Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Boy Who Cried Wolf

On Monday evening, I twittered that Austin was grounded forever. I forgot about it until a few of you asked me why he was grounded.

Monday morning, Austin asked me if he could stay home from school because he didn't feel well. He said he felt like throwing up.

Of course, once he mentioned throwing up, I should have immediately told him, "Then you're definitely going to school! I don't want you to throw up HERE!" Instead, I asked, "Why do you want to stay home? Do you have an assignment due today or something?"

"No!" came his indignant answer.

So I told him he could stay home. "Go back to bed and rest," I said.

This was the first time this year that he's said anything like this so I didn't have any reason to think he was faking it just to get a day off. And in all honesty, I'm not against giving the kids an unofficial day off now and then just because they're tired and need a "mental health day".

Austin went back to bed and got up around lunchtime. His stomachache seemed to have magically disappeared. I asked him one more time, "Are you sure you didn't want to stay home because you have an assignment that's due today?"

"Nope," he answered again.

The day went on; he hung out and vegged; I did some writing. When Savannah got out of school, she asked me, "Do you know why Austin wanted to stay home today?"

Alarm bells went off.

"He told me he had an assignment due today and he hadn't done it," Savannah continued.

"Oh he did, did he?"

I approached Austin and said, "I'll ask you one more time. And think very carefully about your answer. Do you have any assignments due today?"

Austin faltered a bit, but once more, said, "No".

I lost it. "I happen to know that you DO have an assignment due! Not only did you blow it off all weekend, but you lied to me about it THREE times! And then, when you got out of going to school, did you take advantage of your time and complete the assignment today? Noooo! Go to your room NOW!"

I took a few minutes to pick my middle kids up from school and to cool off a bit.

I thought about grounding him until he turned 21, but decided that wasn't enough time. I concluded that eternity would probably be sufficient.

I informed him that since TV, video games, and computer had taken up the time he should have spent working on his project, I was taking those things away from him for 2 weeks. I believe I'll also give him a paper to write on the subject of lying and how it ruins trust and thus relationships. He'll have plenty of time to work on it since he'll be sitting in his room doing nothing more than homework and reading for the next 2 weeks.

It makes me crazy that the kid is so smart, but just couldn't care less about school and grades. He reminds me of someone.... (Umm, sorry again for making you guys nuts, Mom and Dad.)

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27 comments:

MaBunny said...

/agreed, he should get plenty of time to write about the evils of lying:)
Have a great thanksgiving Dawn!

Rachel Teran said...

Love the idea about having him write a paper on lying. Love love love.

Travel_with_a_purpose said...

It'll be OK Dawn. My oldest didn't like school work either. His last semester in college, he discovered he had to have a 2.0 in his MAJOR to graduate...and barely made it. Today, at 30, he's a fine productive member of society -- someone you'd be proud to call your son.

Elleah said...

I think it's a great idea to make him write a paper on lying and its effects. My husband's dad made my husband write a paper on smoking and lung cancer when he tried smoking at the age of 14 and he never tried it again after that!

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

Good plan.

One of my favorite books is John Rosemond's "Ending the Homework Hassle." It is full of good ideas for making sure the homework monkey is on the kid's back and not ours. He's funny, too.

Anonymous said...

How interesting, it must be contagious. The same thing happened here last week, except while he was home sick (monday)his teacher sent me an e-mail to remind him to bring his book project the next day to school which was due the previous Thursday. When asked about it he fessed up and said he was afraid I wouldn't let him go to a party he had over the weekend, if he told me on Friday. I was so mad I couldn't even speak. He is also living without anything fun! I swear this is the hardest part about parenting. How do you get a kid to understand the whole trust thing? I'm considering telling him that I will pick him up from school several days in a row and just tell him, Opps! I forgot (we only live a few blocks)Think he will trust me the next time I say it? Too harsh? I'm at a loss.

Anonymous said...

Oh Dawn been there with oldest son. Hang in they grow up get married and have kids of their own and boy pay back is great.

Regina said...

OMG, I feel terrible for you. I have a son who used to do the exact same thing. He's 21 now, and in his fourth year trying to get his associates degree. Two semesters ago he made the Dean's list; this past semester he got an incomplete in three out of five courses. He's just not interested in school, although he's very smart and always tested well on stadardized testing. Very frustrating. It makes me think he's never going to move out. Good luck with Austin. I think you're going to need it, although I pray that you don't!

Tracy said...

I remember pulling this one time (and only ONE time) with my Mom. I was 12, and when she found out I faked, she took me to school and held my hand for one full week taking me to my Homeroom. She also wrote a note to the nurse telling her I liked to fake people out so I was not allowed to come home sick unless I was either bleeding to death or puking my guts out.
Good luck, I hope the next 2 weeks do the trick.

Feisty Irish Wench said...

Next time, call the school in front of him and ask the teacher what assignment is due that he's looking to skip out on turning in today. Apparently he forgot this detail- that he eventually has to return to school, and the project will still be due anyway. Next time, go with your instincts and send him anyway.

Jenn said...

I make my kids write essays when they misbehave, lie, etc. I always figured it was a more effective punishment than taking things away. The essay makes them think about what they did, why they did it, consequences, that kind of thing. I usually make it at least a page long too. Depending on the severity determines how long the paper is.

The important thing, IMO, is to follow through. It is easy to get caught up in the day or in all the homework and your "assignment" gets lost in the shuffle.

Good luck!

andij1967 said...

I can tolerate just about anything from my daughter, but when she lies to me, I completely come undone. I don't care WHAT the situation, DO NOT lie to me and we'll be cool. I love that you sort of suspected all along... your Mom Radar is pretty in tune!

noexcuses said...

Wow! A ton of good ideas here! We just went through this for about two weeks, except they really did have some kind of bug. One had red blotches all over her legs and they hurt to the touch. The other had a screaming red throat...from post-nasal drip. Neither had fevers! I caved! They almost got everything made up before Turkey day. I agree with the others...go with your gut!

Lesley said...

Actually I think you were a little harsh on him.
Now I dont excuse lying but ask yourself if you have never fibbed to get out of a tricky situation?
He may have felt sick due to worry about the assignment and being the age he is now, felt it too babyish to ask for your help.

Talk to him about the incident and see what he has to say. His hormones are rampaging around his body right now, and as you know, he is very good with the little ones. He might just want some attention from you - well those are my thoughts.

Michelle said...

Ahhh, lovely. I'm glad I'm not the only one who gives writing assignments for misbehaviors. Mister Man wrote a sorry letter to his daycare/kindergarten teacher for the misbehavior in class recently. Yeah... that's a blog post in the making ;)

Good luck with Austin!

Keeley said...

DUDE, the amount of times my children did this drove me bananas. I can't believe I was so dang slow I didn't pick up on it for ages.

However, they did it so often that now my trust is completely eroded to the point that unless they are actually throwing up AND I SEE IT (Yes, I tell them if they throw up, flush it, THEN tell me it doesn't count) they still have to do the schoolwork. (We homeschool)

When I say "They", I mean "My 13 year-old son".

Anonymous said...

Wow, 2 weeks--are you going to be able to enforce that? I guess I'm used to 4- and 7-minute time-outs!

Diana said...

My son was grounded from the age of 13 until..... well, let's just say I understood why some animals eat their young! I was so frustrated because he is so smart and talented, and could care less about applying any of that to life!

He's 21 now, finally (with my help) got a good job. He'll probably live at home forever (at least, that's what HE says).

It does get better.

Anonymous said...

I have to admit I am so glad to hear what your punishment for him is. I would have done the same punishment and I think a lot of my friends (and my crazy mother-out-law) would have thought I was way too hard on him. We have punished our oldest (5th grade) in this exact manner for this exact amount of time before but I LOVE your idea of having him write an additional paper on lying and how it ruins trust. Kudos to you, Dawn!!! :)

Amy Flippin Blankenship

Carrie said...

Happy Thanksgiving Dawn =) So, did you end up having Austin write the paper? Here I thought I was the only "mean mom" that did that. I figured that if I had my daughter write a 500 page paper about what lying does to trust and relationships, and occasionally she still needs a "refresher" assignment =)

Sila Lumenn said...

Let us know how the writing assignment goes. If it works for you, I might have to try it myself.

nannyneedsanap said...

Sorry, I kind of agree with Lesley.I am 22 now, and think I turned out ok. I hated school more than anyone, and remember it like it was yesterday. Being 13 is HORRIBLE and I wouldn't do it again for anything in the world. You have school, peer pressure, siblings, parents, and hormones! While he does need some sort of punishment, having a good talk with him will go a long way too. If one of my parents had ever just told me "I know what you're going through" it would have meant so much.

Marit in Idaho said...

Dawn, Dawn, Dawn. The day will come when he apologizes to you for being such a kid, and treating you this way. Until then, though you want your "children to rise up and call you blessed," just be grateful they don't rise up in mutiny.

I feel for you. I had two gifted kids who didn't do their work. They were not challenged enough and bored so they quickly got out of the learning habit with school. So grades didn't mean much. They wanted to be challenged and entertained so they sought to do that. Ouch. Grades were terrible. Pranks and activities at home, just as bad. But, they have since outgrown it a lot! And they are only part way into high school. It is amazing what an awakening happened to my child with a good bribe. She learned in one semester that straight A='s are possible if you show up most days, do your homework, turn it in, and pay attention. Usually it was the turning it in that was a problem. And you can't ground them without grounding from books. Because my kids read 2,000 pages a week. And still have time to use 200 minutes a week on their cell phones! AUGH! Teens!

Anonymous said...

Lesley, do you have any kids?

Do you know what it is to feed them, change their diapers, care for them, love them more than anything in the world, know them better than they know themselves (also known as mommy radar) and have them lie to you?

I think you are so off base here, not because Dawn is unkind, but because if she doesn't discipline him on something now he will think he can get away with it later and may cause other problems. TRUST me on this. As former foster parents who had teens with drug habits we saw kids who could charm their way out of every situation. But they are going to be very unhappy in prison some day, despite their great personality, brains and good looks if we don't love them enough to show consequences for their actions.

Don't do it with anger. Do it firmly, and let them see why it has to be. Let the consequence be in correlation to the crime - lost time on toys, lose toys. Didn't do homework, now has home work and homework to do. Oh Yeah, Dawn, you did JUST RIGHT on this one! Austin is lucky to have you fighting in his corner. Now, give him a hug, and keep him grounded. Don't give in to the whining and there won't be another time.

Anonymous said...

Wow, you are brave to leave yourself open to critiques of your parenting style. Hope you didn't get too many rude comments. I have had this problem w/ my daughter too. As far as schoolwork goes, I put it back in her lap, but she knows that if there is something distracting her from schoolwork, computer, tv, etc. it goes away. W/ the lying, she got the lecture on trust being dissolved, the promise revoked "how do you like being lied to?" example, and MOST effective was not my anger but my sheer disappointment. Hang in there, this too shall pass.

Britney said...

I think it's great that you grounded him for two weeks, not because I want the kid to suffer, but because I think parents need to provide consequences to poor choices. As someone who works with teens in both a school and church setting, I get so frustrated with parents who want their kids' behavior to change, but don't do anything to modify their behavior. It's so refreshing to hear about parents who are actually involved in their kids' lives and who care enough to teach them the difficult lesson that actions have consequences.

kirkygirl said...

'Atta girl Dawn! I'm 21 and boy oh boy did I learn the hard way not to lie to my parents too. Now every time I mess up, I 'fess up. "Tell the truth, there's less to remember".
Austin will be juuuust fine. He's a big boy, he needs to take his medicine. Even if he isn't sick. :P But I have to agree with one of the other posters on here, it's really difficult to ban kids from reading for pleasure.
And you are the mom here, not me. So if it works for you, alright, cool. Happy to see you lambasting them for screwing up. :) Shows you care.

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