Hedgehog has a very bad little boy in her second grade classroom, we'll just call him Sam. Sam is much reviled around Chez Weatherinthestreets; he teases, he pushes, one must go in to see the teachers about him sometimes even, and I know he's their Number One problem. They actually seem a bit unsure about how to handle this little wretch. But despite the very real problems with Sam, Hedgie is a secret fan of bad behavior. Part of this ill-concealed glee comes from the fact that she herself is incredibly well-behaved in school. If I were to psychoanalyze, I would say that she gets a vicarious thrill out of others acting out their Id when she herself is tightly governed by her Superego. But I won't get too Freudian here.
Or maybe I will. On our walk home from school this afternoon, Hedgie was bursting to tell me a story: in art class, when they were supposed to be creating little figures of some sort out of clay, Sam took advantage of a distracted art teacher. "Mama," Hedgie was actually bouncing along the street with laughter and excitement. "Sam made a clay penis! And then he glued it to the front of his pants and marched around the room showing it off!"
My reaction? I burst out laughing. How fabulous! I even said that to her. I asked Hedgie what the teacher did, and she said, "scolded loudly!" and I said I wasn't sure that it was deserving of a scolding. I told her that I didn't really think it was wrong to talk about penises or even to make a clay model of one.
But Hedgie, even in her delight, was still sensible. She reminded me that it was all about context. "Talking about penises in school would definitely be okay if we happened to be studying the human body," she said firmly. And making a clay penis? "That's okay too, but not to parade around and disrupt the class."
I had to concede the point.