Friday, February 22, 2008

Lesson #3 in Bad Parenting (Guilt Edition)

The Boy has a behavior chart that we see on a daily basis and must sign and turn back in. The teacher uses a color code to tell us how he's been that day.

Green means he's had a good day.

Yellow means he's gotten several warnings that day and the teacher finally had enough and told him to turn his card. For this, he gets 6 minutes in the corner when he gets home. (Six years old, six minutes.)

Blue means he's been rambunctious and didn't learn the first card-turn and now loses his recess time at school, and is grounded to his room when he gets home for the evening. No toys.

Red means that he's been a total hellion and hasn't listened, hasn't done his work and loses recess time, goes to the principal's office and will be grounded to his room without toys until he brings us home 5 green days--preferably in a row and, depending on what he did, possibly a spanking. We don't like to spank, but when nothing else will work, we do.

Well, so far this month, he has had quite the patriotic behavior chart. He is so pale from being grounded to his room that I'm concerned about a Vitamin D deficiency. His toys are covered in dust and we've spanked him so much that I'm afraid he's building up a callous on his butt.

In complete frustration during the parental lecture last night,* I said, "I swear, son, if you don't straighten up and fly right in school, we'll send you to military school in Botswana!" I'm fairly certain he has no clue where Botswana is, but he knew it was far away because he teared up and asked, "Can I bring a picture of you with me?"

/Mom dies of guilt/

Yeah, I know, the kid is good.

(The Girl, on the other hand, who is right now flunking all but one of her core subjects, is in serious jeopardy of being sent to military school in Siberia. I hear it's just lovely
there in spring.)

*and when I was a kid, those were enough. I'd've rather been beaten than listen to my parents go on and on and on and on ad infinitum.


Phydeaux said...

Ya know, we have our very own gulags here in Murrika now. Wouldn't even have to pay airfare for the little devi.... errr, darlings.

Anonymous said...

LOL. Somewhere very hot, cold or otherwise unpleasant? Death Valley perhaps?

Brave Sir Robin said...

quite the patriotic behavior chart

err, damn. . . sorry to hear that.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, thanks Robin. No sympathy from a fellow parent? No advice for what to do with the bodies?

Fine, be like that!

Brave Sir Robin said...

No sympathy from a fellow parent? No advice for what to do with the bodies?

Well, other than #3 son throwing tantrums when he was about 2-4, I was blessed with fairly obedient children.

While they are lazier than I would prefer, school behavior has never been an issue.

I am loathe to give parental advice, but you have to find a consequence that is important to the child. That can be difficult with a willful child.

I wish I could tell you how we broke #3 son from his tantrums, but in truth he probably just outgrew them.

The one thing I will say is this:
Don't be afraid of doing something unpopular.

Case in point -

A few years ago, right after the divorce, money was pretty tight for a while. #3 son was president of the Young Astronauts club at his school (5th grade). At the end of each year, the club took an overnight trip to NASA. There was a significant cost involved, however, there were ample fund-raisers throughout the year that would enable students to offset that cost. ie - show up and work the concession stand, sell raffle tickets, car washes, etc.... All year long I kept telling him, I would pay the difference, as long as he made an effort. He didn't. The truth is, I could have paid the whole thing. It would have been a bit of a squeeze, but it wasn't going to make us live on ramen for 2 weeks, or anything like that.

I didn't let him go, because he made no effort. he cried, (he never does). He was shocked that I really wouldn't let him go. I was shocked that I didn't give in. Trust me, I probably cried more than he did. As a relatively new single parent, I was terrified that it would drive him to his mother and against me. Of course it didn't. For the first time in his life, he understood what I had been telling him about consequences.

He didn't stop loving me, and trust me, now - When I tell him you must do x before I'll let you do y, he believe me.

The biggest mistake I see, is parents who say they'll do (fill in the blank) if child doesn't do (fill in the blank)and then doesn't follow up. It is so tempting to give in. Actions have consequences no matter what age you are. The sooner a child truly understands that concept, the better it will be. Think of how many adults you know who never learned that lesson.

ok - I'm done hi-jacking your comment thread.

Anonymous said...

LOL, no hijacking involved. Both of my children are MY children and what isn't my fault is worse on the stubbornness front. They are both willful children who sprang forth from willful parents. (My father thinks this is hysterical, btw.) Granted, school behavior wasn't a problem for me, but Keith? Was a total hellion. I made sure to make the persons responsible for my unhappiness miserable, not some poor innocent teacher. Keith made everybody miserable.
Now that The Girl has a cell phone and has had it surgically implanted upon her ear I swear, that seems to be the key for her. The Boy is a tougher nut. We've taken everything away from him and nothing seems to bother him a bit. We may have to wait for him to get a car. (c;

Anonymous said...

Oh, and popularity has never been a problem. If my children don't tell me that I'm mean and they hate me at least once a month, I'm not doing something right. (c;

Brave Sir Robin said...

The Girl has a cell phone and has had it surgically implanted upon her ear I swear, that seems to be the key for her.



I don't even know the name of the song #3 son uses as his ringtone, but it is permanently embedded in my ear!!