Kindergarten teachers should be made aware of the power that they wield. To the ever diligent parent, if Kindergarten goes off well, then the next 12 years of their child’s education will be a breeze. On the flip side, if you are already struggling in Kindergarten, there’s a good chance that the next 12 years will be ones best forgotten and many nightly prayers will include a line to “please just let little Jimmy graduate and find a good wife”.
The dreaded frownie face reared its ugly head in the Allen house at the end of Matt’s first week of Kindergarten. We waited anxiously in the pickup line with all the other parents ready to have our child back after the first full week of school. When it was almost our turn, one of the teachers placed Matt on a big red circle where we were supposed to pull up to pick him up. He stood there holding a brightly colored piece of paper in his hand kicking at an imaginary clump of dirt in the circle. I knew immediately, something was up. Matt got in the car and showed me his paper. There it was, this ugly little frownie face hastily drawn on the brightly colored paper next to the words “Talks excessively in Class”. Yikes.
We talked to Matt about not talking so much in class. We discussed the fact that talking while the teacher was talking was being disrespectful. He said he didn’t mean to be disrespectful but he had important things he needed to tell his friends. Desperate for a solution, Dave and I tried the reward system. For every week that Matt came home without a frownie face the entire family would go directly to Dairy Queen for an ice cream. Treats in the Allen house were few and far between and because of the Allen children’s propensity to be lactose intolerant, ice cream treats were almost non-existent. This ploy worked for a brief time. It was even resurrected briefly when the girls figured out that Ice Cream Friday coincided with no frownie faces on Matt’s paper. But alas, parental disappointment, tantalizing treats and begging from your sisters were no match for Matt’s unique version of “Chatty Kathy Syndrome”.
So, week after week found the Allen family all loaded in the car on Friday afternoon. The car would be filled with anxiety because everyone knew that Ice Cream Friday depended on whether Matt would be standing on his red dot kicking the ground while the ugly red frownie face made its appearance on the brightly colored piece of paper flapping in his hand.