Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The forbidden finger

My child learned early that there are five fingers on each hand, and five toes on each foot. We didn't press the point that a thumb is somehow a superior finger, but we also didn't spend hours singing the "Where is ***insert finger here***?" song. We're referring to a kid who still puts her shoes on the wrong foot and her shirts on backwards (even the ones that still have those annoying tags that scratch her neck). And so, it comes as no big surprise that my child does not know which finger is the middle finger.

What did shock and awe me is that this child was reprimanded for using her "middle finger" to point at some word in a book. She didn't wave it at a student -or Heaven help me, a student - with a sneer (though mommy has, on occasion I am ashamed to admit, done that to her fellow motorists while calling them idiots - - and Chi has reprimanded me for calling them a bad name). She wasn't trying to be devious. She just chose the wrong finger to point. And for that, she was punished.

Now I ask Chi how her day is routinely. And usually the reply is a cheery "This was the best day ever." or "This was the greatest day." and occasionally, "This is/was the worstest day ever." On the day that this occurred, I got the silent treatment. I was certain I had committed some terrible Mommy-forgot-it-so-I-suffered-for-it sin.

The grumpy, silent funk lingered through a dentist's appointment. And my kid likes the dentist (it is, after all, a great place to get balloons, stickers, tiny toys, and to see Oma). She adamantly refused to get in the dentist chair proclaiming "You're gonna have to make me get in it."

Upon confessing to this catastrophic event in her young life days after the incident occurred, she burst into tears proclaiming "I just knew Mommy would be disappointed or angry in me. I'm a terrible person." Yes, she was concerned that Mommy would be disappointed in her having been in trouble at school.

And I had to explain to my just-turned-six-year-old that the middle finger was considered a bad finger and was rude or mean to point at someone. She still doesn't get why, and frankly I really don't know why either. It's not the kind of teachable moments that I want to have to have. It should have been handled better in school. Instead, I had to once again tell my baby that I wasn't mad at her mistake. I had to let her know the teacher who yelled at her should have simply corrected her pointing error (without letting her know that I disapproved of the entire incident caused by an uncaring, unsympathetic imbecile teacher who determined that all kids are innately malicious, deviant, defiant, and bad.)

Chi has since inquired every few days, "Which one is the middle finger again?" And I've explained how to count them, how the middle finger is taller, and how two finger surround the mean one for protection.

And just this past weekend, she was told by her Oma (innocently enough) that she has a middle toe. Poor Chi was shocked. "You mean I have a bad toe too?"

As though she could ever individually lift her toe in anger and frustration. As if said toe is ever uncovered long enough when the "wear your socks/slippers/shoes or catch a cold" grandparent is lurking around the house. As if Chi liked wearing the sandals and flip flops that stunt her ability to swing around the jungle gym, monkey bars and playground.

And this is just the beginning of learning the terrible social "graces" we've created to insult one another. I'm sorry, baby, there's a lot of forbidden body language you're gonna have to learn soon. Mommy can't keep you protected and innocent forever :(

1 comment:

Joy Howse said...

What an idiot of a teacher. That situation could have been handle SO much better. My 9 yr old has no clue and at times points with his middle finger as well.