You know how your child gets in trouble at school and then you start freaking out that you’re raising The Worst Human Being? That your kid might be the next Stalin or Hitler or Pol Pot? That happened to me. Again.
Last Friday, Jack got put in time out because “he had his hands on other friends’ necks.” (I flinched at the word “friends,” as I do whenever someone uses it to address a group of people. My first thought is of Quakers, and my second thought is I hate you I hate you I hate you). Jack’s teacher clarified that he wants to “tussle” with them but he doesn’t have the necessary verbal skills to ask them how to play. Instantly, I felt judged. I could see her and the other teachers remarking about how Jack’s parents only know how to communicate by strangling. In my imagination, Jack became The Preschool Strangler, the youngest serial killer in history. I expected to arrive on Monday afternoon to find him casually playing Barrel of Monkeys on the alphabet rug as the corpses of his classmates lay about with snapped necks, like unfortunate pigeons.
This Friday when I arrived to pick him up, he was sitting in time out because “he shoved the dollhouse over onto some friends.” Seriously? Now he’s throwing houses on people? Once again feeling judged, I retreated into my imagination, where my son, a tiny Godzilla, was roaring and pushing over buildings onto screaming townsfolk. What about the dolls who may have been inside the dollhouse? I wondered. Were they now strewn about, fractured and concussed and traumatized?
On the way home, I tried to engage Jack in a meaningful conversation about what happened. Unfortunately, conversing with a two-year-old is like conversing with a schizophrenic.
Me: Jack, why did you push the dollhouse over on people?
Jack (sadly): No.
Me: It’s not a yes-or-no question. It’s a why question. I don’t want you to treat other people like that. I want you to be able to play with other kids.
Jack (still sadly): No.
Me: And you have to listen to Ms. Chrissy. You always have to listen to her and do whatever she tells you.
I sighed and retreated to my imagination once again. The bodies are stacked in hexagonal prisms and tattooed with rhombuses. Jack’s obsession with shapes has given him away.