My son is a good kid. A very good kid. He generally does what he’s supposed to do and helps out when and where he can. I know this about him. Nobody has to tell me he’s wonderful, but they do anyway. His teachers always tell me what a great student he is, and how much they enjoy having him in class. I’ve heard the same types of comments from people with whom he’s worked. I agree.
Good kid or not, though, he’s isn’t perfect.
This week he messed up. He made a poor decision and he got caught. He didn’t harm anyone but himself, but his dad and I are disappointed. He’s disappointed in himself. He knew he made a mistake right away and he’s facing the music. I’m so glad he’s taking ownership of the situation and not trying to make excuses or blame someone else. That would have been so much harder to deal with.
Like I said, he’s a good kid. In fact, this is only the second time he’s ever gotten into any kind of trouble in school. The last time it happened was in the first grade. He’s seventeen now.
Back in first grade, the kids sat together at tables. Long story short, he and his buddy Kyle got caught writing on the table. My son swears he was trying to erase K’s writing, and frankly I tend to believe him, because he was such a rule follower. I can see how he might have thought he was fixing the problem, but his teacher didn’t see it that way.
My son and Kyle were sentenced to table washing duty. They were given a bucket of plain water and sponges and they had to wash down all the tables in the room. Then they had to do all the tables in all the other first grade rooms as well. Overkill? Maybe, but we supported his teacher, because that’s what we felt was the right thing to do. She didn’t put them in any kind of danger, and she didn’t damage their self-worth. Do you think either of those kids ever wrote on furniture again? I doubt it.
The consequence for the more recent transgression involves a loss of privileges and a work component. The nice thing about it, from my point of view, is that I have the final say in whether he’s earned back his privileges. That means even if he does all I ask, if he does it with a poor attitude it doesn’t earn him back his privileges. It’s genius, because in one short evening I’ve seen a transformation in him. He’s being pleasant, helpful, and cooperative. He’s contributed more to our household in one evening than he has in the past month. I’ve always said that he’s happier and nicer to be around when he’s “unplugged,” but it seems I forget this lesson.
He’s not playing at it either. He’s just being a good guy, the guy I get glimpses of from time to time, the guy who earns those kind remarks from teachers. I’m not glad he messed up, but on the other hand, we all do from time to time. I’m glad it wasn’t a situation where anyone was hurt or damages of some sort resulted. Most of all, I’m glad that he knows he made a mistake and he’s trying to learn from it. Growing up is hard, but in general, I think he’s doing a pretty good job of it.