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My boys, three years apart, enjoyed the same second grade teacher. Actually, I enjoyed her very much myself. Mrs. J was a fantastic teacher who maintained a classroom balanced with fun and order. She was very creative when it came to assignments and projects, too.

Each year, during the week before Curriculum Night (the evening during which the parents were invited to visit the classroom and hear an overview of that year’s curriculum from the teachers), Mrs. J asked each student in her class to choose a parent to draw and describe. She told the kids to refrain from writing any names on the front of the papers, and on Curriculum Night we parents would walk into the classroom and try to identify which picture and description was created by our own child. It was a fun activity, but the raw, brutal honesty was occasionally shocking as we found pictures that had descriptions such as, “My mom has crazy hair.” or “My mom is fat.”. It was hard to reconcile that there was no malice whatsoever in these descriptions: the teacher asked the children, seven years old, to describe a parent, and that’s what they did.

When D was in Mrs. J’s class, we had a hard time picking his picture out. When we finally found it, we had a good laugh (and a sigh of relief, if I have to be honest in this post about honesty!). He drew a picture of me and part of the description read “My mom is a big nice lady.” So true: I was big to him, and I am nice. I’m also a lady. I loved that picture: in fact, I still have it in a box of his school papers, and we still use “she’s a big nice lady” in conversations, just to be nostalgic and funny.

When J was in Mrs. J’s class, we found his picture (also still here in the house, in a box of his school papers) immediately. He drew a picture of me (Two for two! Sorry, Jim!) flexing my bicep. His description read, in part, “My mom works at *insert name of health club here*. She is a strong whitey.” Still so true. He knew that I worked out regularly, and I did/do have white skin. Though the term “whitey” is typically known for being offensive, this was my then-seven year old, calling my skin tone as he saw it.

These days, my kids are still pretty honest about things. Jim and I love to sit at the dinner table and have long chats with them so we can get an idea of how they feel about certain issues, and I’m happy the boys know that even if they don’t agree with us on one thing or another, there can always be friendly debate and respect of each other’s opinions. When we’re having a conversation and I ask them if they like something, they aren’t shy about telling me no if they don’t, even if it’s the dinner I spent more than an hour preparing. The difference now from then is that as they have grown up, they have gained the ability to be tactful and well-spoken.

Of course, I still get a teenaged eye-roll or a chin drop/head shake combo every now and then, and one of those often says more than words can convey.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Hyacynth September 16, 2011, 8:36 am

    I love that you all gather around the table to share and talk … I hope in the years to come, my boys will want to do the same around our table. Maybe I should take notes on how you’ve fostered this type of relationship. 🙂 Sounds it like started early with the embracing of their expression. {You are a nice lady, by the way. 😉 }

    • Melisa September 22, 2011, 6:58 am

      Thank you! 🙂
      Yeah, family dinners are something we’ve really tried to maintain. It gets so hard once they’re teens and have their own activities, but you just have to try harder!

  • Taryn @ InnerFatGirl September 16, 2011, 11:58 am

    I just laughed out loud at strong whitey! Great memory.

    • Melisa September 22, 2011, 6:57 am

      It makes me laugh every time I think of it!

  • Tara R. September 16, 2011, 1:15 pm

    The teenage-eye roll can be deafening at times. It’s good that your boys are confident and comfortable enough that they can openly disagree with you or Jim, and that you give them opportunities to voice their own opinions. Way to go Mom!

    • Melisa September 22, 2011, 6:57 am

      Thank you!

  • Barb September 16, 2011, 6:49 pm

    So cute! I keep all of those things too. Big, nice, lady….love it. I teach 4th grade and while they are better at descriptions they still say and write some very funny and sweet things!

    • Melisa September 22, 2011, 6:56 am

      I love 4th graders: that’s a great age because they’re a little sassy!

  • Flawless Mom September 16, 2011, 10:30 pm

    I’m totally with you on the honesty thing. I’ve always felt telling the truth, even when the tiniest bit hurtful, is the way to go. You sound like a great family. (But I think I already knew that.)

    • Melisa September 22, 2011, 6:54 am

      Aw shucks!

      And kids DO rule. I love priceless gems like those. (the kids AND the descriptions)

  • Heather September 18, 2011, 8:38 am

    It is so funny how kids just say what is on their mind, although I’m sure it’s embarrassing at times. I really enjoyed the time I spent with D earlier this year cause he was so personable & a good conversationalist 🙂

    • Melisa September 22, 2011, 6:55 am

      Isn’t he? 🙂
      I’ll keep him, I guess. haha

  • As Cape Cod Turns September 19, 2011, 7:41 am

    You strong whitey. That’s going to have me giggling all day 🙂

    • Melisa September 22, 2011, 6:54 am

      You’re welcome!

  • Kate, aka guavalicious September 24, 2011, 9:37 am

    Strong whitey is totally your new nickname.
    I love when my kids really talk to me. It cracks me up to hear what they come up with.

  • Melissa September 24, 2011, 12:33 pm

    Family dinners are a special time for us too. Maybe it is raising boys and something about food gets them to open up? LOL Whatever works, right?