I remember going on a vacation when I was in college and getting breakfast in a diner. There was this little boy with a mischievous smile staring at me from behind his seat. His family was eating and seemed oblivious to the boy. I smiled at him and he continued to stare but then he also began to blow spit bubbles from his mouth. My friend and I were the helpless audience of this one boy show and it was about to get a lot more interesting.
The spit bubbles transformed into a long sticky string of spittle which he dangled and then sucked up again complete with sound effects. I almost giggled but knew that this would only encourage the boy. At this point the mom finally took notice and yelled to the air, "Will you sit down Charlie!" to which Charlie quickly plopped down onto his seat but just as quickly rose up again like a jack in the box. Charlie was soon jumping up out of his seat like a pop tart, making sure to grin at us as he did so.
Charlie bounced on his seat until his mom yelled again, "Sit your butt down!" He slunk down into the seat and then disappeared from view. I thought maybe he had settled down when I saw something on the floor beside us. It was Charlie crawling toward our table. I tried to point him away but I should have known my feeble point would have no effect on Mister Charlie. He finally crawled under our table and was resting against my legs. I looked to my friend and she looked at me. "There is a boy under the table" I whispered. "Uh yeah I know, I saw," she whispered back. And then I said out loud, "This is one bad kid!" to which Charlie got up from under the table and yelled, "I heard that! I am NOT BAD!" Finally Charlie's mom notices he is gone but doesn't even turn around. In one bellow she calls, "CHARLIEEEEE!!!" Charlie swarms back to his seat, glares at me, and retaliates with, "You're bad!"
This incident took place when I was a naïve young lass without much experience with children. In due time I would meet many Charlies. I was going to graduate school to become a special education teacher. I learned all about behavior management and what strategies to employ to help children control their behavior so that they could learn. It all sounded great in the text books but in the actual classroom it was plenty difficult as there might be ten Charlies running around or hopping like Tigger.
Many years later when I quit my job working with the special needs population to stay at home with my baby boys, I had no inkling that my youngest son would grow to be a Charlie. The scene in the restaurant from my college years was replayed when my son Max was about five or six. He was really into watching the Rug Rats cartoon. And he liked to act out what he saw. We were on vacation, went to a restaurant and Max wants to crawl under the table. This was what the Rug Rats do in an episode when they go on vacation. The waiter comes and my son is under the table. I slide him up by his arms and onto the seat as the waiter looks surprised. We order and I begin to wonder if we are going to need to get things to go.