Yesterday, GWE and I worked from home. We sat across from each other most of the day attempting to get serious work accomplished. It was great spending the day together, but we were so busy we rarely spoke to one another. She was focused on writing a proposal and I was on the phone pitching clients for pilot season.
Around 3:00pm, GWE’s phone rang with a blocked number. She chose to let it go to voicemail and then played the message back. What we heard was the following message:
“Hi. This is Teacher “S.” Um…Justin’s fine. We would like to talk to you before you pick him up, so please call us at xxx-xxxx.”
GWE and I just stared at each other. We had gotten this message before and it meant one of two things: Justin was injured and we shouldn’t be shocked when we see his new “boo boo” or Justin was a troublemaker.
We called back immediately (on speaker-phone). When Teacher “S” got on the phone, she told us that Justin had been caught punching one of his friends. The teacher “removed him from the situation,” took him into the main office to speak with Teacher “B”, and together they asked him to explain his behavior.
His response was simple: “I’m strong to the finish, ‘cause I eats me spinach. I’m Popeye the Sailorman. Toot Toot.”
There was a moment of silence on the phone. And, in a response that I’m certain Teacher “S” was not expecting, GWE and I burst into hysterical laughter. I don’t think the teacher appreciated our immediate response (and privately thought “No wonder this kid is the way he is!”) She continued by saying, “We think he is too influenced by Popeye and therefore it would be most beneficial if he stopped watching that cartoon.” I told the Teacher that I too had noticed a few subtle changes in Justin since he started watching Popeye. I told her that he had begun smoking out of a corn cob pipe and frequently spoke of joining the Marines. Again, she was not amused.
We assured her that we would handle the problem and that Justin would no longer be watching Popeye.
GWE and I rarely let Justin watch television alone. I was the parent he chose to watch Popeye with and I have to admit that even though I loved watching Popeye as a child – I probably had not seen an episode in 25 years! As I watched these cartoons with Justin, I remembered thinking – “Wow! This is violent!!” All Popeye does is drink, smoke, and fight…and sometimes he even slaps Olive Oyl around by accident. Not a great role model.
I want Justin to learn from the world around him. In the case of “Popeye vs. Justin,” I would like for him to understand that it’s good to eat your spinach, bad to punch your friends, and necessary to check with a doctor if your forearms are bigger than your head!