Last week, my 5-year-old son told me in a very pleasant, matter-of-fact voice he wished he were dead.
“Why would you say such a horrible thing?” I replied, wondering where this was coming from. “You know Mommy and Daddy would be so, so sad if anything ever happened to you.”
“No, no, Mommy. I want to be dead so I can be a ghost. So I can fly around and be invisible and play tricks on people. It would be so funny,” he giggled.
Relieved at the innocence behind said “death wish,” I said, “It would be funny to be able to do that, but, sweetie, you still never say you want to be dead.”
Still confused as to why I wasn’t really on board with his hilarious plan, he continued to plead his case.
“No, Mommy, I would be a good ghost. Not a bad ghost. It’s OK.” (The way he said it was sort of in that “Geez, Mom, why don’t you get this?” tone. I thought I had like eight more years before that kicked in!)
Realizing he had no idea of the gravity of what he was saying, I moved away from the subject a bit. “Well maybe you could be a ghost for Halloween,” I said, thinking cheap — easy-Halloween-costume-requiring-no-trips-to-store-to-get-overpriced-attire-that-will-be-worn-for-one-evening, here we come!
“No, I want to be a werewolf … or a a skeleton guy … or a Ninja Turtle…”
“Which Ninja Turtle?” I asked deflated, as I pictured myself standing in a long line at Party City.
“Michelangelo,” he said. “Or maybe just a plain Ninja. Or maybe just a spaghetti head man,” he said, laughing. Because spaghetti head men are pretty freaking hysterical.
Five year olds say and do some really silly things.
So last week parents of all little people averaging around 41 inches tall collectively rolled their eyes when news broke that a 5-year-old child at E.R. Dickson Elementary School was forced to sign a “safety contract” after drawing something that “resembled” a gun and then “pointing” a crayon at someone while saying “pew pew.” This “contract” she signed without the consent of her parents promised she would not hurt herself or others. (I have to know. Did she sign it with her AKrayola-47?)
She was sent home after the incident and her mother was given a questionnaire to evaluate her for “suicidal thoughts.” The mother said her child later asked her, “What’s suicide, Mommy?”
People who I assume are around 5 year olds all the time did this to a FIVE-year-old! What in name of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves were they thinking? Could you imagine just how livid you would be if you were this child’s parents?
“Well, sweetheart, suicide is … Now go watch ‘Frozen.’”
They are kids. Their imaginations are supposed to be in hyper-drive. In fact, nothing pleases me more than watching my kids pretend.
If these same administrators witnessed the epic battles that occur between Iron Man and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at my house, they would probably have my child arrested.
Maybe there is more to the story than there is being reported, but if not, this is just about one of the most absurd things I have ever heard. No wonder it didn’t just make national media, but garnered headlines around the globe, making us look as my good pal Michelangelo would say, “turtally awesome” once again!
Since the incident, MCPSS said they have evaluated the situation and the counselor interacted in a “caring” and “age-appropriate” manner with the child and the E. R. Dickson staff members were simply following a system-wide safety protocol. And to their credit, MCPSS acted very quickly and released a statement saying the use of the “safety form” has been discontinued.
But why was there ever a “system wide safety protocol” in the first place? It doesn’t take a Ph.D in education or child psychology to know you deal with a kindergartener in an entirely different manner than you do a high school senior, especially about “safety.”
I understand some of this is our own fault as a society. In the aftermath of tragedies like Columbine and Newtown, we want answers and assurances our children will be safe, so across-the-board, zero tolerance measures like this are put into the place. But unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Policies formulated out of good intentions turn into the absurd.
Right up there with ABCs and 1, 2, 3s, I want my kids learning how to exercise good judgment. But if the people who we entrust them to can’t or aren’t allowed to do that themselves, maybe there is a systemic problem of another kind.