

I don’t think I’ve ever been so angry at Will.

It started this week when he bit my father twice. Once it was hard enough to almost break skin. He was punished severely each time with a combination of time out, loss of his favorite toys and even a spanking when he copped an attitude after the fact and was seemingly unrepentant. It really took us by surprise because usually kids go through biting phases early in toddlerhood. But Will never did. And to bite my dad twice despite punishments had me miffed. But it turns out that was just the tip of the iceberg.

He bit another kid at preschool today.

The teacher told me what happened when I picked him up. They said he was playing with another boy and Will was pretending to be a dinosaur. Then he hauled off and bit another boy on the arm. Pretty much a carbon copy of what happened the times he bit my dad.

The rage that welled up inside me as Will’s teacher was telling me what happened was almost too much to contain. Seriously, I’m thankful there were plenty of people around because I would’ve given him the single biggest bare-assed spanking of all time. After all the talks we had about why biting is bad, how it hurts people, how mom and dad are disappointed whenever he does it. After all that, what does he do? He goes out and bites a kid.

Now before all the pseudo (and actual) child psychologists out there tell me he’s acting out because of all the big changes lately and blah blah blah, I get it. I understand big changes often bring about behavior that screams for attention. But he’s got our full attention. And the attention of my parents. This kid wants for nothing and yet he’s biting kids in class.

And since I’m being honest, it’s horribly demoralizing and humiliating to have the teacher tell you your kid is a biter. To have her point out older kids such as Will are usually well beyond that kind of thing, asking if everything is OK at home, etc. I wanted to hide under the nearest water table and never come out.

Seriously, I feel like I’m raising Hannibal Lecter. When I was helping him clean his room I kept worrying I’d find a human liver, fava beans and a nice bottle of chianti.

Not to mention we’re the new parents at the preschool and now we’re gonna be branded as the parents of the biter. I don’t care how thick you think your skin is, it’s really easy to crumble when it suddenly feels as though you’re the worst parents in the world when everyone finds out you’re raising a cannibal in training.

Ugh. We’re dealing with it as best we know how. I told him how disappointed I am in him. I asked him if he knows why biting is bad and he does, saying “Because it hurts people and that’s mean.” I’ve taken away his favorite toys and made it clear why he’s losing them and how good behavior can get them back. And even though I did get mad at him, I also told him I love him, we all make mistakes and that I know he’s a good boy. Other than that, I’m just not sure what else to do.

People always tell me to look for a silver lining. I guess if he ever becomes a professional soccer player whose plane crashes in the Andes, he’ll have no problem surviving. And, when he becomes an infamous serial killer in a couple of decades, perhaps I’ll stand to make a tidy profit when I sell the rights to his story.

Or this could mean he’s on the brink of becoming a famous sports broadcaster. Only time will tell.

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Kids & Irish Drinking Songs

Oh calm down, its empty.

Country music and Irish tunes.

When it comes to defining my musical tastes, that pretty much sums it up. I listen to one radio station, 98.1 FM out of Providence, that plays country music. I have one CD in my car, Great Big Sea, which is a Newfoundland Celtic band. And on the rare occasions I do break out my iPod, it’s full of both country and Irish. Needless to say Will is bombarded with my music and has taken to it like a duck to water.

But lately I’m not so sure that’s a good thing.

**********************************

Preschool: “Hi Mr. Gouveia, I was wondering if I could have a word with you about William.”

Me: “Of course. Is everything OK?”

Preschool: “Well, William’s been acting a little strange lately. Saying some very odd things. I don’t mean to pry, but is everything OK with your marriage?”

Me: “Excuse me? My marriage?? Why would you ask me that?”

Preschool: “William keeps saying something about a ‘scolding wife’ and saying ‘I swear to God I’ll hang myself if I get married again.’”

Me: “Oh, well that’s a simple misunderstanding. You see—”

Preschool: “And it seems to me either you or your wife has a drinking problem that is taking its toll on William.”

Me: “Neither one of us has a drinking problem. Why would you say that?”

Preschool: “When we ask him what he wants to drink during snack time, he either asks for ‘whiskey in a jar‘ or something called the ‘old black rum.’ I assume you know it’s highly unusual and inappropriate for a 3-year-old to mention such things.”

Me: “Yes but it’s not as bad as you think—”

Preschool: “Not as bad as we think? Mr. Gouveia, your son is talking about about a zombie named Tim Finnegan rising from the dead after mourners at his wake used his body to cool down their alcoholic beverages.”

Me: “It’s just a song called Tim Finnegan’s Wake, it’s really harmless.”

Preschool: “Harmless huh? Is it harmless that Will asked if one little girl was a mermaid, and then said he desired some ‘tail?’”

Me: “To be fair, that’s just kinda funny.”

Preschool: “No Mr. Gouveia it is not funny. Hearing a toddler talking about Drunken Sailors, pulling dead horses named Charlie out of ponds, the night Patty Murphy died and how he used to work in Chicago does not constitute good parenting.”

Me: “Hey, it’s better than rap.”

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Why Does My Son Have a Purse?

Marriage can be a battle. And sometimes you have to play dirty.

There is a song out there, written nearly 50 years ago, that drives MJ crazy. Actually, it drives every woman I’ve ever known crazy. My wife hates this song. Hates it! She’s not one to use that word unless it’s warranted, but in this case she doesn’t hesitate. She hates the song like Mel Gibson hates temple. It’s not so much on the level of Red Sox and Yankees fan hating each other, but more like Palestinians and Israelis. The mere mention—nevermind actual playing of said song—sends my wife into a murderous frenzy. And when this obscure melody was featured in a Family Guy episode, her anger grew.

See for yourself:

Needless to say, MJ’s visceral reaction caused by this song makes me sing it, hum it and play that video whenever I’m pissed off at her. This has resulted (multiple times) in her threatening my life, punching me, kicking me and chasing me around the house threatening to remove my very manhood.

But then, on Monday, I decided to up the stakes by teaching Will how to sing it.

I worked on it with him for awhile and even showed him the Family Guy video so we could practice it together. Then we carefully planned for MJ’s arrival, at which point I excitedly told MJ our son had learned something new and very cute at school. She grinned widely and asked what it was. That’s when I whispered “Just like we practiced” to my strapping young lad, and watched proudly as he stepped to the middle of the living room…

“Bird is word. Ba-Ba Bird is Word. Bird is word Mama. Don’t know about bird, everyone Bird is word. Bird is word! Bird is word! BIRD IS WORD!!”

In that moment, I can say with complete honesty my wife had no love for me. None. She wanted me dead and the daggers from her eyes looked capable of performing the task. But I didn’t care because my son and I love the song and he would not stop singing it. We belted out the strains of Surfin’ Bird all night long as MJ tried to ignore us by playing around on the computer—no doubt researching the going rate for mafia hit men these days.

I considered this the death blow and proclaimed it a total victory. And the best thing about it was she had no comeback. Game. Set. Match. Not only do I sing the song, but I taught it to Will. There was nothing else she could do that would irritate me as much as playing that song irritated her.

Or so I thought.

Still glowing from my victory, I went to pick Will up from preschool on Tuesday afternoon. I walked in as usual, grabbed his coat, picked up his Mickey Mouse backpack and signed him out. But just as we were ready to leave, his preschool teacher said the words that have haunted me ever since:

“Will, don’t forget your purse.”

I stopped dead in my tracks and looked at her with confusion. Then Will ran around to the other side of the room to collect something. And when he turned the corner, my heart sank into my feet and shame washed over me like the incoming tide.

A purse. A polka-dotted, black and white purse. He wore it proudly slung over his shoulder, just like…

And that’s when it hit me.

“Buddy, what is that you’ve got there and why on Earth are you carrying it around?”

“It’s my purse.”

“I see that. And where did you get that purse?”

“From Mama. It’s beautiful, right dad?”

The shock of it all had left me standing there, feeling like my feet were glued to the floor. I couldn’t move. Couldn’t think. All the while the flurry of parents picking up their kids was going on all around me, yet all I could look at was that goddamn purse.

The worst part was Will’s preschool teacher saw this all go down, and I knew I couldn’t overreact lest I be judged. So I had to put on a happy face and talk about how TOTALLY COOL it was for boys to have purses. Because I’m a progressive liberal who shouldn’t have a problem with strict gender stereotypes. Yup. No issues here. I’m so above all that nonsense.

It physically pained me.

As soon as I got him strapped into his carseat I called my wife, ready to accuse her of using our child as a weapon of mass destruction in our marital warfare. But she wouldn’t bite.

She said she would never sink so low as to involve our son in our spats. She told me he picked up the purse and liked it, so she let him bring it to school. Then she pointed out how hypocritical it would be of me to be upset about this, especially when I’m always preaching about equality and treating people fairly. She said a boy having a purse doesn’t make him gay, and even if Will was gay, so what?

And, of course, she’s absolutely right.

With one brilliant stroke, MJ dropped a nuclear bomb that destroyed me and left me defenseless. But even more impressive is the fact that she did so without ever appearing to fight in the first place. It will no doubt be preserved in memory and referred to as a tactical and strategic masterpiece of marital trench warfare.

The lesson, as always, is wives are not to be fucked with.

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