I laugh all of the time about things my kids say. I have often thought, "Man, I'm glad you said that at home" or "I am so glad no one else heard you say that" because some of the stuff that comes out of their mouths could easily be misinterpreted if someone didn't know the context. This afternoon, I found out how very true that is. I got an email from a teacher at my kid's school. It is not from HIS teacher. Just some random teacher that looks over the class during lunch and recess. I wish that I knew how to screen-shot it, because it has this frou-frou border of hearts and flowers and vines, but I don't, so I'll just copy and paste and then change all of the names.
Dear Mrs. Caballero,
I wanted to touch base with you about something that has me a little concerned. I recently overheard your son telling some other children about the secret compartments that you have in your car that you use to "smuggle contraband." I pulled him aside and tried to speak with him privately to discover the origin of these stories. At first he seemed confused and then he told me that he wasn't allowed to talk to me about it because I could get his family in trouble. I asked him what contraband was, and he refused to answer. When I pressed him about how he shouldn't make things up, he looked relieved and began nodding and eagerly agreeing with me that the stories were made up. I have spoken to the assistant principle about this issue and she and I both agreed that since we don't really believe that your family is involved in anything illegal, that we'd bring this issue to you. I hope that you can resolve this issue at home with him. (Also, if you wouldn't mind, I'd love a little background on this situation as I am thoroughly confused).
A Concerned Teacher
My son said WHAT???!!!
After reading this, I called the little offender downstairs to talk to him. At first, he denied the whole thing saying that he had no idea what I was talking about. But with a little prompting, it rang a bell. After he got started with his story, I had a hard time keeping a straight face.
It seems that he was telling his friends on the playground about our new van. It has "Sto-N-Go" storage compartments beneath each seat. He told them it was like being a smuggler and about all the stuff he could put in them. In the telling of this most intriguing tale, he mentioned the word "contraband." I stopped him here and asked him what contraband meant. He said "I dunno. I think it's just stuff. I heard it on Star Wars." I nodded and told him to proceed -- no sense going into all of the varied meanings of the word contraband with my 10 year old. Well, he tells me that this teacher heard him and "went nuts" asking him all about this contraband, where it was hidden, whose it was, etc. He said that he told her that he didn't want to talk about it because she was just trying to get his family in trouble. [Sidebar here -- some good friends of ours had CPS (Child Protective Services) called on them by someone who was trying to make trouble (whole other story there). He knew about it and thought this teacher was trying the same thing.] Then he said that she started saying "IF you are making these stories up, you need to stop" and he was trying to end the conversation because recess was over and he didn't want to get into trouble for not going inside with his class, so he started nodding and agreeing with her.
Ooooookay. Now that I know what has happened, I am no longer annoyed with my son, but this teacher needs an intervention. I am quite certain that anyone nosy enough to eavesdrop on a group of fourth grade boys on the playground could really use a hobby. Surely there was juicier gossip from the girls. Or here's a thought, why don't you restrict your busy-bodiness to the adults. I guarantee that the stories in the teacher's lounge could put my kids smuggling tale to shame. I mean, wow, talk about blowing things out of proportions. This is a prime example of someone looking for trouble, creating conflict, and cultivating drama. And people sticking their nose, or ears in this case, where they don't belong is how things get twisted around, misinterpretted, and cause real problems for families.
My first reaction was to just ignore this. But we all know that letting something like this go just isn't in my make up. Still, since I have 2 kids at this school and 2 more who will attend in the next few years, I may have to deal with this woman in the future, so I needed to tread a little lightly here.
I thought about being a total smart ass, something I am very good at, and making her think there might be something going on but not giving any indication that there was anything illegal involved by responding with something random and vague like "DID HE MENTION THE LEGOS??!!" with the hope that she would think that I was either completely insane or speaking in some sort of code. Then I toyed with the idea of playing this out, leading her to believe that we WERE in fact smugglers or drug runners, or perhaps the kingpins of a human trafficking ring. I could allude to a "family" connection or something like that (I actually have no idea how i would do this since my biggest brush with the law was doing 90 in a 65). But if I took that route I ran the risk of CPS being called in and that is a headache (and potential heartache) that I don't want to deal with or put my kids through. I saw first hand how stressful that can be even when the accusations are ridiculous and false because that's what happened to some very good friends of ours. Also, posing as a smuggler could potentially draw the attention of the police, the FBI, or the ATF. Or even worse than that, REAL SMUGGLERS -- some scary cartel or the mob. (Yes, I am completely paranoid, go HERE if you need further verification of the insanity).
So to avoid any horse heads in my bed, police surveillance vans in front of my house, or CPS interviews, I simply emailed her back in my own personal style. Without any frilly email stationary of hearts and vines.
Dear Concerned Teacher,
I'm sorry that my evil little mastermind has somehow convinced you that he is living in an episode of "Sons of Anarchy," but I assure you this was a gross misunderstanding. As much of a welcomed change of pace a smuggling career might be to the day-to-day life of a stay at home mom, I am sorry to have to break it to you that we are not, in fact, working for any drug lords or human traffickers.
Had this been any other day of the week, you might have been emailing me to find out if we actually had Jawas or Wookies or droids in our back yard (which is about as likely as us being smugglers). Seriously, the only place my kid has even heard the word "contraband" is on Star Wars when Han Solo and Chewbacca ran contraband in the Millennium Falcon. He has Star Wars on the brain. I taught him math with word problems about X-Wing Fighters.
Here is the explanation of what you overheard and misinterpreted: We recently got a new van with "Sto-N-Go" storage compartments. The kids are fascinated by them. William has referred to them as "smuggler bins" because, well, he is a 10 year old kid and thats just the sort of thing that 10 year old boys do. This afternoon my 7 year old daughter tried to hide in one. She nearly fit because A) she is a tiny, tiny, human being, and B) the storage compartments really are quite large. However, I can assure you that the only things hidden in them are crumbs, stray toys, and wet wipes.
If you promise not to turn us into the cops, I could totally score you some stale Cheetos from the bin in the back.
Amused, But Completely Mundane Mom
Hopefully, this adequately delivers the necessary message.