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I’m happy to be a toilet head

Submitted by on Sunday, 15 June 2008 No Comment

Originally published Feb. 12, 2008, thehive.modbee.com.

I’d barely finished my first cup of coffee when the insult rang out this morning. “Hey, toilet head!” Note to self: Switch to another shampoo.

It was from Big Guy’s Best Friend, and I was thrilled to hear it.

Best Friend, you see, is a sweet little towhead, with good parents. For a year and a half now, our two families have arrived at day care at about the same time. Somewhere along the line – no one can quite remember how it started – Best Friend and I developed an odd morning ritual.

“Hey, French fry!” he’ll call out.

“Good morning, spaghetti!” I’ll reply. We’ll go on for a couple of minutes, trading food names and giving their teacher the munchies. I was particularly impressed the day he called me “sushi.” Sushi? If he eats that, his parents are my heroes.

So today’s “toilet head” shocked me – I’m pretty sure his folks aren’t serving dinner in that type of porcelain. I also felt guilty about our morning ritual – was it my fault Best Friend had crossed the line into not-nice names?

But then I rejoiced in realizing that sweet, kind normal kids sometimes do not-nice things. Kind of like the guys do frequently. Hey, maybe they’re all right after all.

I was distraught when I arrived to pick them up one day last spring and I got The Look from Big Guy’s teacher. Most working parents know The Look – it’s when the one you get as the teacher strides determinedly toward you, and you know she’s not coming to congratulate your kid for learning to color in the lines.

Seems Big Guy and two other kids – not Best Friend, who was off that day – had spent the afternoon harassing the life out of a little girl. One boy started calling her “cry baby,” which, of course, made her mad. Which, of course, encouraged all three boys to keep it up until the girl did, indeed, start crying.

I never have figured out what got into Big Guy that day, because he’s always adored the girl he was so hell-bent on torturing. I was sure at the time that he was the world’s youngest victim of pack mentality. I could see gangs and juvey hall in his future and vowed to quit wearing my Cincinnati Reds gear.

It also was his first bout of name-calling. Fairly benign episodes have followed – the worst he’s been able to work up so far is “doody head.” Most of the time, he does it in gibberish – “you bucka lucka” – so heaven knows what he’s really saying.

The tables turned on him this evening, though, when another boy hit him with a stream of gibberish names as we headed toward the car. The boy was smiling, but Big Guy didn’t see the humor. “Stop calling me that right now!”

He recovered sufficiently by the time his seat belt was fastened, however, to call me the same name that had had him near tears just minutes earlier.

“Hey, wasn’t that what A was calling you?” I asked.

You could see the light bulb go off. “Um, yeah.”

“And you didn’t like it, right?”

“Uh, no.”

“So maybe I don’t either. People sometimes get sad when you call them names.”

I’m sure he’ll remember the episode until at least noon tomorrow. Then he’ll be back to bucka lucka and other gibberish. I look for toilet head to join the mix too.

But at least he learned that last one from a good kid from a good home. Maybe there’s still hope for both of them.

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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