My younger son Short turned five in July. He goes to the local public school with other five-year-olds and is in what is traditionally referred to as “kindergarten.” This is, however, not what he announces to neighbors, friends, classmates, grandparents, complete strangers, and anyone else who will listen when we are out and about.
“I am in 4th grade!” he offers proudly and frequently. “Four! Four! Fourth grade! Grade four!”
After the hundredth or so time this happens, I decide to it is time to put an abrupt halt to his hallucinatory behavior.
“Short. You are in kindergarten. You are not in 4th grade.”
“I know! I know you are right! I already know that! That’s what I said! Listen, Mommy, what I said was, I’m in 4th grade!”
It feels like I am bickering with my accountant about whether my new black skirt from Nordstrom that I wear to work is really a tax write-off. Fine. I have no idea where this tenacious number four is coming from, but you win, Short. It isn’t even worth arguing about anymore.
My older son Tall gets infuriated when Short becomes possessed with The Power of Four, as we have started calling it around our house.
“Short! Did you hear what Mom said? You. Are. Not. In. 4th. Grade. Get it through your kindergarten head! I myself am in 2nd grade, and I'm older than you! I'm seven! Understand?!? You can't even read, for goshsakes. All you know is how to spell your name and how to count to ten. Anyone can do that. How is it possible that you are two years younger than me, but think you are in 4th grade? Huh? Can you explain that?”
Short shrugs. “I only know what my teacher says. She told me four. Grade four. Sorry if you're wrong, Tall, but I'm right.” Another shrug. Then, for emphasis, he holds up four chubby fingers on his right hand. And, in case Tall still didn't comprehend reality, repeats loudly, “FOUR! 4th grade!”
Tall scowls. Short smiles, then walks out of the room. Winner.
I had my mandatory parent/ teacher conference the other day (of course I was wearing the Nordstrom skirt), and the teacher was telling me all about what a great student Short is and what a delight he is to have in her class. I forgot all about the obsession with four. Instead, I floated out of the classroom, high on myself and my obvious superior parenting skills. Once in the hall, I realized I had left my keys on the teacher’s conference table. I turned around to go back in and retrieve them. That’s when I saw it, the classroom number: