Tuesday, February 14, 2012

That Awkward Moment When You Get A Call From The Principal's Office

Today, my home phone rang and before I could get to it to answer, the machine picked up. I looked at the caller ID and saw that it was from our son's school (Zachary, our youngest, he's in 5th grade). I immediately hear his counselor on the other end of the machine, leaving a message that she needs to talk to me about Zachary. From her tone, I could deduce that it wasn't an emergency. But, I got the sinking feeling that he probably did something bad at school. Oh great! While I'm trying to mentally prepare myself to return her call, my cell phone rings (which happened to be in my hand). It's the school calling.

Dreadfully, I answered the phone in my most chipper voice. It's the counselor and I figure I'm about to find out what kind of shenanigans my boy has been up to. She proceeds to tell me that he and another boy were talking very inappropriately during computer lab yesterday. She never really came out and told me exactly what they were saying. Only that it involved "lady parts" and that it wasn't nice at all. And that it apparently offended some of the other kids who happened to overhear. Oh great!

I'm now hanging my head in shame. Trying to maintain my chipper voice.

My kids are not perfect by any means. But, for the most part, they just do not get into trouble at school. Of all my kids, Zachary is probably the most talkative and mischievous. He can be a little rambunctious and loud. We've had issues recently with him saying bad things (i.e. "shut up" or "freakin" or "that sucks"). So, he has been admonished at home several times for this kind of thing.

While I listen to the counselor tell me the details of his punishment (he has to write an apology letter to the computer teacher and the kids who were "offended" and have study hall instead of recess for two weeks) I'm trying to tell myself that he's just a boy being a boy and it's not a big deal. But, actually, I'm mortified. I'm embarrassed to even have to have this conversation with his counselor (who I've known for years because she taught my other two boys when they were in 4th grade). I'm mad that he acted in this way when I know he's been taught better. I feel like I'm the one being scolded by the counselor and I feel about two feet tall. She wasn't rude or unkind, but still I feel ashamed that my child has acted in an ugly way that others found disturbing.

When the phone call ends, I immediately start the blame game....blaming myself. If only I didn't let him play so many video games, if only we went to church on a regular basis, if only I didn't let him spend so much time with the older boys, if only I wasn't so lenient with him because he's our baby, if...if...if... I'm just so mad at him and also at myself because I feel like I should've somehow done better.

Anyway, we decided that his punishment at home had to be pretty severe. When he came home from school, I shamed him quite a bit and let him know how disappointed we were with his behavior. He genuinely started crying and I felt bad (for just a second) because I know he was truly ashamed of himself. (By the way, my husband was working a 24 hour shift at the firehouse so we discussed this on the phone, but at home, I'm flying solo). After talking with him about the incident and letting him know our expectations, I laid down the sanctions he would have to face for his offense:

1) No video games or computer for one month
2) No fun outings or friends over for one month
3) Strict lights out bedtime at 9:00 pm for one month
4) Extra chores around the house
5) Extra study time at home (i.e. reviewing multiplication tables, reading, etc.)
6) Any deviation from the above punishments extend them for another month

Thanks for listening to me vent; I would love to hear your thoughts. Have you ever had times when your kids misbehaved at school? Were you able to take it in stride or did it leave you feeling as mortified as I'm feeling?



Paula Parrish said...

Hello Kari,
Being a Mom of four children, I know how it feels to be so embarrassed by my child’s behavior. In my opinion you handled the situation perfectly. Way to go Mom!
Take Care :) Paula