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Mother Mercy

I have driven a gazillion miles today. And there is more to go. T.R. got all the way to school before realizing that the very important papers he kept out of his backpack so he could hold them in his hot little hands were not, in fact, in his hands, but on the dining room table.

I spent a few seconds on the moral dilemma thus posed. Do I let him suffer the consequences of his action, or do I bail him out?

I bailed him out for several reasons. The first and most important was this: he’s already in a heap of consequences and if they get worse I want him to know, to the bottom of his soul, that the situation is entirely the result of his own actions. I will not be taking any blame. I am willing to let him fail, absolutely, but not if he’s going to attribute the failure to factors outside his control. No one wins in that scenario.

Second, I haven’t brought him something forgotten since he was in fourth grade. In other words, he hasn’t needed bailing out like this in a good long time. He has just used his chance for the next couple years.

Third, he already had a rough morning full of consequences. On Tuesdays, as I have mentioned before, he is supposed to email his core teachers his grades from the online system and check in with them. While I don’t love the assignment, I do think he has to do it. T. is not with me on Tuesdays, so I asked him in passing yesterday whether he had done it or not. Guess what? Not. I reminded him twice more last night to do it. This morning he said, “Oh #$%^, I forgot.” It took him long enough to look up the grades, remember his email password, and compose the message that he was hard-pressed to get out the door on time.

I think it was the right decision, even though it pissed me off to have to do all that driving. I reserve the right to change my mind if he’s in a bad mood when I pick him up, though.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
happy_potterer
Oct. 22nd, 2009 10:01 pm (UTC)
There's an old Jewish story about the importance of justice being tempered with mercy. I think letting him know your three reasons turns this from a case of rescuing him from consequences to being a compassionate mom helping him out.

This, though, sounds like a quagmire:

not if he’s going to attribute the failure to factors outside his control

I mean, isn't he always? The question is, were they outside of his control. If they weren't, and you calmly refuse to take the blame, then he knows deep down that it's his own damn fault, no matter how much he may claim it's the teacher or you or the slow network connection.

BTW, I'm having a blast being a troll.
jan_can_too
Oct. 22nd, 2009 11:31 pm (UTC)
I told him reason 2. I will save reason 1 for an appropriate time. Reason 3 is best left unsaid, since it would just spin him back into the yuck we had this morning.

And I LOVE the trollishness!!!!!! Tallulah might be answering back this weekend!
happy_potterer
Oct. 23rd, 2009 12:01 am (UTC)
Just let her try.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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