Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Mysterious IT

I am always amazed at how some people just have it and others don't.

Like popularity.  I have one son with that mysterious something that makes everyone like him and want to be around him.  "A cool dude in a family of nerds," say his sisters.

And that's all I'll say about him, except that he just has IT. The Cool It.

Then, some people have the Respect It.

Sometimes on Wednesday mornings I volunteer at school and help with the first and second graders.  Now and then I'm left with the little first grade boys while the second graders are having their math class.

These boys are unusually active, I think, even for boys.  And they do not listen to me.

It is odd.  I put on my best brisk, all-business, no-nonsense Mom voice and try to talk like I fully expect them to do what I say.

It doesn't work.

A few weeks ago I was doing math flash cards with the first graders.  They bounced around and acted crazy.  One of them acted like he was strumming a guitar and singing the answers in a country-song twang.  I managed to stop him when he sang about his woman leaving him.

I commanded.  I took fuzzies out of their jars.  I demonstrated how they should behave.  Nothing worked for long.

At the supper table I talked about this.  I said, "Maybe they aren't capable of holding still.  You know how boys mature more slowly. Maybe they just can't."

Paul said, "I don't know why you have so much trouble with those first graders.  They're perfectly fine for me when I teach their math class."

Which brings us to my point: Paul by his very breathing commands respect from children.  Now, granted, there is a lot of foolishness that goes on because he is oblivious and/or deaf, but if he tells a bunch of kids to stand in a line and do flash cards, they do.

And nobody wants to get sent to his office.  Definitely not.

The family agreed: Mom is not Dad.

Jenny said, "Dad is just more . . . scary."

I said, "So, how can I be more scary?"

Jenny said, "You don't want to be scary."

I said, "Yes, I do.  At least a little bit."

We agreed: if you don't have IT, you can't just decide to change this.

Paul said I can lay out the Mr. Smucker card next time if I need to.

Ok.  I would.

Last Wednesday I once again was supervising little first graders.  I said, "Remember last time you guys were pretty wild?  Well, I talked to Mr. Smucker, and he said, 'Send them to me if they don't listen."

The boys said, "Oh.  No.  We don't do that here.  Miss Stephanie doesn't send us to Mr. Smucker."

I said, "Mr. Smucker said I should if I need to."

They shook their heads.  I obviously didn't understand.  "We don't get sent to Mr. Smucker.  Huh-uh."

I said, "We'll see."

They were supposed to be taking tests which requires silence. All of a sudden two of them, across the room from each other, started arguing.  Loudly.  I reminded them they are supposed to finish their tests without talking.

One immediately was quiet.

The other, who must have some latent Smucker genes, just HAD to fire back one more shot.  I again reminded him to be quiet.

He snapped, "HE started it!"

Ooooohhh, the time had come.

I wrote a note and sent him to Mr. Smucker.

Mr. Smucker spoke to him kindly but got him to admit why he got in trouble.  I don't think he enjoyed this.

I have a feeling the first graders will take me more seriously next time, not because I am any more scary or respectable, but because I will keep my word of sending them to the big guy that they all view with awe and a touch of fear.

Now the fact is that there are plenty of times, at home, that I am the strict disciplinarian and Paul is the big softie that thinks the child needs a lot more talking to and chances before the consequences start.

It has driven me crazy at times.

So why why why do children click their heels and salute when he walks by?  And they ignore me.

I don't have IT, that's for sure.

Quote of the Day:
"Hey...would you mind bringing my brown fuzzy boots that shlompf shlompf? They should be in my closet. Thanks!"
--Amy, whom I can't wait to see this weekend at Justin & Esta's wedding, in an email today.


  1. I think I've gotten old enough that I don't mind if I don't have IT. My best friend and I theorize that popularity has a scent and some people are born with it and the rest of us aren't and we can't duplicate that scent. It must be funny to have one guy with IT in the family!

  2. Yeah, so I'm a Mom of 4 small ones, and don't have the "Respect" IT like I should. How did you raise 7 kids?!
    How should I?!
    I feel like I'm either over-the-top strict/mean, or let them get away with too much.

  3. Is "shlomp shlomp" Pennsylvania Dutch?

  4. Margo--yes, it is funny, and fascinating.
    Anonymous 1--Oh dear, you're asking me how to raise children??? Well. If you don't have the Respect IT you have to pick your battles carefully and be prepared to win. Not that it's all about fighting, but if you say, "You need to go to bed," or "I will not hear whining," then you have to follow through. Pick the most important issues and let the rest go, for now. Sleep and food solve a lot of problems for little kids. Hang in there.
    Anonymous 2--No it's not technically Pa. Dutch but has Dutch phonics and is a good description of the sound those boots make.

  5. Oh I like your description of IT. I've encountered another IT and been very puzzled by IT. I call it Presence and these people have undue influence over others in their presence just by being there and saying the "words" I've been known to counter this influence, not always with the best results!!

    Mary Horst

  6. Mary--I know some of those people too. And unfortunately they can put me under their spell. Aarrgghh!

  7. I gave in and bought schlomp, schlomp boots for my daughter Beats me how she runs at recess, but I'm not there to watch so it doesn't bug me.

  8. Here's your answer plain and simple in this thick cardboard book for kids, Five Little Ducks, that I simply could not resist buying last week.

    Page 1: Five little ducks went out one day, over the hill and far away. Mother Duck called, "Quack,quack,quack,quack."
    But only four little ducks came back.

    Page 2: Four little ducks went out one day, over the hill and far away. Mother Duck called, "Quack, quack, quack, quack."
    But only three little ducks came back.

    Page 3: Three little ducks went out one day, over the hill and far away. Mother Duck called, "Quack, quack, quack, quack."
    But only two little ducks came back.

    Page 4: Two little ducks went out one day, over the hill and far away. Mother Duck called, "Quack, quack, quack, quack."

    Page 5: One little duck went out one day over the hill and far away. Mother duck called, "Quack, quack, quack, quack.:
    But none of the five ducks came back.

    Page 6: Father Duck went out one day, over the hill and far away. Father Duck called, "Quack, quack, quack, quack."
    And all five of the little ducks came back.

    Louise agrees that there is more authority in a man's voice. We need you on the scene, men!

  9. Sorry for missing a line on Page 4, but I'm sure you can fill it in!