Monday, September 13, 2010

Take Me Out of This Ball Game...

To help teach responsibility and minimize extra trips to the school after school for missing assignments, books, materials, etc, I established a policy of three strikes.  Basically, my children got three times each school year when Mom would turn around or get back in the car and drive back to pick up forgotten things.  After the third time, they'd win a note, "So and So forgot his homework." and face the consequences of that memo.  The system worked great for the first two kids. 

Kid number one, got to strike 4 and straightened up and got it together for the most part, occasionally taking a ding in the homework department until he figured out how to get everything done at school BEFORE coming home.  His solution, speed.  Granted, quality suffered but nothing was ever late.  Kid number two, a perfectionist, opted for bringing everything home every day to ensure she never forgot anything.  She needed a rolling back pack, a shoulder bag and a second knapsack to carry everything.  She perpetually looked like a pack mule on safari.

Enter Kid 3 and Kid 4 to the homework every day set.  Kid 3, soft spoken but crafty, figured out that while there are only three strikes per kid, there were 12 opportunities to retrieve work in reality if everyone used their three.  She  tried bringing her stuff home like her sister, but found that too taxing to her back.   So she winged it, bringing home all of it most days, but reminding others of things they forgot if she needed a turn around so that her three strikes were never called in.  Kid 4, also deal maker by nature, offered money to Kid 2 to in effect purchase her three strikes giving him an additional three times when he could relax if he forgot something.   Kid 5, a forgetful one but straight shooter, burned through her three strikes in two weeks, requiring me hold an impromptu homework spot check every afternoon so that we never leave the parking lot before verifying she has all she needs.  

As a mom, intuitively, I want to help them succeed. As a person, I do not want to spend my whole existence coddling them such that they never own responsibility, I have to help them become full fledged capable people. As an adult, I also do not want to set up children to fail by being obnoxious when they plead for actual clemency about forgetfulness, nor do I want to be taken advantage of such that they view mom as the ultimate sucker.   The top five know all these conflicting roles and play off them with a mastery that beggars description.  In other words, I may be calling strikes but as the pitcher of these ideas, I'm getting shellacked. 

As a result of all these deals being brokered and multiple people to juggle, I'm sure someone has managed to get to strike number 147 in this game leaving me the sap with the seemingly unenforceable policy of three times and you're out.  Now, we have a sixth doing homework.   To which I can only say, call in the reliever.  After six innings of play, I'm done and willing to hit the showers.   Wonder if I can get busted down to double A ball?


Roger said...

Maybe you should start them all out, like in softball with a 1-1 count, and any deal making counts as an automatic two strikes. :)

LarryD said...

The school district where we have the Sons enrolled have an on-line system, where the teachers (for the most part) list the homework assignments, some of them the entire week's worth. The grades are also posted on-line, so we can check their progress. They both know that zeroes for HW are unacceptable, and if they do happen, additional consequences abound. We've never driven them back to school - on occasion, they've called classmates who have been able to scan and email the handout assignment to them so they can get it done. If they had forgotten a text book...well, it's a mistake they're likely to never repeat.

MightyMom said...

Bench Her Coach!!!!

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