Jane hasn’t spoken to me in two days. She speaks, in small sentences, things like, “Can I have some orange juice please?” “Will you sign my homework.” and “Don’t forget to buy me a flapper dress for the Spring Sing.”
What she doesn’t say is, “I love you mom.” “This is how my day was” or anything else really. She had cried a lot the past two days, and although it’s a soul crushing experience for us both I know that I’m parenting well.
Two days ago I logged on to Power School (it’s like an online grade book) and found that my daughter hadn’t turned in thirteen school assignments. Thirteen. She had thirteen F’s, not because she’s not smart, not because she was sick, but because her binder broke and the papers fell out.
Not a crime.
Keeping it a secret from her father and me? That’s the crime.
This isn’t the first time Jane has had trouble turning her work in. She’s twelve, it’s not often that you’ll find an organized twelve year old. Part of school is learning to complete your assignments on time and to turn them in. I’m not panicked about this event, but every decision has a consequence be it a good or a bad one.
As a consequence to not doing her job at school Jane has lost her electronics for a time. That means no itouch, no computer, no blackberry and no borrowing my computer. She’s like a junkie in the afternoons begging to talk to her friends. Although I’m sure she’s not thrilled she is not suffering terribly, as we just play a little more chess and cards in the evenings.
Some of the kids are having a dance party on Friday. Jane is not going. She is punished. There are tears and she has pleaded with me to please let her go, to please take away any other thing but not the dance.
Every part of me wants to send my daughter to the dance. Every hair stands on end when I see her cry. I know how horrible she feels, how left out and lonely Friday will be. I know that this makes it the perfect consequence and that it will be a memorable event for her, and hopefully she will learn a lesson while the stakes are still low.
Mr G called me today when I was driving the kids home from school and asked how everyone was doing. I explained to him that he was on speaker phone but he wouldn’t hear from his daughter since she no longer speaks in my presence. I smiled because I find that smiling is the best way to keep the tears from falling.
When Mr. G came home from work today he made a beeline for his daughter. He kissed her on the forehead and said, “Cut it out.” Jane gave him a quizzical stare, and he repeated himself for her.
Still I’m the enemy not because I’m the one who invents the discipline here, but because I’m the enforcer. I love Jane enough to follow through even when it hurts.