As I step into the after school daycare, Noah runs at me.
“Dad, I got a gold star.”
The day care lady nods and gives me an impressed look.
“Yeah, Miss Anita gave it to me. Because like it’s the end of the month and uhm at the end of the month, like this was for the first month, yeah, so what month did we just finish, dad?”
“Yeah, so for September, I’m the one that got the star, you know.”
“Great, Noah, good going. But what was it for?”
He’s been acing everything since the start of the school year, so I’m fully expecting it to be for academic performance in French or English or Math….
It’s because I’m a writer that I’m so articulate.
“Yeah, dad. I got a gold star because I was like the one, the student like in all grade 4 that was the most in respect.”
“You mean the most respectful?”
“Yeah, full of respect, that’s me.”
A sparkle in his eye, a smile worthy of a tooth-whitening commercial. The boy is proud.
Not because he’s not a sweet, courteous kid. But because he rarely is that, at school. Discipline, staying still, listening, not clowning, Tough. The last year was all about helping him to respect the rules, the work to be done, others’ space. Daily exchanges of evaluations and strategies with his teacher, progress reports, rewards and loss of privileges etc.
It all seemed to have a very temporary effect.
“Are you telling me that, of all the Grade 4 students, you are the one who showed the most respect the whole month of September?”
“Yeah.” He looks at me with anticipation.
“The month of September which is the toughest month because it’s the first one and all the kids are still in summer party mode?”
“Uh, yeah !?!”
He’s gone a little still.
Suspense. A writer’s major weapon. Even bad writers.
The daycare lady has stopped listening to the lament of a skirt tugging six year old, to tend her ear in our direction.
I drop down on one of the pint sized stools. Stare at Noah. He’s totally in my power.
“Wow,” I say simply.
“I know, right dad? So cool, huhn?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that we’ve gotta celebrate with a crazy, gut busting, massive sushi party.”
“I loooooooovvvveeee sushi.”
He closes his eyes and throws his head back in delight.
The daycare lady breaks into a grin and turns her attention to the whiny skirt-puller at her feet.
“Oh, and dad? I did all my homework.”
The daycare lady nods in confirmation.
“Great, so tonight after we fill up on sushi, you can go on your DS and blast a few virtual enemies.”
“But dad, it’s Monday. Wednesday is like my Nintendo night.”
“I tell you, kid tonight is special. You earned it.”
It absolutely slays me when he’s so surprised that I praise him. As if he somehow can’t believe he’s a good kid.
But he holds doors open for strangers, apologizes when he bumps into somebody ad even runs to help old ladies, mothers with babies, smaller kids.
He is a bloody GREAT kid!
“You know, kid, what is sweet is that they’re finally seeing who you really are? And you’re a really really really really great kid.”
I’m overwhelmed by a wave of emotion as he hugs me on my baby stool.
“Thanks dad, you’re great too!”
“Come on let’s get out of here and get our party going.”
I’m about to break into song and do a crazy dance. I know if we’re outside Noah will join in.
I feel like doing the old standard R.E.S.P.C.T but Gangnam style….