There Are No Bad Kids

I read somewhere that there are no bad employees, only bad managers. If someone takes the time to fill out an application, get dressed for an interview and show up for work every day (or most days), then they obviously want/need to work. When their performance becomes an issue, it’s up to the manager to correct and solve that performance problem. A good manager is paid good money to do just that: Manage. A manager is not a baby sitter. A baby sitter gets to just watch things happen with minimal interaction and little consequence. A manager must be a psychologist, psychiatrist, adviser and veritable demi-god. Yes, a manager must be all things at all times, much like a parent. If a company fails, it’s not the employees fault – it’s because of poor management. And if my kids fail in life, it’s because I have failed as a parent.

All that is to say that I have taken an inward look and discovered that I do not in fact have bad kids. I have been a bad parent. I have failed to manage. Since I left the workforce 2 years ago, I have been a stay at home baby sitter. How did I discover this? Through Nadjah and my recent battles over online games; specifically, PBS Kids. Everyday our script goes something like this:

3:15 –  Nadjah walks in the door, throws her shoes and book bag in the middle of the floor and makes her first requests.

“Mommy, can I have some juice? Can I play PBS Kids?”

I’ve been running around all day, and am generally pissed with the news that her counterparts in Ghana are reading newspapers at age 6.

“No!” I scream. “Why don’t you sit down and read a book? Try to figure out what sounds the letters make?!?”

3:20 – She forlornly sits on the couch next to her sister to watch cartoons.

4:10 – “Mommy, can I play PBS Kids now?” She proudly shows me a piece of paper. She has scribbled:


“Guess what that says, Mommy.”

“I don’t know what that says.” I’m irritated. “It’s just a bunch of letters.”

“No it isn’t,” she insists. “It says ‘I Wish…'”

“That doesn’t say ‘wish’, Nadjah. What letter/sound does ‘wish’ start with??”

She stares blankly at me.

“W!” I scream. “Wish starts with ‘W’!!!”

4:20-6:45 – Preschooler and toddler drama continues, I wait for my husband to come home so I can get off duty, and I go to bed grumbling over what an illiterate the GA Pre-K program has made my child.


But then that’s they crux of the matter, isn’t it? That’s my child. I can teach her whatever I want! I can mold her into whatever I want her to be. Shoot, White supremacists are dedicated in teaching their kids to hate anyone darker than a clear plastic WalMart bag…I could teach my child intelligence, grace and hopefully, some common-freakin’-sense. It was time to put on my manager’s hat.  She is 5 after all…She doesn’t know what she doesn’t know, and how is she to know these things unless I teach her? Now our days go like this:

3:15 – Bookbag and shoes in the middle of the floor.

“Na, put your shoes on the stair and your book bag in the corner.”

The child obliges.

“Mommy, can I play PBS Kids please?”

“You have to learn how to spell a word first. This is how you spell ‘Wish’. W-I-S-H. Repeat it.”

She does.

“Repeat it 5 times without looking and you can play PBS Kids.”

She giggles coyly, stumbles a few times on purpose, and recognizes that I am neither smiling nor getting up from the desk chair to let her play until she spells ‘wish’ five times perfectly. The task is complete and she can play for half an hour.

4:20 –

“Nadjah, spell ‘wish'”


“Very good.”

Two days later at 6:45 – Hubby gets home to relieve me of duty. Before I go upstairs to collapse from delirium (because I still have a crazy 3 year old and needy infant son)  Nadjah shows him that she can now spell ‘wish’, ‘stop’, ‘hat’ and ‘car’. I am well pleased and proud.

She’s not reading Homer’s Iliad, but it’s a start!