My son spent the better part of last school year generating phone calls from his school to my work. I got to know the front office staff at the elementary quite well. Now he didn’t do anything heinous. As a matter of fact, he’s was just being a normal 1st grader. Pulling pigtails, the occasional talking out of turn, fun with bodily functions and general insolence. I grew weary of these calls. So we made a handshake deal, my son and I, heading into the new school year. No more calls from school. No more screwin’ around on the bus and no more touching/punching people. “I promise Dad” he said. I believed him.
Day one of 2nd grade. Phone call. Screwin’ around on the bus. Again. So how did I address this? I took away his 8th birthday this past Saturday. Yup. No presents. No special dinner at his restaurant of choice. Nothin’. No fishing (his favorite thing in the world to do) and no golf. Lots of yard work, house cleaning and time to reflect on his actions in his room. I have received a lot of flak for being a “mean parent”. Now he does have a chance to earn his birthday back. I have told him that if my phone is quiet for the next two weeks, if there are no calls from school, then we will celebrate the fact that he is 8 years old with cake and gifts and dinner and fishing and so on. Nothing would please me more.
As a divorced Dad, it’s very, very hard to play the bad guy. You want your weekends with the kids to be overflowing with quality time and laughs and hugs and memory making. But in this day and age, now more than ever, my wife and I owe it to our kids to instill a sense of accountability for their actions. I hope later in life they look back and thank me for it. I know I thank my folks everyday.