We had about an hour before our appointment. Teasing our 7-year-old daughter, we asked her, “What kind of terrible things is your teacher going to tell us? Is she going to say how rotten you are? That you talk all the time and she has to make you sit in the hallway? That you get bad grades on all your papers?”
This is a fun game we play to draw her out.
Asking straight-on, “How are you doing in school?” is likely to score us an ambivalent “Good.” And that’s it — no details, end of conversation. Coming at her in this playful manner is always a treat because you just never know how she’ll respond — but it’s always more than a one-word-answer.
We might hear about what she made in art class,
or what game was played in gym, or who is this week’s “Queen Bee”, or what she is working on in her advanced reading group. She’s full of stories if broached correctly.
This time around she said, “No, I’m always good. I never get in trouble, you silly heads!” She really is a very good girl, so we beamed with pride, and nodded emphatically to show we understood. But then her finger went to her chin in that thinking pose she assumes when reflecting.
“Well, except for one time.”
We laughed a bit nervously, exchanged glances, and entered the next phase of talk with a bit of trepidation. “What one time? What happened? Did you get in trouble?”
She smiled excitedly and said,
“Yep! I got my frog hopped!”
She had never revealed her frog-hopping incident till now. To say we were shocked is a mild understatement. Getting your frog hopped is what happens when you are naughty. It means you talked in class when you weren’t supposed to, and got called out by the teacher.
Perpetrators must walk up to the black board where all the paper cut-out frogs reside, find the one bearing their name, and place it on the yellow, Velcro-riddled pond of warning. Do this, my fwend, and your frog has been hopped. It’s not a treat. It is punishment. Kind of like in the old days when the baddies had to wear a dunce cap.
No frog-hopping for us, thank you very much.
Our daughter had explained the frog-hopping process in detail, gossiping sadly that one poor girl had hopped her frog consistently every day since school started. A blabbermouth indeed! But our precious child? Never!
Seeing our twin looks of shock, she laughed further and added,
“I wanted to see what it was like to hop my frog, so I talked during quiet time.”
“Hold on,” I said.
“You got in trouble on purpose!?”
This tone indicated that we should have assumed she would never have misbehaved due to a rotten character. Because we should have known that she made her own choices and controlled her own destiny. Because we should never have doubted our little angel’s pristine behavior.
Our daughter got in trouble at school for the first time ever ON PURPOSE —
to see what it was like.
And then I thought about it. I, too, have a rebellious nature, but am generally a pretty decent, rule-abiding citizen. For the most part, I try to stay out of trouble… but I cannot deny testing the waters now and again. Yes, my fwends, I have walked on the grass. I have jay-walked (and received a $65 ticket in the process — no, for realz!). I have stabbed the perfect nipple-shaped butter in the bowl, marring its smooth texture into a mottled wreckage.
I have, essentially, hopped my frog many times over.
That daughter of ours is going to be handful if she is starting her rule-breaking test this early in life. What are the repercussions of such behavior? I know how I turned out, but is that necessarily a good thing? On the one hand, I have a very firm understanding of basic rules, even if I don’t always follow them. On the other hand, if a rule strikes me as arbitrivial or even harmful, I have zero problem breaking it, with zero remorse after doing so.
On the gamut of rule-following behavior, there are three basic characteristics:
1. Follow the rules blindly, even at the cost of harm to yourself or others.
Examples: Turning in run-away slaves (back when that was the thing to do). Or returning a child to an abusive home, which is what we currently do today. But that’s another rant for another day!
2. Follow the rules somewhat reluctantly, turning a blind eye to those breaking the rules for personal benefit; you’re not going to turn in the criminals, but nor are you going to help them out, either.
Not keeping slaves yourself, but not helping other slaves escape, either. Or letting an abused child stay at your house until the police force the child back into the abusive home, at which time you let her go, even though you know she’s going right back into the fire.
3. Follow only those rules which make sense, ignoring those which are harmful.
Examples: Hiding slaves in your home and helping them along the Underground Railroad. Or “kidnapping” an abused child and hiding her out till she turns eighteen so she is no longer victim to our broken system.
I think we all know to which team I belong, but I’ll spell it out just in case you’re daft:
I live in the third camp…
Wherein arbitrivial nonsense gets kicked to the curb or at the very least called out in obnoxious fashion. I’ve always prided myself on this strong characteristic, patting my own back for being the last truly decent person on the planet who would put justice above a red light. (Okay, and I also sneak popcorn into the theater, so my aims are admittedly not always altruistic.) I’ve always looked down on the weaklings residing in the other two camps, convinced they are what’s wrong with society, based on the maxim, “If you aren’t part of the solution, you’re part of the problem”. Now, however, I’m not so sure what to think. My arrogant stance has left little room for question until now.
Am I ready for my little girl to be a third-camp leader? And, oh hellz —
Is the world ready for another jay-walking boat-rocker?
What camp are you in?
Have you ever hopped your frog on purpose?
***DISCLAIMER: This post is “from the vault”. My Bloggy-Blog recently crashed. This was an item we were able to save thanks to the Black Box we recovered from the wreckage. There will be more items along this line as we salvage more survivors. ***