This morning at work was fine. Friday. Couldn’t wait to leave, of course, but not for any particular reason other than because YAY, IT’S FRIDAY.
After lunch, the day took a nosedive. I don’t talk about work much here – hardly ever – and I won’t really go into anything now – but we’ve all had really infuriating, frustrating, horrible days at work, right? Today was a day when I kind of wanted to just hang up the phone (on the person who was on the other end) and walk out of the building. Permanently.
But I have my half of the kids/mortgage/car/food/utilities/everything else to support, so I didn’t do that. I just did what we all do most of the time. I waited it out. And left on time. Still seething inside a little. Calm, but seething.
Drove down the road to daycare, went into the building and there, sitting on the piano bench playing the high notes was my little baby girl – sitting with a boy around her age who was playing the low notes. Julia couldn’t decide if she wanted to continue playing her duet or have me pick her up, so she kind of went back and forth. I let her play a bit longer (the classroom teacher was hanging out with them) and I went down the hall to get Alex.
He was sitting at the table with his best friend and another girl who has been there probably since all three were in the infant room. Gathered Alex’s things together, and re-tied his sneakers, and told him to say bye bye to his friends.
His best friend, C, said to Alex: "bye, monkey butt butt."
And at the door, Alex called back "bye poopy!"
Now, we had a little conversation this morning about how we DON’T call other people "poopy." He had been calling the morning teacher in Julia’s room "Poopy" even though she had been kind enough to climb up on a chair and get big scary Barney down from his perch on top of the cabinets. I told him to cut it out, and he kind of scampered out of range and did it again. I told him not to call anyone poopy, and if he did it again, I would take Barney away. The teacher looked sternly at Alex (which isn’t always easy) and agreed with me. Alex pushed the envelope. "Hey poopy" he smirked. I marched across the room and he retreated but there was, of course, no escape from Etiquette Mommy. I got him, the teacher took Barney, and I told Alex (as he paused for breath in between his protests and wails) – calmly – that he and I were going to have a little chat. I lugged him down the hall – not an easy thing to do. He weighs 34 pounds and is 39 inches tall and very energetic when he doesn’t want to have a little chat with mommy.
We marched to the other end of the hall to his classroom which was empty – EXCEPT for his beloved "Miss Teffy" who was setting up the tables and chairs. She looked up with a smile for Alex and saw his red and teary face and looked at me and I smiled grimly and said "Alex and I need to have a talk." I tried to have him sit in a chair over in the corner, but of course that didn’t happen – he kept hurling himself off it, sobbing "I don’t WANT to sit in a chair!" So I picked him up and spoke very firmly but very quietly in his ear. I told him we don’t call people "poopy" because it’s not nice, and if he keeps calling people "poopy" I will have to take things away from him.
I don’t remember what else I said because frankly, every time I said "poopy" in a serious voice I wanted to laugh. It is so HARD to be firm and serious about the word "poopy." You try it! See how many times you can use it in a paragraph – sternly – without starting to giggle and snicker. Motherhood isn’t for the weak-willed, you know.
Fortunately for me, Alex calmed down and saw the error of his ways, and we went back to Julia’s room where he agreed not to call anyone "poopy."
Until, of course, the end of the day when we were leaving the room. I had nothing to take from him, and after the day I’d had, pretty much everything was taken out of me, so I just said "Alex" in my clenched-jaw warning voice and he raced ahead of me out the door and down the hall. We got Julia’s stuff and as we were leaving I saw Alex’s best friend’s mother, L, who works there. She and I had a long talk the other day about our sons using the word "poopy" and our various strategies for making them stop.
While Alex tried to push the door open, I went over to her and said – I admit it, gleefully – "I’m ratting out your son." Her eyes got wide and I know she was mentally unwrapping a bar of soap for her little boy’s dinner, and she said "Did he say – ?" and I shook my head. "No," I told her. "He said ‘bye monkey butt butt’." And her jaw dropped and she rolled her eyes and shook her head (typical I-am-a-mother-of-a-three-year-old-and-I-am-losing-my-mind behavior) and said "What is it now with the ‘butt butt’?" (Who would ever imagine herself asking that particular question? I’m sure she never did.) and I laughed and she did too and she said "Yeah, you laugh, Alex isn’t saying that" and I said "Yet."
She held the door open and waved at Alex as we went out of the building and then she called "Bye, Alex" and he turned around and called to her "Bye bye poopy!"
We both reprimanded Alex at the same time and then looked at each other, trying not to laugh. She just pointed at me and I said "I know. I had that coming to me."
And as we went to the car I mumbled (because he doesn’t listen anyway) not to call people "poopy." He got in the car, I put Julia in her car seat and as I was going back around to Alex’s side of the car to buckle him in I heard someone call "Hey Poopy!"
It was another friend of mine, J, whose son is a year younger than Alex and her daughter is a month older than Julia. I’d told her before about Alex’s expanding vocabulary. I told her what had just happened and she laughed very loudly (I’ve told her she’s next) and waved to Alex as she went past my car.
"Hi Alex" she called.
"Hi poop-" he started to say. And then – amazingly – stopped.
J immediately turned her back to the car so she could guffaw in private. I hid behind the car and tried working up a glare to stop myself from cracking. J ran into the building and didn’t look back. I buckled Alex into his car seat and told him, just once more, just because I like to beat my head against a brick wall repeatedly, not to call people "poopy."
Then I walked around to the other side of the car, got in, fastened my seat belt (in case anyone was wondering) and started the car. And tried not to laugh too soon after the "poopy" conversation. We pulled out of the parking lot and began the drive home.
And I realized then that sometimes nothing works better for getting rid of the aftertaste of a bad day than a little boy exercising his constitutional right to freedom of speech.