When Miguel was little, we put him in a tiny little t-shirt that said, "Question Authority". We thought it was cute and we wanted our son to grow up and have a mind of his own. Many parents want this for their kids. It's noble...in theory. It is easy to forget, however, that you must then parent these children who question authority. Well, Miguel absorbed the words right off of that shirt and they became a part of him. He is a delightfully bright kid and he is generally respectful when he questions rules or expectations. Today, however, he had a little issue at camp - he refused to sign the rules. When we asked him why he wouldn't sign the rules, he told us that he thought they were good ideas but there were "problems" with them. I present to you the rules and Miguel's critique of said rules: Rule #1: Listen to the speaker
Miguel objected to the use of the word "speaker" because it was "confusing". According to Miguel a "speaker" can be "like a loud speaker or a person". Objection: word choice.
Rule #2: Respect others, yourself and property
Miguel said that this rule was not necessary because it is already a general rule of the camp. He did not feel that it should be included on the list of rules because it was a basic expectation. Objection: redundancy.
Rule #3: Be safe and have fun
Miguel did not have a problem with the safety part of the rule. He did, however, feel that no one should be forced to have fun. "People usually have fun at camp. You can't make people have fun." Objection: difficulty in enforcement.
Essentially, he refused to sign the rules because he felt that they were poorly constructed. This is funny stuff. We would have loved to burst into laughter but that damn parenting thing robs you of the fun. So, we talked to him about the importance of "going with the flow" and told him that he should have signed the rules without arguing since he agreed with the spirit of the rules. He then said, "I did. I signed the rules because the teacher told me that she would call my dad if I didn't." Yes, she used the word "dad". Yes, he brought with him a form that listed both of his parents by name. We asked him what he said in response and he said "nothing" and that he planned to "talk to her privately later".
It can't be easy to keep a group of 8 year olds in check and I'm sure that Miguel was annoying. I take no issue with that. But the "dad" comment? That is completely unacceptable. Families are complex and no one should make any assumption about a child's family. It's not just a queer thing. It's bigger than that. We've been through this before with Zeca (read here and here) and we'll deal with this again. Tomorrow, Luisa will take Miguel to camp and she'll challenge and educate...not just for our family but for all families that don't look like The Cleavers.
There are lessons to be learned here:
1)Be proactive with your kids' instructors. Educate them about your family but also challenge their assumptions about families in general.
2)Be careful with those cute toddler t-shirts. Miguel wore the "Question Authority" t-shirt and look at him. Zeca wore one that said "Benevolent Dictator" and...well...look at her.