Our son said something bad on Tuesday. Really bad. In fact, it was so bad it landed him in the principal's office, and later it landed him in his room – for a week.
Just saying bad words wouldn't normally warrant a strict punishment, I will admit, but in this particular case, exactly what he said was pretty shocking. In fact, when the principal called me, she put him on the phone to tell me what he had done, and I was so shocked when he told me (a little too matter-of-factly), I had him repeat it –– probably not my wisest move, since the principal was in the background.
The thing is, he doesn't even know what he said. He doesn't understand what his words meant, thankfully, and I know he didn't hear those words –– phrases, actually –– at home. He told me from whom he had heard them, and I am not completely surprised. But I am surprised he repeated them...and got caught. He knows better. And I wasn't happy.
(He's in third grade; I would have hoped he would have been much older before he heard language like that, but that's a topic for another day.)
Chad and I decided he would have three punishments, hoping something would sink in:
- He would write a sentence, "I will not say bad words," 50 times. He had that done in less than 30 minutes, I'd say.
- He would spend a week in his room during what would normally otherwise be "free" time. He would not play outside, watch TV or movies or play video games. We honestly thought this would be the biggest punishment for him, but it turns out #3 was much more painful for him.
- He would not be allowed to go to Chuck E. Cheese today, when our daughter was invited to a birthday party. (He is about the same age as our daughter's friend's brother, so he was really looking forward to this.)
Today was Day 3 of his punishment, and it's the first time he seems to really realize what being "grounded" means (or at least really feel the effect of being grounded). He was a total wreck not being allowed to go to CEC. So much so, that he was trying to "make me a deal" before our daughter and I left for the party. He offered to add a day onto the end of his grounding if we let him go tonight. When I said no, he bawled his eyes out. He cried later, too, apparently, when we were gone.
When our daughter and I got home from the party, he gave me this note:
Chad thought I would be mad, but I wasn't at all. I am just glad he's talking to me, even if it's through frustrated words on a note like this. In fact, I love it.
I do communications for a business, but I'll be the first to admit I'm not always great about communication with the kids. I get frustrated. I get tired of repeating myself 85 times before they hear me, much less do what I ask them to do. And I am amazed at how our son can make some bad choices sometimes in the interest of being seen as "cool" with his friends, despite what we teach him at home. But every night, when I tuck him in, we talk about his day. Sometimes he doesn't say much. Other times, he opens up to me. I am incredibly thankful for those little talks every night, even when they only last a minute or two. Communication...it's a good thing.
And I guess in some way, he feels like he can be honest with me. So when the words are hard to say out loud, I'll take a hand-written note from my 8-year-old any day.
(And for that matter, I'll take a little hand-drawn sad face from our younger daughter, too. I'll have to share one of those in another post.)
Love you, Bud.