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?