Friday, August 24, 2012

Raising Jackson: School Days and Consequences

It's that time of year again.  Sharpened pencils, pristine notebooks, folders and books with not so much as a crease.  Growing up, I loved this time of year.  Still do.  But with Jack, I know the change isn't easy.  Summers are much more calm around our house.  There are less demands on his time, fewer rules, not as much responsibility.  So, when school starts, and suddenly he's got to get to bed on time, wake up on time, get homework done...well, it's not an easy transition.

Here's a question for ya:  How long does it take to get the first call from a teacher?
Answer: ummm... about 6 hours

Yep, I got a call on the very first day.  This is not to say that Jack is a bad kid.  Quite to the contrary.  He's incredibly dynamic: kind, funny, outgoing, laid back, loves to laugh, stands up for those who can't (or don't) stand up for themselves.  He just doesn't like to be told what to do.  But, hey, that's life, right?  Best get used to it, kid.  I know, I know... but it's not as simple as it sounds.  According to his teacher, Jack was "wound up" in her class that first afternoon.  Unfocused, and distracted the entire class.  For the entire hour.  Hmmm....

When Jack got home after school, I asked him how his day went.  "Fine," (oh, I can just see all you parents nodding your heads right now - you get the same answer, right?).  Jack said "fine" the day a kid pushed him on the bus.  He said "fine" the day he stepped in and protected a classmate from a group of girls who had surrounded her and were teasing and pushing her.
But, as parents, we need to ask deeper questions.  Or ask them in a different way.  I happened to ask Jack that day what he had for lunch.  "Nothing, I wasn't hungry," he shrugged at me.  Hmmm... You ate nothing? I asked.  "Well, I had a Gatorade."  Ah.  Gatorade.  So, he'd had about 14 grams of sugar on an empty stomach. No wonder he was hyper in his afternoon class.

Ask your kids: How have you taken care of yourself today?  If we can teach them to take a look back at their day, evaluate it a little, maybe they will begin to see how their actions affect them in other areas.

But I digress.  It was a rough first couple week.  Jack was quick to anger.  Couldn't find half his uniform for his first outdoor soccer game of the season.  Was so angry that he took a hockey stick to the white, six panel door of his bedroom.  Oh yes, he did.  So... I did what any good parent would do... I removed the door.  I also had his cell phone turned off.  The next day, he punched a hole in the wall of my office.  My first thought was:  I hope he's not getting sick (he used to get like this right before he came down with a flu).  The thought entered and exited my mind within seconds.  The next morning, he started throwing up.  See?  There is usually a cause for their actions.  Doesn't make them right, but it helps to know there is a reason.

Jack will get his phone back when he's purchased the materials and fixed the hole in the wall.  He's planning on doing that after school today.  This punishment is two fold:
1. It fits the crime.
And B. He'll learn how to fix drywall - a good skill for anyone to learn, I think.

Your turn: Please share, won't you? How have you learned to read into your kids' behaviors? And what lessons do you use to teach them?


  1. First, you are such a good mother...never doubt that. I am in awe of the way you parent ( a single parent at that!) your children. It's difficult for me to remember what my kids did...although your brother had his mouth washed out with soap several times and was denied electrical privileges in his room(the ultimate punishment for a computer geek)...! You, I believe, were grounded a few(!) times. I love the way you try to get to the reasons for their actions. I know it's hard, but they will remember that and grow up better for it....honest:)

  2. Boy, there are things I would do differently (ok, some things) but for the most part, I didn't have too much trouble with my kids (thank God). I tried to let natural consequences be the lesson for them, although sometimes a parent does have to step in. I didn't have the smarts like you to figure out the deeper reason... I just lost it... oh well, we do the best we can at that given time. Your mom is right - you're a good mother!

  3. MY daughter lost her ever-lovin' friggin' mind while she was in high school, and we ended up locking her out of the house. About five years later, her head emerged out of her butt. But it was a rough five years, keeping our hearts hardened. Lots of tears and lots of anguish and lots of guilt.

    We tried to read what was behind the behavior (stealing from us, disappearing EVERY weekend---ALL weekend, crashing and burning in school) but couldn't figure it out.

    Now she is the BEST mom in the world, and is quite aware of how tough it was for us. Yes, your mom is right. You are a wonderful parent--it's obvious--and your three kiddoes are lucky to have you as their mother.

  4. Looking back, I would have done many things differently and more calmly, but was so wrapped up in my own issues. I think you are a fantastic mom and you are right, there is always a reason! You are wiser than most. My mom used to blame everything on lack of sleep.
    "Leave her/him alone; he/she's just tired."

    Drinking water and encouraging a kid to move about for a few minutes are sometimes the key to settling a kid down. Have you tried massage with Jack?