1. Secret or dishonest activity or maneuvering.
2. Silly or high-spirited behavior; mischief.
* * *
Yesterday at the pool, I was sitting with a friend of mine, Becky, and recounted a story of my daughter’s first day at pre-school. My daughter is now eight—soon to be nine—and she’s the best. But, when she was three, she went through a little phase of throwing full-blown temper tantrums (they lasted about two months, and the most notables occurred when I took her away from the train table at Barnes & Noble. This type of behavior was not acceptable to my husband and me, and we soon nipped it in the bud, but whooaaa, they were something).
Nevertheless, the word shenanigans is absolutely my favorite word in the dictionary.
I dropped her off on day three, after having stayed in the classroom for the first two days of school as part of three-year-old initiation. I kissed her goodbye and went on my merry way, knowing I would pick her up in two hours. My son had attended school there and loved it; he followed the rules and behaved like a big boy. We never had one issue with him.
When I returned after the allotted time and was heading toward the door and tons of other kids were exiting, happy mommies greeting their well-behaved kids, the “principal” of the school walked out with her.
“She can’t be your son’s sister,” she said.
“Oh God,” I said. “What did she do?”
“She banged on the door crying, kicking, and screaming, ‘I want my MOMMMY!’ She wouldn’t stop, so she spent the rest of the time in my office.” My daughter looked away.
Now I’d seen her throw a tantrum at Target once when she wanted to get out of the cart, but nothing to match the embarrassment of this escapade.
We went home and I explained to her rationally that we don’t behave that way at school. School is a place to learn and play nicely with other kids.
The next time I picked her up at school, I knew it was a bad thing when I saw the principal walk out with her, hand in hand.
“Not again!” I said.
“I’m afraid so,” she said.
When I put her in the car, I turned to her and gently (okay, yelling at the top of my lungs) said: “That is enough! We do not do shenanigans at school! You must not do it again! You are there to learn and make new friends! To play with Playdoh and build with blocks and paint and learn your ABCs! Don’t let me hear that you did shenanigans again! No more shenanigans!”
Finally, she got the message.
In that moment, in the car, all shenanigans ceased.
Two years later when she graduated from that pre-school, now a very well-behaved, happy, tantrum-free, and smart little girl who loved her teachers and her friends, she was walking my mother-in-law through the school, proudly pointing out her classroom, library area, and music room.
As we headed back downstairs, she stopped for a second.
“See that room?” she said, pointing to the principal’s office. “That’s where I used to do my shenanigans.”
A big “thank you” to my daughter for allowing me to tell this story in good humor. 🙂