Zeke is a rule-abiding kid who likes to pretend to be a punk. Either that, or he's a punk who likes to pretend to be a rule-abiding kid. I've never been sure, but give him just enough lunch detentions to keep him in line.
Today in math class he said something like, "Rules are stupid!" I countered with: "Without rules there would be chaos. Do you want chaos?" He said, "Yeah! Chaos! I love chaos!"
So I pelted him with the whiteboard eraser, to demonstrate chaos.
Actually, that's only what I tried to do. Since whiteboard erasers have a large surface-area to mass ratio, it wobbled around a lot and hit Sarah -- a real rule-abider, and a sweet one to boot -- smack in the torso.
I tried to save face: "See? When there's chaos, nothing's fair. You were the one being a dope, but Sarah got hit with the eraser."
Sarah thought it was funny. Zeke, I am afraid, remained unconvinced by my object lesson.
Next time I'll throw something heavier, that's all.
* * *
Next time, too, I'll have to go to work somehow on Kaelijn, but I'll have to throw something really heavy at her -- maybe Plato's collected dialogues or something . Witness this exchange:
JP: I'm sorry, Kaelijn -- you have to have a parent or teacher with you. I'm not allowed to let you go to the book fair by yourself. [This is my usual tactic for preemptively avoiding stupid arguments: it's not my rules, it's the boss.]K: Oh my gosh, Mr. P! You always follow the rules! You just love rules! But rules are meant to be broken!
That would have been funnier if she hadn't been completely sincere in this stupid, stupid statement. It would have been funnier, also, if I hadn't detected that Kaelijn was using the tone she always employs when she is echoing some stupid, stupid thing her mother has taught her about (shudder) self-actualization.
I was almost tempted to mention my jail time -- I used to be stupid too, but I was 19, whereas she is in 6th grade and ought to know better -- and maybe flash my tattoo. But I just employed my hollow laugh (I am getting good at the hollow laugh) and said, "Ha, ha, Kaelijn. What a foolish thing to say."
'Cause I'm not allowed to say the s-word -- stupid. Those are the rules.