Monday, December 12, 2011

Jackassery - It's elementary my dear, it's elementary

I have a history of behaving like a jackass. Not always my proudest moments but they happened, I was lucky enough to survive reasonably intact and life has moved forward.  I like to think I learned some lessons along the way.  Some friends have had their experiences with personal jackassery, too.  And really – some of my family have embraced jackassery like a religion.

Jackassery is learned. It takes practice.  Back in the day when kids just played outside–bikes, hide and seek, tag, a fair amount of potty mouth, trash talking and general mischief making – jackassery was honed and perfected.  In my ‘hood, we (me, L, T and the younger sisters) played “beep” on the hill which was really a handstand contest on a hill and you had to say “beep” when you landed.  Not the hardest game in town but we spent hours doing it.  It was the harmless fun that our parents saw.  The jackassery came later, when T and I would make splat candles. It involved matches, crayons and the curb.  We were in elementary school playing with fire – literally. And yes, both of us were told not to play with matches.  It was the early stages of jackassery.

I really wanted mini-me to experience that type of play and I’m lucky enough to live in a ‘hood where that can happen (minus the fire play though truth be told, I like that the fire station is only a block away). In the last couple of months, mini-me has become part of a neighborhood posse of two girls and three boys.  All are between 7 and 10 meaning that none of them are fully formed and that the potential for elementary jackassery is extremely high. 

Now, I’m told that with boys, this behavior is more the norm. Holy mother of boys behaving crazy – you ladies need to be EMT’s, engineers, mechanics and vending machines all rolled into one. Now, I know there are plenty of girls that fall into this category – I’m not being sexist – but mini-me and her girlfriends, while crazy active, imaginative, daring wild girls – are just more girly girls.

Some of the jackassery I’ve witnessed is quite elementary:

This isn't our kids. But it could be if we blink too long.
►  Boy pedaling bike with 15’ yellow nylon strap tied to back of bike; the other end tied to a skateboard pulling another boy.  Down the middle of the street. The boy on the skateboard careening into parked cars. Brotherly laughter ensues. 

►  Assorted kids get into back of wagon while token child pulls wagon as fast they can to pop curbs and watch kids fall out - on pavement, gravel - not grass.  Much laughter.  Now, to credit the girls – they are pulling as often as they are riding. 

Some show a real gift for it:

► Boy balances step stool on foot part of scooter, then stands on said stool so that he is driving the electric scooter from an elevated height all the way down the street, popping the curb into my driveway. If you think the girls were innocent in all this, you would be wrong. Totally cheering from the sidelines, egging him on and waiting their turn.  (To those of you thinking I’m completely irresponsible in letting this happen – I told him he was being a moron and made him stop. But I was secretly laughing.)

Now, the girls are not nearly as sweet as they want you to believe.

► Two boys decide they should jump in my pool because they would not be bested by 7-year old instigator telling them that the diving board really isn’t that high and she goes off it All.The.Time. The boys are ready to jump in fully clothed and the only reason mini-me didn’t was because she wanted to change into a new bikini (see, that girly-girl part.)  Now, mom of said boys likely thought I was a jackass for letting that happen but they got right out, I wrapped them in big, warm, fluffy towels and they admitted I was right, the water was too cold.  Now, c’mon, it was worth it just to hear them admit I was right. 

► I walked out front to see the girls singing – in the street – with a bucket at their feet in case cars and passerby wanted to throw money.  I’m sure cartwheels were also involved. We're afraid they liked it a little too much.

► Mini-A (the other girl in the posse) loves sidewalk chalk and I found “Party House” with an arrow pointing to my door in her handwriting. In the street. In 8’ letters.

In all honesty, these kids rock.  They are playing, running around and having fun with things that aren’t computers, television, movies or a DS.  The boy-girl thing doesn’t really come into play.  Mini-me sprawled on a sofa bed to watch The Smurfs with two of the boys last week. Mini-A  was seen yesterday standing on the foot rests of one of the boys bikes while he pedaled furiously down the street.  They are school friends, neighborhood friends. They check on one another, they watch out for one another. They helped mini-me during her first week riding the bus home – assuring me they would take care of her.  They are becoming a pack, a herd and a posse.

Like moms, like kids.  Much of the time, the mom posse and I are right there, sitting in our field chairs in my driveway, some sort of mommy juice in hand and channeling our inner trailer trash.  One of us is almost always yelling at one child or another – telling them to stop being a jackass. Then we look at each and laugh.

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