I’m Raising A Real-Life Dennis the Menace (So Help Me God)

The day I received a call from the Vice Principal of my son’s elementary school was a mixed bag of emotions; shock, denial, guilt, shame, and then anger- at both my child and the school simultaneously. My kid is in KINDERGARTEN people.

Is it that hard to color between the lines, sit in a circle for story time, and limit the number of boogers you eat in public? And if my kid elbowed a fellow five year old in line, is that really a principal-worthy offense? (In case you were wondering, the answer to all of these is a big fat YES).

I went from thinking, “I’m gonna kick that kid’s #%*”, to “This entire school system is more broken than my ‘off limits’ nativity set after Christmas.” I mean, when I was a kid I didn’t even know where the Principal’s office was! Or if it actually existed. My parents had a better chance of spotting a yeti in our backyard than getting a call from the school principal, and they had 3 kids!

But one thing I know for sure- if I had seen the Principal, I would have been terrified to come home that day. My already chewed up fingernails would have been bloody nubs by the time I made it through the front door.

But not my kid.

What does my kid do? He nonchalantly waltzes off the bus whistling a little tune with a sparkle in his eye and a skip in his step, waving at the neighbors and asking his dad what kind of special snack he got to have.

This tactic we were not prepared for. All of the pre-rehearsed ‘we’re-so-disappointed’ talk went right out the window as we were forced to abort the original plan and scramble a new one using only parental eye contact and facial expressions while the kid blissfully enjoyed his granola bar between us.

We decided to wait him out. Surely he was going to tell us. Or else the guilt would eat him alive. Right?


See, we aren’t dealing with your average 5 year old here. I guess I should have known. I’m no stranger to my child comedian’s shenanigans after all.

Like the morning when I heard a scream of terror from downstairs, to find him lying motionless at the bottom of our steps, looking quite unconscious. I got halfway down with my heart in my throat before I saw the ever-so-slight smirk escape from his pretend death stare.


Or more recently, when he was home from school with the flu and he cried out to me from the bathroom that he had a bloody nose. “It’s okay,” I comforted him from afar as I rushed in to help. Except it wasn’t blood on his face, it was red pen strategically (and quite amateurishly if I’m being honest), scribbled under his nostrils. “Tricked yuh!” he yelled all proud and pathetic looking. “Yeah you really got me,” I said, “Who’s the fool now?” I lamented, “Me for falling for another trick or the kid with pen all over his face?”

The boy who cried wolf rings hollow in this house.

So we decided to go about our day, waiting for him to cave and confess so we could bring forth the consequences. Throughout family dinner and then bath time, it never happened. It was almost humorous at this point. Almost.

At bedtime, I couldn’t hold back any longer. I asked him how on Earth he earned a seat in the Principal’s office on the third month of kindergarten!?

How did you KNOW!?” were his only words but the surprised expression on his face was priceless.

Because the principal calls parents when this happens!” I said, holding back the “DUH!” I wanted to yell.

But she didn’t tell me that!” he cried, as if that mattered. As if telling me that the only reason he didn’t confess was because she didn’t give him a heads up about the phone call would help his cause.

And this is how we knew we were in big trouble. That my five year old was capable of crying real, legit, God-fearing tears in the Principal’s office but could come home and pretend that everything was sunshine and rainbows. Except let’s be real, I have a boy so make that troll farts and poop emoji’s.

I realized then that we are going to have to prepare for the long haul with this one. We were gonna have to up our game. If he’s pulling this stuff at age five, what’s going to happen at fifteen? I’m gonna need to start building a wine cellar now for all the alcohol that it’s gonna take to get me through the teen years.

So we did what any good, loving family with morals and values and all that crap does. We told him that every time he goes to the principal’s office, somewhere, a puppy dies.

We’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, if anyone knows of a good therapist, shoot me a message. And pray for me.

And comment below with something your kid did that stopped you in your tracks. So I know I’m not alone. If you don’t, somewhere, a puppy dies.


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