Friday, September 04, 2009

Harsh or Important Life Lesson?

This morning I walked Rehm and Charlotte to school. As we were about to enter the building I asked Rehm where his box was. He had to decorate a shoe box and fill it with items that were important to him. He immediately panicked because he did not have the box with him. He had left it at home. The first thing out of his mouth was, "you need to go home and get it for me."

Me: So what are you going to do?

Rehm: You need to go home and get it for me

Me: No, it isn't my homework. What are you going to do?

Rehm falls apart and starts crying

Me: You have two choices. You can go to class now and explain to Mr. C. why you don't have your box or you can run home and get it. You might be tardy but if you hurry you'll get back before the announcements finish.

Rehm: You go get it I can't! I'll be late for math!

Me: I have to walk Charlotte to her class. You decide what you are going to do. I'll be happy to hold your backpack and I'll come meet you and walk back with you if you want.

I walked off at this point. He is still visibly upset. I took Charlotte to her class and told her to have a great day. Not knowing what Rehm chose to do, I stuck my head in his class to see if he was there. He was not. I explained the situation to Mr. C. and told him that Rehm would probably be tardy and upset when he arrived. He thanked me for letting him know and I left.

When I got outside I didn't immediately see Rehm so I thought he had started home to get the box. I was wrong. He was still standing there stressing out and upsetting himself thinking about how horrible it was going to be to be late instead of taking action and going to get the blasted box.

Me: So what are you going to do? Are you going to class now or home to get the box?

Rehm: I can't go without it! Mr. C. told us we would get a zero if we didn't turn it in! But I'll be late to math if I go get it. Mom, you need to go get it for me!

We start walking back to our house

Me: Is it my homework?

Rehm: No

Me: Is it my grade?

Rehm: No

Me: Then why should I go get it?

Rehm has no intelligible answer.

Me: Rehm, I am not doing this to be mean or to upset you. But sometimes as your Mom it is my job to help you take responsibility for your actions.

Rehm: You didn't have to walk Charlotte to her class! She can get there by herself!

Me: It was not Charlotte's fault that you forgot your homework. I had promised Charlotte I would walk her in this morning. It would not have been fair to her if I didn't walk her in because you forgot it. That was not her problem.

We finish walking home, get the box and head back to school. Rehm is still stressed, crying, miserable and mad at me. Of course we live close enough to the school that we can hear the bells ring and the announcements. When we left the house to head back to school it was quiet. He got really upset as he thought the announcements were over and he was officially tardy. Lucky for him, it was only the Moment of Silence.

In the end he got to class before the end of announcements and was not tardy. Honestly, I was a bit disappointed by this. I really wanted him to have to go get his tardy slip and explain that he had to go home and get his forgotten homework. I would have gone with him for moral support.

My goal this morning was not to make my son hate me, but to make him take responsibility for his actions and not expect someone else to fix it for him. I felt like this was a good opportunity for an important life lesson.

Of course there was a small part of me that felt sorry for him and a little harsh. But given the fact that he had already forgotten to bring homework home from school twice this week, I knew I could not fix this one for him.

So, if it were your child what would you have done?
Jenn

PS. The two times he forgot to bring homework home, I did not go get it for him or let him go get it. The first time he had to go to school early the next morning to do it and the second time he had worked ahead and already had it done.

7 comments:

Shelly said...

You did exactly the right thing, even the commentary while you were walking home and back. I love that he had the option of walking back to get it.

I have not been as consistent with my girls, depending on the situation I'll get something, but most of the time - I won't.

3rd grade is the beginning of that level of personal responsibility. It's not easy, but it's an important lesson. Good job Jenn!

Shelly said...

You did exactly the right thing, even the commentary while you were walking home and back. I love that he had the option of walking back to get it.

I have not been as consistent with my girls, depending on the situation I'll get something, but most of the time - I won't.

3rd grade is the beginning of that level of personal responsibility. It's not easy, but it's an important lesson. Good job Jenn!

Jill said...

As a former teacher at a school where the norm is where the parents cater to the kids, I thoroughly am happy to hear how you handled this. Responsibility and accountability must be taught and reinforced early. Keep up the great work ... even though it's not popular or fun.

Wencked said...

What a great teaching moment! I hope I would have done the same thing. I have done the mini-version when we forget our blanket.

Mine always wants me to carry things for him even when he can see my hands are full.

Tuesday we were walking from his brother's daycare class to his class. Seeing my hands aren't so full, he again tells me to carry his cup. I say no, it isn't my milk, if you want to take it to class you can carry it. He walks into class just crying and upset. The teachers ask "Oh what is wrong?" I explain that he wants me to carry his milk, but it isn't my milk so I'm not. They tell him "we have to be responsible for our own things, Christian." YEAH! Score one for Mom!

Brenna and Molly said...

I'm with you 100% on this! I think part of the whole natural consequences part of things is that the child learns to pick him/herself up after the whole mess and carry on, that it wasn't the end of the world they anticipated.

I'm glad all ended well and I'm sure a good lesson was learned.

Jolene said...

Great job, Mom! I think you handled that perfectly. With any luck, it will 'stick' and you won't have to have this conversation with him again. (If he's anywhere near as stubborn as my 2 are, you will have various versions of this conversation in the coming years! LOL)

Meredith said...

You definitely did the right thing. And I know that Rehm will be so grateful later for the ways you teach him every day to be a responsible young man.

We have similar situations, except the lesson doesn't sink in at our house! Lael forgot her spelling homework the other day, but she just said "oh well, I will just bring it tomorrow." I think the consequence of a zero doesn't bother her. I wish she cared a little bit more like Rehm does!