Stay on the Sidewalk

The Rebel

When my son was a preschooler in daycare
His class had a field trip to the local In ‘N Out
As we walked back to the daycare center
My son held my hand
We walked in pairs down the sidewalk
His daycare teacher said
Everyone stay on sidewalk
Do not step into the driveway or the road
My three-year old son touched his foot in the gutter
Just his tippy toe
His teacher swiftly grabbed him from my hands
Took him with her to the front of the line
She gave me another child to walk
A more compliant, less rebellious child
My son, he was rewarded
He got to walk at the front of the line
Beside his favorite teacher
I was punished
Humiliated actually
Bad mother
Cannot control her child
Later that day when I returned to work
I told this story
One of my bosses smiled
Kitt, you love that in your boy
That your boy rebels against the rules
Just like the Berkeley rabble-rouser you once were
Pushing the limits
Yes, it still brings a smile to my face
That I have a son who dared touch his toe to the gutter
He understood the importance of staying with the group
He understood the spirit of the law
He did not run out into the road
Yet he questioned, dared to test, the letter of the law
What happens, he wondered, if I break this rule just a little bit
The memory also hurts
How dare that teacher rip my son from my hand
How dare she judge me and my child
Deem me unfit to walk my son back to daycare
Before I had to return to work
Return to work judged an ineffective mother
Return to work rather than stay with my son
Now that I think about it
He punished me
How dare I go back to work
How dare I not stay home with him


23 responses to “The Rebel and His Mother”

  1. Haha, yes, I know all about that, but today, it was an amazing day!

  2. In both good and bad ways.

  3. So cute, your rebellious little son and you. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree 🙂

  4. My kid was a handful. He’s struggled with ADHD, migraines, depression & social anxiety. I took him to see a child psychologist at 4 and a child psychiatrist at 5. He’s an example of successful early intervention. He inherited quite a few burdens from us, but is a kind, sensitive, intelligent soul.

  5. I also struggle with feeling judged as working mom and just as a mom in general.
    I’ll be honest, I kind of adore quiet rebellion in kids. I’m currently parenting a stubborn, limits-testing toddler; so I love to see that they grow up to be pretty great teens.

  6. He was! Now he’s a handsome young man. Still playful.

  7. I love your poem Kitt! Great imagery, great points about control versus playful sponteneity. Your son in this poem sounds absolutely adorable (“tippy toe”). Thanks for sharing this! 🙂

  8. He still has the same spirit. Love the guy. He was a handful when he was younger. Pretty cool 16-year-old, though.

  9. I’m impressed that you held your tongue with that teacher! I would have said something. What a beyotch. I don’t think your son was punishing you, though. (If that’s what you meant at the end). I think he was being awesome, spirited, and a little leader. Very cool poem.

  10. He understood the spirit of the law
    He did not run out into the road
    Yet he questioned, dared to test, the letter of the law
    Isn’t that what makes him your Son? 🙂

  11. Sometimes, we just need to take a step back and collect ourselves. Therapy helps, of course. Social media can fuel our fires, since our readers often are supportive and don’t challenge our perceptions. I challenged you because I know what your rage feels like, and I know that it’s better to calm down before acting. I’ve blown up when I shouldn’t have (like to a boss!).

  12. Me, too. I want my son to think for himself.

  13. Precisely. Love that spirit!

  14. I wish I could steal vanbythriver’s eloquent comment!
    I used to be insecure as a mom too, but I’m getting better with age (i.e. the recent theater group’s staff member’s ridiculous breach of confidentiality I blogged about.) Because of that and other incidents, I’ve learned to stand up for myself a little more. In-person confrontations are still incredibly difficult due to anger issues. Hence, I see my therapist. Xo

  15. Maybe I'll Shower Today Avatar
    Maybe I’ll Shower Today

    I have two boys who like to test their limits. I think (hope) it’s because as a parent I have created a secure space in which they can do that.

  16. It was just his toe, but it was a message from his spirit. Wonderful. ?

  17. I have to admit I was pretty insecure as a mother. Now I would stand up for myself.

  18. Thank you. Love my boy and his spirit.

  19. “Gutter-touching rebel.” Love it! Who wants a clone follower?
    And I agree…she shouldn’t have taken him away from you. I’d like for her to have tried that with me. She’d have had a little more than a toe touching that gutter! LOL

  20. Powerful story, Kitt. I can so relate as the mother of another gutter-touching boy. You articulated so well the depth of emotions that such a simple event can elicit. Thanks for sharing!

  21. Honestly, I got her fired, which I regretted because my son loved her. We reconciled later and she became his babysitter. She was better with kids than with adults, clashing with authority and peers. Preschool kids don’t mind having their teacher tell them what to do. Adults, on the other hand, do.

  22. Love, love, love this. #1, as a former teacher, I would NEVER had taken your son away from you. I always kind of liked kids who pushed the limits and questioned authority. And #2, if I had been you, I probably would not have allowed the teacher to do what she did, and taken my son home immediately upon arrival back to school. She usurped your authority as parent – not the right thing to do. At the very least, I would have given her a very large piece of my mind!

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