Remember the post I wrote about Walter being grounded for the summer and how horrible I felt about it? no, really, I felt horrible. When I threw down, I was assuming that the fact that I had a pretty damned near flawless history of follow through backing my bluff would be enough for the boy to turn his freaking work in... but then it wasn't and he didn't turn his freaking work in and ended up with a D. Grounding him for 6 week periods to where he will sit his butt down and do his work, I have no problem with that. none. boy knew, boy chose for himself. Same with summer but summer isn't just 6 weeks worth of school nights, summer is a magical time that lasts an eternity. Well, maybe not an eternity, but closer to an eternity than an average of 3 hours/day, 5 days/week.
So, I felt horrible. I knew the punishment was extreme but I couldn't take it back. You say what you mean and you do what you say. always. That's what makes you trustworthy. If they can't trust you to keep you word... see? There's the problem. I need my kids to be able to trust me. always. I need them to know that I don't back down. ever.
There was a comment left on that post...
"...is there summer school in your area? Could he earn freedom for part of the summer by doing the course in summer school? The work still has to be done, he still has consequences, but a chance to salvage some of his summer. ..."
Now, first of all... If summer school was a good idea, a viable option for any of these heathens, I would have signed them up without a second thought. But it's not.
and second... No. That's not what I said. I have to do what I said. I said no summer.
...but then... I think... they also need to know I am fair. and this is not fair. This comment weighed on my mind making me feel that there was something there that I could do to right a wrong. Walter did wrong. Walter knew the deal, Walter made a decision... a stupid decision, yes... but there are other things I need to take into consideration. Like the fact that Walter is a damned good boy. He hasn't been banned from the mall for either stealing or breaking into employee-only areas to make out with a girl, he hasn't vandalized any apartments or set a park on fire, he hasn't threatened other students with sharp objects on school property, he's sober, he hasn't stolen his parents' car, he's not laying in streets playing chicken with cars, he's not running away from home, he's not trying to break into cars, not stealing from the gas station, he hasn't even had a detention (ever) much less been suspended or expelled, he's not getting into fist fights or knocking books out of other kids' hands, he hasn't been brought home by the police and the police haven't shown up looking for him... he got a D in science. based on what I know from other boys his age in this area (including his brothers)... he is doing well enough that an entire summer for something like a D is just.... absurd!
but I can't go back on my word. So I'm stuck.
This morning, I'm going around doing my thing, getting ready for story time and it hits me. PERFECT!!!
"Walter," I say, "what would you think of joining the summer reading club?" Now, the answer doesn't surprise me because he's been telling me no since I first mentioned it. "But, what if you could have your freedom this summer?" "What?" Now I have his attention. It may not be science but reading is definitely not a preferred activity and it is a skill that I feel is important to nurture and it falls right in line with the transgression.
"I want you to join the summer reading club. I want your Wednesdays, and I want your nights. What do you think?"
"YES!!!! Yes, please, can you sign me up?" Yes. Yes, I can. I love you, too, buddy.