The Good One’s elementary school has been following this year-long program based on Stephen Covey’s book The Leader in Me. I think the web site says that it’s a program he developed to assist schools in making sure our kids don’t end up pockmarks on the face of humanity.
Or something like that.
I think the idea is great. The students have been learning 7 habits they need to develop to be successful, and the entire school has had a focused, universal purpose.
For the past month the school has been sending home weekly and, for the past two weeks, daily reminders about the big Leader in Me Family Night they held this past Tuesday night. They wanted all of the families of all of the students to come up to the school to see what the kids have been learning all year.
First they wanted us to come up to the school for a fundraising hamburger dinner from 5:00 to 6:00. Virginia Slims Man doesn’t get home early enough for us to be at the school to eat dinner at 5:00, The Good One doesn’t like hamburgers and I don’t like eating meat that was cooked by the P.E. teacher on a chuckwagon with absolutely no sanitation equipment.
We decided to forego the dinner.
However, the school made a point of telling the students that by attending this school-wide shindig, they would receive a prize.
That was all The Good One needed to hear. I’ve mentioned before his obsession with receiving prizes regardless of how petty, stupid, cheap or crappily made they are. If it’s something he gets for free, he wants it. You could tell him that his attendance at a function would be rewarded with a ball of lint and he’d be begging to go.
Also, The Good One is on student council and all student council members had to work a shift, so we kind of had no choice but to attend. We thought about having one of us stay home with The Beast, but The Good One wanted all of us to go because he likes to show off his little brother. He does not yet realize that taking The Beast places is not such much a “showing off” as it is a “making a spectacle of.”
Regardless, we headed up to the school.
The E. coli dinner lasted from 5:00 until 6:00, and then from 6:00 to 6:30 there was going to be an assembly discussing the details of The Leader in Me program followed by a brief concert by the 3rd grade choir. Then from 6:30 until 7:30 all of the families were going to visit 7 different rooms to do an activity to help them learn more about each of the 7 habits.
We didn’t want to have to keep The Beast entertained for that long, so we arrived at about 6:25 so that The Good One could start his shift at 6:30. The room he had to report to was just outside the cafetorium where the 3rd graders were trying to kill the entire audience by making their ears hemorrhage. I’m kidding. I wasn’t in the room and I’m sure they sounded as lovely as you’d expect a 3rd grade choir with absolutely no sort of auditioning process to sound.
After the concert, all of the people that were in the cafetorium were released to begin visiting each station. Do you know what it’s called when a bunch of hot, tired, frustrated people who are likely nauseated from bad meat flee an overcrowded room at the same time?
It’s not a trick question. It’s a stampede.
I do believe that, fire codes be damned, all the people in the world were in that cafetorium. It took 30 minutes for them to exit and the amount of people channeling through the hallways was unreal. You know the scene in The Ten Commandments when Moses and the Israelites flee from the Egyptians through the Red Sea? Picture that, only no horses.
None of that is even a little bit relevant to my story.
Anyway, The Good One worked his shift in one of the rooms helping the families to write a family goal. During that time, VSM and I entertained The Beast in the hallway. And by “entertained” I mean we fed him lollipops and told him to stop screaming.
Immediately after The Good One’s shift ended, just as we were about to begin our visit to each of the classrooms to learn a habit of success, The Beast had an epic meltdown. I told VSM to take The Beast to the car and that I would help The Good One go to all of the stations.
I question the sense of the people who organized this thing because the school has about 500 students, and there were easily 200,000 people, give or take, roaming the halls of that school. And then each station was set up in only one room, so there were about 500,000 (I’m estimating) people trying to file into and out of 7 very small classrooms.
Again, none of that is really that important other than it shows a complete lack of planning, which I’m pretty sure would piss off Stephen Covey. But I don’t know. Maybe he doesn’t care about being organized. Maybe he likes chaos. If he likes chaos, then I think he’d be very pleased with the activity we attended Tuesday night.
So we went to each of these rooms and completed the assigned activity. We went to one room and wrote our family goal. We wrote that we want to spend 30 minutes playing together every night as a family. I really wanted to write that I’d strive not to throw Wheat Thins at The Beast in anger, but that’s more of a mommy goal than a family goal.
Then we went to another room where we were supposed to make a chore chart. I already have a chore chart that I’m doing a bang-up job of failing to maintain properly and I do not need another thing to remind me that I suck at maintaining chore charts, so we left that room.
Then we went to a room where we were supposed to come up with an acrostic poem about our family.
Do you know what an acrostic poem is?
Initially it sounded a bit religious and just a tad satanic to me, but once The Good One explained what it was, I stopped making the sign of the cross, quit whispering “Jesus Christ,” and relaxed enough to use the letters of our last name to make up a poem about how we’ll always love each other and respect each other and a bunch of other feel-good crap that, were it true, would make you cry.
I’m kidding. We love each other very much. However, I’m really not sure that my throwing food at The Beast would be considered respectful.
Then we went to a room and had a cookie. Really we were there to learn how to share. We were given one cookie and we had to figure out how to split it evenly between all of our family members, and since we’re geniuses we figured we’d need four pieces. I suggested saving it and sharing it with VSM and The Beast in the car, but The Good One said, “But I want to eat the whole thing since Dad and The Beast aren’t here.” He totally got Stephen Covey’s point that selfishness is okay if the other people in the group don’t realized they’re being screwed. We marked that activity off and moved to the next one.
This next one is the one that blew me away. We walked into a classroom in the 3rd grade wing and the room smelled like a mixture of bad cheese and the gym bag of a 23-year-old bodybuilder who uses that crystal rock deodorant. And then I saw that all of the people in the room had removed their shoes.
Dear God, why in the name of Mary Stuart Masterson would they all have taken off their shoes?
I know the answer to this, so let me tell you why. You see, Mr. Covey believes that in order for our children not to become resource-sucking leeches, they must first seek to understand and then to be understood.
In order to demonstrate this habit, someone came up with the idea of having everyone walk in someone else’s shoes. Literally.
So very unreasonable.
We were supposed to remove our shoes and swap with someone else and then walk along a bunch of jump ropes and then jump into these hula hoops and then report back to the staff member how difficult it was to do these tasks in someone else’s shoes.
If you take a small room with 75 people in it and you add to it the fact that it’s 86 degrees outside and nearly everyone is wearing sandals and flip-flops and you add to that that it’s approximately 98 degrees inside the room, you not only have a room that is hot and smells like someone is cooking feta cheese and a urine-soaked cat on a hotplate, but you’ve got a school full of people that are now sharing a common foot fungus.
Which of Einstein’s descendents came up with this? I’m guessing it was a local podiatrist in need of business. I mean, why not have everyone share a hairbrush and see if we can’t get the entire school infested with lice?
Needless to say, I chose not to partake in this activity. I said a small prayer of thanks that I had insisted that the Good One wear tennis shoes with socks, so when he swapped shoes with another tennis-shoe-wearing friend, I didn’t make him wash his feet in the sink in the back of the room.
I do commend the school for having a school-wide theme for the year, and I think teaching the kids good habits is a great idea. I just think that the execution of the plan was a bit pandemonious. (Not a word, but you know what I mean.)
At about this time, VSM called me from the van to tell me that we were about to be hit with a massive storm, so The Good One and I headed to the parking lot to leave.
So, what’s the point of all this other than the fact that my son’s school put on a poorly planned activity that gave everyone foot scurvy? I have no idea.
I guess we’ve just reached the point in our relationship where I feel like I can complain to you about the mundane parts of my day that drive me nuts.
It’s like we’re married. And just like my husband, I won’t have sex with you either.
Aren’t you lucky?
The Good One got his prize today. It was a plastic dog tag that says something along the lines of “I know Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Kids Who Successfully Avoid Incarceration” and he thinks it’s the best prize ever.
He’s easily pleased.
We should have skipped the program and I could have just given him a ball of lint.