The boy-child was in a bad mood last night. He’d been sent to the principal’s office for not having a required text book. This is week three of the teaching year and it’s not like the class is still colouring-in name badges and doing introductions. The kid’s actually been coming home and telling us cool stuff he’s learned.
The reason he didn’t have the book was that he hadn’t gotten around to walking to the bookshop (a whole five minutes away) and buying it. This is despite several conversations with me that went kind of like this
Me: did you get your history text book?
B-c: Not yet, I’ll do it today.
Me: well text me from the bookshop and I’ll transfer the money into your account.
B-c: ok. Will do.
Me: Did you get your history book? You didn’t text me.
B-c: I, well I was pretty busy today. I’ll do it tomorrow.
Me: Don’t forget to get your text book.
B-c: I won’t
I even sent a couple of reminder texts. All of this goes against my principle of not being the kid’s brain / memory, but I figured he’s been on holiday for a couple of months and needed a bit of support.
But of course he turned up at class yesterday without his book and the inevitable followed.
And … this is the bit that I’m not getting … he’s annoyed with the Principal for a) wanting to see him about it, b) being annoyed with him, and c) giving him a detention – which frankly I think has more to do with his attitude of blaming others for his problems than the actual lack of a book.
Now I feel really fortunate that the boy-child does actually tell me stuff about what’s going on in his life, and I don’t want to sever that line of communication, but I felt completely unable to sympathise with him over yesterday’s events.
So we had THE CHAT … about how his school has a very strong philosophy of freedom and personal responsibility, and how he can’t really enjoy the freedoms without taking responsibility. About how what’s happened at school is very similar to what happens at home and that while I love him unconditionally, the same isn’t true of the Principal or his History teacher. And about how, if people don’t take responsibility for their own actions, governments (including the Principal) will impose rules. And boy, does my kid hate rules!
I don’t know how much of any of this has sunk in. It seems to me that my child operates in a very different universe to the one I know – one in which time has a purely personal dimension. He is amazingly good at achieving the things he wants in a very short time-frame, but it doesn’t seem to have occurred to him that others’ time might not be infinitely elastic. I don’t think he’s deliberately selfish, just
massively largely unaware.
And this is the same child who, only minutes after the CHAT, remembered that I’d just come from a meeting and took the time to not only ask meaningful questions about how it went but also display an understanding of the issues and politics.
I wasn’t expecting that.
This post was written in the countdown to my son’s sixteenth birthday. Here’s what’s gone before: