I read a story in the paper this morning about a mother in Florida who, fed up with her 15-year-old son’s disinterest in school, took a drastic measure to get his attention. She placed the kid on a busy street corner with a sandwich board over his head that said: “I have a 1.22 GPA…honk if you think I need an education.”
While some people applauded her last-ditch effort to set the kid on the straight and narrow, others called Child Protective Services to report her abuse of the young man.
I have to tell you, when I read the article, I had to chuckle, because as the mother of two kids, I, too, have looked for creative ways to get their attention.
Don’t get me wrong, my kids do great in school, particularly child #1, who is now looking at colleges and knows that she has to keep her grades up if she has any chance of going to some of the more competitive colleges in the country. But, as many of the moms on this blog will attest, when your kids get older, your issues with them get more complicated and it takes every last ounce of energy you have to stick to your guns and to keep them moving in the right direction. It is very easy to just give up and let them do what they want, but we all know what happens when we let the inmates run the asylum.
It’s anarchy, I tell you.
It is true what they say: “little children, little problems; big children, big problems.” I think all of us, at some point when our children are small, look at someone else’s parenting style and think “I would never do it that way.” Really? Wait until you get there. I remember when child #1 was a baby and I thought I would never lose my temper with her, raise my voice to her, or punish her. Then came the terrible twos, followed by the temper-tantrum threes, and the feisty fours. Let’s not get started on five through seven. You find yourself doing things you never imagined. For instance, child lays down on floor of the bank and refuses to move; there are eight people behind you on line. What do you do? Leave her there or laugh in embarrassment as you pick her up by the scruff of the neck like a mother cat, dragging her out kicking and screaming? Either way, she’s going into therapy first chance she gets (and her health insurance allows for free visits) so you’re doomed. My plan of attack was always to pretend I didn’t notice what was happening or that I didn’t know her, because you know that there is someone behind you tut-tutting about your parenting skills. Usually, they don’t have kids, or their kids are older than you and they have forgotten what it is like to confront a hungry toddler who acts like they are a protester during the Vietnam era. (You know what I mean…you go to pick them up and they go slack. It’s an effective protest technique whether you weigh thirty-two pounds or a hundred and thirty-two pounds.)
The problems, discussions, and issues only get more complicated as the kids get older. Apparently, as well, “EVERYONE else’s parents are letting them do it.” Like I believe that one. Yes, many parents in our small village are more permissive than we are…ok, every set of parents in our small village is more permissive than we are…but that doesn’t mean that in our middle-age we are going to succumb to peer pressure. We make decisions based on what is right for a particular child at a particular time. And sometimes that means that a particular child is not doing what other children are doing. Them’s the breaks, as they say.
But back to the lady in Florida. Judge lest you yourself be judged. She’s got a 15-year-old who won’t do his homework, won’t go to school, and probably has a one-way ticket to a life of heartache and trouble if this behavior continues. I have to say, not being in her shoes, I’m not sure what I would do, but if the sandwich board of embarrassment were my last resort, I might resort to it.
What do you think, Stiletto faithful?