The Nicola Johnson School for Gentlemen (in-training)

The Professor is two provinces over, in the ‘Peg. As we’re calling it. Everyone else just refers to it [seemingly interchangeably] as Manitoba, which begs the question: are there no other cities besides Winnipeg in Manitoba?

Whenever the professor goes out of town, I’m overcome by a highly delusional sense of purpose and, from the moment his plane departs, start scheming about all the things I’m going to do while he’s away. Like seriously clean the entire house. Purge all our possessions save the five things we need. Redecorate, organize the 20,000 photographs infringing on the desktop’s memory, read three books, write my own and prepare and freeze meals for a week.

If only I were kidding.

And then, as was the case today, I start ‘seriously cleaning’ the house and…….five hours later…..I’ve finished with the living room . That’s how long it takes to deep-clean a small space while also buckling a 3 year old into a stroller so his brother can push him up and down the sidewalk in front of the house, finding shoes that the shoe-averse babe is willing to wear, getting out two bikes that will be used for five minutes, getting snacks, finding jackets, putting jackets on and taking them off, doling out chocolate chips [i.e. bribes], and then cleaning up everything they discarded in the process. Like the twenty pillows hurled from inside their fort onto the ice in the backyard.


Around 4pm I had to revise my to-do list slightly to: order pizza for dinner, eat copious amounts of chocolate….and teach the boys how to be gentlemen.

[I mean, introduce the boys to the concept of being gentlemen, because if 5 hours of my time yields a clean living room, I’m guessing a weekend isn’t enough to turn my boys into well-behaved pillars of society.]

The gentlemen discussion has been an ongoing one chez nous. It mostly happens at the dinner table when the boys exhibit less than stellar habits. So we talk about how gentlemen don’t chew with their mouths open, or run around the table while others are eating, or talk about their bathroom habits.

Ever mindful, the Hen informed his 3 year old brother today, ‘gentlemen don’t poop.’ To which I responded, ‘yes they do, but they don’t talk about it.’

I saw a fellow school-mom this morning. We chatted about what we were doing this weekend. ‘I’m enrolling my boys in gentlemen school,’ I offered, for lack of any more exciting tidbits. ‘Is that an actual place?’ she wondered. ‘Oh no,’ I assured her it was a virtual school of my own creation.

The first order of gentlemen school happened after breakfast, when I instructed the older boys in the art of rinsing their smoothie glasses and cereal bowls. [Because by the time their slacker parents tend to them they’re so crusted over that not even the heavy-duty cycle on the dishwasher can render them clean.]

And this evening, past their bedtime, after Lego, pizza, the bookstore and a failed attempt at watching a family movie, the older boys and I sat [crawled and rolled, more like] on my bed and chatted about being a gentleman. We talked through their whole day, from the moment they got out of bed.

‘So after breakfast, what does a gentleman do?’

‘He puts on his socks and his boots,’ the Hen began.

‘So a gentleman wears pajamas to school?’ I asked, since our hypothetical gentlemen had not yet gotten dressed.

And there were loud guffaws about the ridiculousness of it all.

‘And if a teacher calls your name and says ‘come here’ what do you say?’

‘Yes, I’d love to!’ the Gort answered enthusiastically.

And I bit my lips so I wouldn’t laugh out loud.

I’d just talked  the ‘gentlemen’ home from school when one boy accidentally hit another in the eye and there was weeping and it was quarter-to-ten and I was suddenly tired from it all, so I declared gentlemen school over for the night, to be continued in the morning.

Nobody said ‘yes, I’d love to!’

2 thoughts on “The Nicola Johnson School for Gentlemen (in-training)


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s