When I was an RA in college, I was very impressed by the close relationship the Blanton/Nason staff had. When I asked my friend Carla how they got to have such a tight bond, I found out the truth.

They were an extremely close staff, and that had been fostered by having a hall director who would take off to be with her out of town boyfriend without letting her boss, or her staff know. Hence, if the RA staff needed something, they only had each other to rely on. This stress and responsibility, though unwanted, did bring the staff closer together.

In a much lower stakes way, I see this same connection in our children. They may fuss and fume and fight with each other, but if pressure is applied from the outside, and I’m not available to run resistance, they pull together like a well-trained team of Amish horses. (We’re a little unworldly that way.)

They still talk about their indignation and anger at the staff at the Sport & Health Fitness Center we used to belong to. In fact, every time we drive past, they talk about their hatred of the place.

Here’s the story:

Several years ago, I would go work out while the three children stayed in childcare. This was moderately successful, as long as Yessa knew that she could stay close to the “Z’s.”

After my workout one day, I returned to the childcare room to find them fuming with indignation. The staff person told me Yessa had been in “timeout,” for hitting another little boy, but that everything was fine.

Well, everything was not fine. Yessa had been put in timeout because she retaliated with a punch when another little boy hit her first. Both the children were put in time out. As you may suspect, we don’t use timeout in our family, so this was a bit of a shock to her system in the first place. In addition, she wasn’t used to being spoken to harshly, and though it may not have been harsh in the staffer’s mindset, it cut Yessa to the core. She began to cry, and Monkey immediately went to comfort and hug her.

Staffer informs Monkey that she has to “keep your hands to yourself.” Monkey tries to explain she wants to just give Yessa a hug, but this is not allowed.

The other little miscreant gets up and just leaves the timeout area, while Yessa is left there until I arrive.

I have seldom seen the children so indignant and livid over another person’s–to them–senseless behavior. They also were so angry at having their version of the story ignored. The staffer had no interest in learning what happened. For her it was dealt with with punishment, now let’s move on.

My kids weren’t ready to move on.

And that was the last time they went to childcare at Sport & Health.

And I was fine with that. The lesson of sticking up for each other was a more important one.

We stick together...