At least he didn’t rip his sweater
I knew something was wrong when I saw the look on his face as he made his way toward the car.
Our son James usually comes out of his school grinning from ear to ear. He eagerly tells me what letter he learned for the day or what fun game he played on the playground.
But today, he had a frown. He kept looking down, and I could tell something was on his mind.
“Momma,” he said, almost scared to look me in the eye. “I got put on red today.”
The children in James’ class have a system to monitor their behavior. Their names are placed on either green, yellow or red based on their actions.
Naturally, staying on green means you were well behaved for the day and didn’t get into any trouble. Yellow means you messed up a little, but you were warned. Red means you misbehaved and you could get sent to the office for a spanking if your offense was a major one.
So, the idea of landing on “red” really had James in a concerned mood.
“Well,” I said, leading him to the car. “What did you do to get on red?”
“I was playing in the cafeteria,” he said, looking down.
He even had a note from his teacher inside his book bag. He was telling the truth. He misbehaved in the cafeteria. He had been warned in the past about acting up at lunch, but this was the first time he was put on the dreaded “red.”
I gave him a lecture on the way to daycare. I told him I was disappointed because he had managed to stay on green for so long. This was his first time on red.
James kept looking out the window. He told me he tries to be good but sometimes the other kids “make him” be bad.
It took all I had not to laugh. I had to keep my stern appearance, but it was funny to think how another person can “make” you get crazy in the cafeteria.
I told him he wouldn’t be allowed to play his video game that night, and he would have to apologize to his teacher tomorrow.
A few hours passed, and it was time for my husband Jason to pick them up from daycare. I wasn’t feeling well so I told him I would just meet them at the house.
The idea of landing on “red” was still heavy on James’ mind because it was the first thing he mentioned to Jason.
“Where’s Momma,” James asked, looking into the car.
“She was sick so she is at home,” Jason said.
“Well, she has something to tell you, and you’re not going to want to hear it,” James sighed.
To his credit, James once again admitted to his offense.
I will give him a few points for being honest. I never told on myself when I was coming up. I wouldn’t necessarily lie about getting into trouble, but I sure didn’t admit to it.
I have had notes stapled to my shirt from my teacher. When I came home with a ripped sweater from snatching the note off...then I would admit to something. But only if I got caught.
James actually took his punishment like a man, admitted his wrongdoing and awaited his sentence.
The next day, he was still so concerned about “the incident.” He assured us he would work his way back to the green level, and he would apologize to his teacher.
I know there will be plenty of more days of landing on “red” left in James’ life. There will be more lectures, more punishments and more promises.
But I hope he will be as honest about it as he was yesterday. I have my doubts, but that’s part of being a parent. You never know what kids are going to say or do.
But if he comes home with a ripped sweater, it won’t be too hard to figure it out.