Laying Down the Law(s)

13 Oct

I got an email from my 8 year old’s teacher yesterday afternoon; she’d been caught passing a note to a friend. The teacher specified that the note “went so far as to suggest they meet in the bathroom.” Duhn duhn duhnnn.

While this offense seemed relatively minor, it’s one of the few times in my daughter’s school career that I’ve heard about her behavior from a teacher, and as such it felt like a good opportunity to try to nip badness in the bud. I prepped myself for a talk when she got off the school bus; I expected her to be embarrassed and in full defensive-finger-pointing mode. I counseled myself to be firm, but not too serious or angry, and give her a chance to tell her side of the story before, you know, telling her off.

Also, since her behavior is generally worse at home than it is at school, and this school infraction came after two low-key home days, I thought I might ask her to please get her badness out at home as per usual so I could be the one writing about her instead of her teacher.

The bus pulled up. My daughter stepped off to meet me, her eyes downcast, face solemn. I arranged my features to look dignified and parenty.

“I got an email from your teacher,” I said.

“I know,” she said. “She let me read it before she sent it to you.”

“Oh. Well. We should talk about it.”

“OK. Can we do it at the house and not in front of all these kids at the bus stop?”

“Oh. Well. Sure.”

We walked home in silence, my five year old between us whipping his head back and forth scanning our faces like he was watching a ping pong match.

I got everyone set up with some granola bars and cider and we settled around the dining room table.

Me: “Why don’t you tell me what happened?”

Her: “Well, you know how I love to talk. So, I’d already gotten in trouble for talking? So, I thought that instead of talking more I would just write what I wanted to say to my friend down on a note.”

Me (grudgingly admiring this logic): “Mmhmm.”

Her: “And then the thing I wanted to say was there’s this place in the bathroom on the bathroom wall where someone wrote that Becky loves Sam or something except I can’t read the first name very well and I wanted my friend to look at it, too, and tell me what she thought it said.”

Me: “I see.”

Her: “So I told her to meet me in the bathroom only the other time I passed a note to her I had just asked her a yes or no question so all she had to do was nod her head yes so we didn’t get caught that time and really that was probably a better idea than writing something she had to write back to because when she passed the note back to me that’s when we got caught.”

Me: “Ah ha.”

Her: “So then we were both, like, really upset that the teacher was mad at us so we wrote her an apology letter saying it was really bad that we had disrupted the class, even though we really didn’t disrupt it? Because no one even saw the note being passed or anything? But anyway, we wrote a letter saying we had learned our lesson and we’d never participate in such disruptions in class again and we were very sorry. And we gave it to her and she read it and said it was fine and Monday was a fresh start and she didn’t seem mad anymore and I’m still hungry can I have some crackers?”

Me: “OK, well. Sure. And. Well. Anyway, don’t do it again.”

Her: “OK, I won’t. Thanks.”

Five year old: “Mommy, I want to tell you something too!”

Me: “Yes?”

5yo: “I jumped off the swings today at recess when the teacher wasn’t looking.”

Me: “Well, that’s no good. You shouldn’t break rules even if no one is watching you.”

5yo: “Well, it isn’t a rule. She never said not to.”

Me: “Oh. Well. Uh.”

5yo: “Can I have some crackers, too?”

And thus ended another fine session of Excellent Parental Talk by me. I am so good at this parenting stuff, and I’d like to say that I really hope my example is just teaching you guys a lot of important things but not, like, intimidating you too much.

2 Responses to “Laying Down the Law(s)”

  1. Naptimewriting October 14, 2012 at 4:17 am #

    Please come to my house. When 6 gets in trouble he “can’t remember” and “maybe, I don’t know” and “I don’t know how they feel because everybody has different feelings” before he asks for crackers.

    I’m actually scared he’s a follower and prefers bullies.

    Can your daughter pass him a note? When nobody’s looking, of course.

    What do you mean apple and tree?! Sheesh.

    • amomynous2 October 14, 2012 at 4:26 am #

      I don’t think it’s ever occurred to my 8 year old that everybody has different feelings–in her world All Feelings are Her Feelings. So he’s got THAT going for him… 🙂 And yes her apple didn’t fall far from this tree, either. She’s definitely the low-hanging fruit. Or something. Anyway.

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