Schools all across the country are heading back for classes this month. It is the time that calendars are reset, children are excited to go to classes, new sneakers line up next to doors.
For each of my children, it is the reset on one counter in particular.
Each year, children all across the country place calls to moms, dads, grandparents and family friends to bring them items they have left at home.
When I was a full-time stay at home mom, I would answer these calls, and deliberate over whether to run to their rescue or not. As their mom, my desire is to help them as much as possible, to ease their discomfort. However, as the person raising them to be responsible adults, I realize that I cannot always save the day.
Instead, we have reached an agreement over the years, and each child receives one free pass per school year.
One phone call. One trip. One set of drumsticks. One violin. One piece of homework left on the table. One set of gym shoes.
No matter what the item is, no matter how desperately they feel they need it, they each get one call.
As an employee, if I forget my laptop, lunch, favorite pen, or anything else at home, I have to make a choice to either go without it for the day or go home and be late for work. This is the lesson I want them to comprehend.
We want to save our kids. We don’t want them to suffer. We want to save them from any punishment they may receive. This is not teaching them a lesson.
A student who approaches their teacher to let them know they do not have their work is a student who is learning to take responsibility for their actions. They are learning accountability.
A student whose parents run to save them at every turn becomes the adult who provides excuses to their boss every day for their poor performance.
I do no make excused for my children, I want them to learn to take responsibility for themselves.
A few years ago, I was asked by one of my kids to write a note explaining to their teacher that they had not completed their homework.
I complied and wrote, “(Child’s name) did not complete their math homework, as they chose to spend the evening watching YouTube videos instead. Please address as you wish.”
The child thanked me for the note and headed out the door. The child did not read the note prior to presenting to the teacher, believing a ready-made excuse was what they were receiving. After missing recess to complete their math worksheet, I have never been asked to write an excuse note again.
Teaching our kids to take responsibility for their actions may seem painful at the time, though in the long run, they will be better off.