Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The New Detention

My 12-year-old son has been spending lots of time in after-school detention lately. This is not a good thing.

In additon to seeing how we can slide through 6th grade doing as little work as possible, we are now exploring the realm of having a reserved seat in detention hall. Except that the tradtional after-school detention has gone new-age.

Instead of making children sit in a room writing things like "I will not release toads in the school hallway" 100 times, teachers now take a different approach.

Yesterday, he and a group of his friends (who were all in detention because of an incident involving throwing milk cartons) had to weed the school gardens. Since our school has a rather large agricultural curriculum associated with Michigan State University, this was no small task.

Detention now means that kids are put to work. It makes sense to me. Why have a bunch of kids with a lot of pent-up energy sit in a room when you can get some free labor out of them?

A couple of months ago, they apparently couldn't find any work for the detainees to complete. Instead, they had to listen to music. Classical music. This may not sound so bad to you or me. To a bunch of pre-teens, however, this is akin to Chinese water torture.

When they were done with the classical selections, they switched to music for preschoolers such as "The Barney Song" and the Teletubbies theme. I am surprised his ears were not bleeding when he got home.

I am hopeful that forced labor and tortuous musical therapy will have some positive affect on my son. In other words, he will hopefully straighten his behind out and not want to spend any more time listening to Raffi.

It hasn't worked yet, however. He has detention again this Thursday for taking his cell phone out in school.

I look forward to hearing what task was forced upon him this time. I hope it's cleaning the boys' bathrooms with q-tips.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sweet 16

Hard to believe, but my baby girl is turning 16 this Friday. Scary.

This is opening up a whole new world that I am not sure I am ready to face. She will now be permitted to date. She will likely have her driver's license by the end of summer. She even applied for a part-time job to supplement her babysitting income and is saving for a school trip to Europe next summer.

Perhaps now would be a good time to look into convent school enrollment.

I am happy to admit, however, that she has grown into a responsible young woman. She has never had a detention in school, maintains a 3.8 grade point average and received the highest score on the PLAN standardized test in the entire sophomore class. Shannon has already gotten recruitment letters from about 30 colleges, including Columbia, Brown, Duke, Vanderbilt and the University of Miami.

She is generally respectful and follows our rules, usually does her chores and takes care of her responisbilities without complaining, and keeps busy with school and outside activites which keep her out of trouble.

Part of it, I am sure, has to do with strict parenting and clear expectations. But Cliff and I cannot take all the credit. All we can do as parents is set them on a path and hope they will follow it.

There is a poem I have always thought describes the parenting experience perfectly:

"Little one, I wish two things:
To give you roots,
To give you wings."

The roots are established. Now the time is coming to start testing the wings. I have no doubt that as Shannon begins to venture out into the world, her options will be many, her successes great, and her wings will take her far.

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl!