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DALLAS — My husband recently called from an out-of-state business trip to tell me about a phone call he had just received from our middle school principal. Evidently, our son had been involved in “horseplay that got out of hand” and was given two before-school detention periods as a result.
Details were still pending, but the very word detention sent my mom angst through the roof. I blathered on to my husband about where we had gone wrong and questioned the disciplinary actions taken by the administration and fretted about the suddenly very uncertain future of our son.
“Honey, our kid’s gone rogue!” I blubbered in a highly logical kind of way.
After using requisite phrases such as, “I completely understand” and “You’re exactly right,” my husband told me the following story.
It seems that a group of kids from my husband's middle school (mostly nerds like my husband, who proudly owns that title) decided that the library was a perfect after-lunch hangout. The librarian was a gentleman ... with ... a particularly low tolerance for shenanigans.
It seems that a group of kids from my husband’s middle school (mostly nerds like my husband, who proudly owns that title) decided that the library was a perfect after-lunch hangout. The librarian was a gentleman of ample girth, with thick glasses and a particularly low tolerance for shenanigans.
The year started off with an open-access library policy but soon became invitation-only as the kids’ shenanigans reached epic proportions. Even my husband — who swears it was guilt by association only — was eventually banned.
Evicting kids can result in unintended consequences. For example, the ousted kids might start pulling obnoxious stunts — like banging on the doors and making faces through the windows — directly outside the library.
The librarian took great pains to cover the windows so as to block out panoramic views of noses and lips squished on the glass, but the incessant door pounding remained problematic. Driven to absolute desperation, he took to flinging the library doors open at random times and charging down the hall after the perpetrators, who always eluded capture.
According to my husband, it was the librarian’s repeated performance of this daring, gravity-defying act that earned him the nickname Water Buffalo.
The Water Buffalo’s penchant for opening the library door is also what gave my husband his brilliant idea. He had somehow learned how to rig a cup full of water above a door frame in such a way that it would tip over and spill onto whoever was unlucky enough to open the door.
Never in the history of the world had a more perfect opportunity presented itself to a middle school kid. My husband simply could not resist.
On the day my husband set up his contraption, ruckus outside of the library reached its zenith. Eventually, in a fit of rage, the poor librarian hurled the door open.
My husband still remembers watching every detail as if in slow motion: the cup tipping over, the water pouring directly onto the librarian’s head and glasses, the discombobulated librarian reaching for his glasses with one hand and swiping at the water on his face with the other, the laughter coming from down the hall and around corners.
After his few seconds of triumph, my husband felt terrible about it. He still does.
In contrast to my husband’s prank, my son’s horseplay (caught on the school’s security cameras) was fairly insignificant. Had there been cameras to immortalize my husband’s mischief, I’m guessing he would have received more than two before-school detentions.
I still wish that my son hadn’t participated in his own shenanigans. And I will never completely stop worrying about how my kids will turn out.
But if my husband can perpetrate such a mean trick during middle school and still turn out to be the absolute best man I know, there’s hope for my kids.
Lots of it.
Susie Boyce's column, "Momsensical," is featured in several North Dallas area newspapers and posts Thursdays on ksl.com. Visit her website at www.seriousmomsense.com.