Note: A name has been changed to protect the innocent. Well, at the time, the NOT so innocent.
My niece, Abby, is a student at Texas A&M University. Most Texans, and anyone familiar with college football, are aware of the many, um, unique traditions the Aggies hold dear. For example, as a junior, Abby is now allowed to say “Whoop!” Had she been caught saying, “Whoop!” as a freshman or sophomore, she would have been commanded to “push.” Push, meaning she would have to complete 213 push-ups. (213, since her graduation year is 2013.)
Yell Practice is another Aggie tradition. Abby lead yell practice during Fish Camp this summer. That is when I realized—by being non-Aggies—Joe and had violated a secret Aggie-cult-members-only-covenant.
Nightly Yell Practice
Before starting kindergarten, my daughters attended an on-site childcare center. Literally, my babies were a flight of stairs away from me. I would visit Olivia on my morning break, Hannah on my afternoon break and take turns eating lunch with them. The center was, and continues to be, top-notch. However we did have some of the typical problems. Most toddlers are either biters or a bitees. Olivia was a bitee, and the unfortunate victim of the world’s most notorious 16-month-old vampire (This was before vampires were cool and sparkly.). No matter how vigil the instructors were, Jackson found away to sink his teeth into chubby thighs, arms, and cheeks. Jackson was a pint-sized Hannibal Lecter.
Joe and I trusted the teachers and parents of this cannibal were doing all they could to remedy the situation, but their tactics were not working.
So we designed our own method.
We called it Yell Practice.
Each evening, we would sit down on the floor and have Olivia stand in front of us. We would instruct her to repeat after us, “NO, JACKSON!” She was extremely hesitant at first—knowing it was against the rules to use your “outside voice” while indoors. Since Joe and I did not want our baby loosing a finger—to be eaten later with fava beans—we assured her it was acceptable.
After several evenings of Yell Practice, she had it down to perfection.
It came from the diaphragm, deep, strong, loud and clear, “NO, JACK-SUUUN!”
I proudly sent her to school the following day.
Jackson’s goal that morning was to recreate a scene from Jaws—with Olivia cast as the innocent beach-goer. My future actress cut the scene by shouting, “NO, JAAAACK-SUUUN!” Not just once, but several times. Not only had Olivia captured the attention of everyone in her classroom, but the attention of everyone in the classroom next door as well. Legend has it that she woke a few infants three doors down.
Then I got the phone call.
The teacher was not pleased.
She did not want Olivia disrupting the class by yelling.
I did not want Jackson snacking on my daughter.
She did not want Olivia setting a bad example for the other students.
I did not want Jackson, aka Mike Tyson, biting off Olivia’s ear.
She pleaded with me to ask Olivia to stop yelling—
then sighed knowing I would not—until the biting stopped.
Eventually it did—oddly enough—not long after Yell Practice was established.
So, there the story ends.
Unlike Aggies, our Yell Practice did not involve hand signals, so maybe Abby will give us some sort of push exemption.
And it was a success.
For more on bazaar Aggie traditions: