Boots plays kindergarten cop
He also firmly believes that all criminals should be brought to justice, a trait no doubt honed over five years of being the put-upon youngest child. It's no coincidence that his first multi-word sentence was uttered in order to rat out Big Guy.
This all starts to cause problems, though, is when it's combined with his inability to differentiate between an infraction and a capital offense. And when he's so determined to see offenders punished that he causes more trouble than the original trouble-maker did.
The roots go back to his early days in kindergarten, when he was seated near one particular kid who has a problem keeping his hands to himself. That's not just Boots' take either. I've heard from other parents that the kid heckles their children as well.
In addition to the heckling, grabbing and throttling, the kid figured out that Boots is easy to get a rise out of so he stepped up his campaign.
I've seen the pattern before, with a kid on one of Boots' sports teams. The teammate would start picking at Boots, who would respond by wailing. It started out as friendly poking, but escalated once the teammate saw that he could get Boots to respond. The teammate would respond with a "who me?" grin.
"Yes, he's annoying," I told Boots, "but maybe he doesn't realize he's being obnoxious. And if he does realize it, he's going to keep doing it because you react. So stop reacting. Just ask tell him you don't like what he's doing and walk away."
That worked for a 10-game season, though not so well for 180 days of school. "Just stay away from him," I told Boots. I later found the teacher had told Boots the same thing.
Staying away became easier about a month ago, when the teacher moved Boots and the other kid to opposite sides of the room. Opposite sides of the country might have worked better. Although the kid no longer is within heckling distance of Boots, Boots now feels duty-bound to report every violation on behalf of every other kid in class.
"Teacher, he hit someone."
"Teacher, he's throwing things."
"Teacher, he's not doing his work" - never mind that Boots wouldn't know that unless he, too, was ignoring his work.
It's reached the point at times that Boots' attempts to make sure justice is served are creating more of a disruption that the original offense, his teacher told me.
So I tried again. "I know it bothers you when you see something wrong, and that's good in a lot of ways," I told Boots. "But it's not up to you to make him behave. It's up to your teacher, so let her do it. You just make sure you're behaving."
"But ... but ... but ..."
"No buts. It's not your job to police the world," I said.
My only consolation is that Boots isn't the only one. A friend's kid got a note sent home this week for telling his classmates to shut up, because under zero tolerance the rude and obnoxious draw the same consequences as armed robbery.
"Why did you do that?" the mom asked. "You know you're not allowed to say 'shut up'."
"I asked them three times to shhhhh, and they didn't listen," the boy replied.
Copyright 2011 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.