Wednesday, February 3, 2010

So, Friday afternoon the phone rings

Mrs. Lunt, this is ******, the warden principal over here at the Jr. High.”

Can I please tell you that talking to the principal---any principal for any reason---gives me anxiety (please don’t start with that, “EVERYTHING gives you anxiety” bit. So what?!)?

“I’m calling about Nate,” (oh this is so SHOCKING considering recent events) “his 6th hour teacher noticed that Nate’s PAR book had been altered, so he confiscated it. Unfortunately this is considered forgery and we have to punish him.” Then she says, “I’m sure it won’t make you feel better, but he has done a very skillful job of it, which is why he didn’t get caught sooner. It's actually kind of impressive.” Um, no, it doesn’t make me feel ANY better at all, and is you is or is you ain’t the principal; shouldn’t you be ANGRY about this complete disregard for the rules? Who's running this circus anyway?

The students have these agendas that the teachers stamp each period to show that they were in class, on time, with their homework. No stamp, or the wrong kind of stamp lands you in detention. Our son has been cutting out old stamps and gluing them where new stamps should be so he wouldn’t have to stay after school. This has been going on for at least a month, possibly longer. Being a good counterfeiter is apparently extremely time consuming leaving him no time to DO HIS HOMEWORK. Naturally NONE of this would have happened at all if his teachers weren’t so stupid and if I had not suggested that he might be grounded if he kept having to stay after because he was missing his homework.

He has to serve 2 days of “In-School Suspension”, which frankly doesn’t sound all that horrible to me (it’s basically 2 days of isolation) and his father and I have to decide if there will be further flogging at home.

Here’s the thing, I’m all for natural consequences. You leave your bike out, it gets stolen. You play with fire, you singe your eyebrows. You smoke, you get cancer. I read this book once, I can’t remember the author, but he said, if your kids don’t want to do their homework don’t make them. If they don’t get up in the morning, fine, they miss school. If they get kicked out, so be it. Natural consequence. Um, yeah, that guy’s an idiot, and if he has kids they’re probably in prison. Or making rap albums (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

Myself, I don’t buy it, not when the natural consequence is ignorance and the possibility that my grandchildren will have to live in a refrigerator box someday because their father didn’t like his English teacher. But I really don’t know what to do. When I told him there may be further consequences at home because detention alone wasn’t convincing him to do his homework, he didn’t come to his senses and do his homework, he turned to a life of crime. I ask you, what is a mother to do? And just in case you don't know me well enough to guess, "nothing" is not an option. I prefer a consequence that leaves us on speaking terms, but it's not a requirement. Maybe he should go back to working for his uncle until 1 o'clock in the morning.

He’s a good kid, which I know, after all this sounds silly, but it’s true. He’s kind and hard working (as long as there are no teachers involved), he saves his money (which is good, because he might need it for bail some day), he doesn’t talk back (usually), really, over all he’s pretty okay, as teenagers go. But this is starting to feel like a power struggle. I’ve heard parents say “If we can just get him/her to graduation, I’ll be happy.” Sorry, that’s not good enough for me. Our kids don’t have to be super scholars, but I can’t deal with just barely eeking by either.

Before she hung up the principal apologized to me. She told me she hates making these kinds of calls (which makes me wonder about her career choice). Then she said “You know, they just get a little screwy at this age.”

That’s a bit of an understatement if you ask me.


Karen said...

Oh boy this brings back memories. My sweet first born was also a MASTER at PAR Book Altering. I'll never forget that phone call. Apparently the "clip art" was only noticed when a teacher accidentally ran her soft little finger across the point where the crime had been committed. It wasn't bad enough that he perfected it himself, but he passed down this awesome knowledge to his ex-perfect little sister. The horror of it all! It was our first "incident", and we were in an uproar. We figured that he was most definitely doing drugs if he was altering. So we marched him right down to his locker and made him open it right there in front of us so that we could begin our detailed investigation (as we were determined to be those smart & informed kind of parents). The locker opened, and there on the back wall staring at us in all of our judgment ... was a picture of Christ. There were no drugs, there was not one other thing that we could find wrong (except that he had long hair) ... he was just a skilled alterer. The funny part is that just last week we were talking to our (now 22 year old) upstanding young man and he said that the ISS was the WORST! He said that they weren't allowed to speak and he was known as #6 all week long. I think he learned his lesson, and Nate will too. Ahhhhh memories.

Keenie Beanie said...

So, since I'm not a mom, perhaps I'm overstepping boundaries here, but a good friend had a problem with his teenage son and after a few years of power struggles which didn't improve his performance at school but was damaging their parent/child relationship, he decided to go with the hands off approach. The son flunked out of school, got his GED, enlisted in the military and has now shaped up into a fine upstanding adult. Probably not the path any parent would choose for their child, but we all have to find our own way in life... just saying.

Fingers crossed that suspension does trick!