Our Kindergartner (and youngest child) is very proud of “staying on green” at school. This was never a priority for his siblings. They talked and did plenty of other disruptive things. They weren’t problem children, but they typically weren’t going to qualify for the Good Citizenship Award at the end of the year either.
Hal, on the other hand, was getting a green sticker on his take-home calendar every single day. These stickers were typically green smileys. Sometimes it would be just a green dot made by a marker. Something, each day, to signify that he had been well behaved.
And then… and then… one day, we saw this:
A… yellow… sticker!
Shocked, I called Hal into the room. “What’s this, Sweetheart?” I asked him, careful to keep the question curious, not judgmental.
He looked confused.
“Did you get a mark?!” I asked in mock dismay.
He studied the sheet for a minute.
“Mommy,” he finally said, pointing to the yellow sticker. “Mommy, I think that that day was supposed to be green.”
“No, honey. It’s yellow. Do you remember what you did that day?”
“No, Mommy. I think it was supposed to be green. You see? It has a smiley face. So I think she ran out of green stickers. I was still on green.”
“No, sweetheart. When she doesn’t have a green sticker, she uses a green marker. See? Like all these other days.”
“But Mommy,” he said, earnestly trying to make his point. “Look. It’s got a smiley face. If it was supposed to be for yellow, it’d have a straight line.” (At this, he moved his finger straight across his lips).
“Honey, it means you were on yellow. She just has a book of stickers with all different colors and they all have smiley faces.”
He looked distressed. “But why would she put a smiley sticker for yellow?”
“It’s ok, sweetie. If the worst thing you ever do in your life is get a yellow sticker, we’ll be doing just fine. Ok?”
“Really, sweetheart. It’s ok.”
He left the room with his head hung low, not convinced at all that it would be ok. And also not convinced that that yellow smiley was really yellow.