Sure, I've read blogs, books, and watched other parents for tips and techniques. Regardless, there isn't a day that doesn't go by that I don't regret what I have said or done and lamented on the permanent damage that may have occurred.
Lately, things seemed to have been sailing relatively smoothly when the words I never dreamed would be uttered of my middle child, were in fact said by my husband, on the phone:
"Did N tell you what happened at school today?"
Due to the nature of the alleged crime, in which he was found innocent, I can't give specifics. Let's just say the other party misunderstood something he had said and regarded it with malice.
As sick as I was over his being called in, there was more to the entire situation that disturbed me.
He avoided answering questions at school, thereby seemingly affirming his guilt. Having never gotten in trouble [at school] before, he was scared and didn't know how to handle it.
He didn't tell me. The kids all know that if they get in trouble at school, they will be in trouble at home, as well. Even though he was found innocent, he thought the mere act of being called in would cause more trouble.
He was not behaving appropriately, even though no actual crime was committed. The involved teacher trusts him explicitly. He could have and should have been making better choices at the time and perhaps the whole incident could have been avoided.
Nine years of schooling and drilling expectations, I had to go back and re-address issues I thought were already set in stone. As if middle school and puberty weren't hard enough, we've had to re-visit and re-vamp:
1. If you get in trouble (regardless of guilt or innocence), I need to be told as soon as you walk in.
2. If someone asks you if you did/didn't do something, acknowledge immediately. Don't make the authority figure have to drag it out. Telling the truth upfront will always be better than hiding.
3. Remember that someone is always watching you. Set the example.
He didn't get in trouble at home. However, we did have a serious talk about expectations. Hopefully, I've been able to impart on him that he can come to me and I am not to be feared. Had this not happened? Who knows what else I may not have been told?
So, just to tally up trips to principal:
Oldest: Once, 8th grade. Guilty. Given a warning, nothing on permanent record.
Middle: Once (so far, fingers crossed) 7th grade. Not guilty. Nothing on permanent record.
Youngest: N/A But if I've learned anything this past week, it's that anything is possible, when you least expect it.