Thursday, September 24, 2015

Benjamin behaves

Warning: The incidents I'm about to describe might shock you.

I took all four kids to school this morning for grandfriends day. Our goal was to leave by 8:00 and we were in the van by 7:59. That's shocking already, right? It meant I was able to pull into my favourite parking spot ("This is a good spot, by the grass, Mom, because there's no cars by it!" Benjamin observed) and get to the classroom in time to set things up before everyone got there.

We made it through the breakfast, where I was engaged in conversation with a young man who desperately needed conversation. His first question was, "Whose grandparent are you?"

"I'm not a grandparent," I said. "I'm just a regular parent."

"I thought you might be," he said. "Because of the baby. And because you don't look that old yet. Can I ask you a question?"

"Sure," I said.

"Do you live in a tobacco-free environment?"

"I do," I said.

He sighed. "I wish I did!"

He didn't. I could smell tell. And there was no one there to take him to the book fair support him on grandfriends day. I didn't up and volunteer to do that like my friend Suzi, who took another little girl from her daughter's class to the book fair and let her pick out a book. But Suzi and her husband both have magical things called jobs, so that kind of generosity will come later, I'm sure. I also didn't want to even try to hit the book fair on double grandfriend day.

Word on the street is they managed to sell $4000 worth of merchandise in about an hour.

Yup. Glad I missed that craziness. But I'm also glad I got to talk a bit with that young man in Rachel's class, whose desk is a solitary island in the classroom. He's a bit of an acter-upper, I can tell. But sometimes I think those kids need a bit more attention, not seclusion.

Anyway, Benjamin kept wanting to go to Miriam's class but I told him we had to wait to clean up first so he walked up to a sweet grandma, grabbed her plate, and hustled to the trash can.

"There!" he said triumphantly. "Let's go!"

The lady was really sweet about having her plate stolen. She managed to barely grab her last bite off it as he walked away with it. There's only so much I can do to reign him in when I have Zoë strapped to me.

"That's not what I meant," I said. Those third-graders can clean up the plates just fine, but I needed to grab my serving bowls and help pack up leftovers. We did that and then went to Miriam's classroom to help out for a bit.

Benjamin loves the washroom in the classroom. He volunteers to go potty when we're at school—as long as he's allowed to use the little potty (the K/1 classes each have a classroom water closet equipped with a miniature toilet and sink). It gives me hope that someday he'll volunteer to go potty at home, too. I'm crossing my fingers but I'm not holding my breath.

He was so good the hour we were in Miriam's class. He put a little chair by her desk and she read to him while I went around and read with some children I knew needed some one-on-one help. Then, when the children were called to the carpet Benjamin went with them and sat down quietly and behaved himself with quiet aplomb.

They read a book (Mr. Small Finds a Job, maybe, by Roger Hargreaves) and when they got to a part where a character engages in conversation with a worm, Benjamin raised his hand and waited patiently for Mr. A. to call on him.

"Yes, Benjamin," said Mr. A.

"I uvs urms!" Benjamin said (translation: I love worms).

"Okay," Mr. A. nodded (clearly not understanding a word Benjamin said) and moved on with the story.

He sat through their mini lesson on sea stars/starfish, too, and then we headed to the media centre to volunteer as book fair helpers. My job was to help the children figure out if they had enough money to pay for the books they wanted. Zoë's job was to nap. Benjamin's job was the most complicated. His job was to stay on the couch and entertain himself.

We packed some felt toggle boards of dinosaurs/sea creatures and planes/trucks, a felt "Wheels on the Bus" game, a notebook and crayons, and a stack of stories he can read himself (Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed and things of that nature).

I was rather nervous about showing up to volunteer with two little ones in tow (surprise! (but an elementary school should be able to handle a surprise like that (see what I did there, Heidi? (hint: I closed all my brackets this time (I think))))), especially when one of those little ones was Benjamin.

We had the missionaries over for dinner and at the end of the meal, Elder Strong (whose name is quite fitting since he has to duck to get into our kitchen and has a girth to match his epic height) said, "How many kids do you have? One, two, three, four? That's all? It kind of feels like there's more of them; they never stop moving."

Benjamin could probably (ordinarily) pass for two or three children, easy. He's a little out of control. But not today! He was fabulous. He went through his little backpack and pulled out his activities and quietly entertained himself for the whole hour.

The librarian was like, "He's such a well-behaved little guy!"

And I was like, "Who are you? And what have you done with my son?!"

He didn't tear the cushions off the couch and jump around. He used an inside voice the whole time. He stayed where he was supposed to. He didn't draw on anything he wasn't supposed to (I don't think). He was so, so well behaved. For an entire hour.

SHOCKING!!! Right?

We gathered up our things and said goodbye to the girls (somehow they both managed to find us in the hall to say goodbye even though one was at lunch and the other in her classroom and we weren't headed either of those places at all) and headed outside.

"Mom?" Benjamin said.

"Yes, buddy."

"Is it okay to run and yell outside?"

"It is," I said.

"OKAAAAAAAAAAAAY!" he hollered, taking off down the sidewalk...and then tripping, like, five seconds into his sprint because, after all, he's still Benjamin.

But today I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. I saw hope. I saw that my little boy is capable of sitting still and raising his hand. I saw that he can follow directions, even when he's left on his own. I saw that he isn't going to be three forever (and thank goodness for that because—holy cow!—this child is intense!).

I'm glad he's three now, though, because he's cute and hilarious.

But also—holy cow! I'm so glad he won't be three forever.

I guess I'll just enjoy him as he is everyday because...what else is there to do?


  1. Replies
    1. Also. "Benjamin Behaves" makes for a lovely book title.

  2. Haha! Love it. And people tell me how well-behaved Beth is outside of home, when I'm not around, and I have a very similar reaction - whose child are you talking about, because it ain't mine! ;-)

  3. Every time someone tells me my kids are well behaved I have to give them a double take. But then it is all fair because every time people tell me I'm a great mom or super patient I'm like...what, do you even know me. E is now old enough that he will actually contradict that is great. Glad Benji had a great day. At least you volunteer....