Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I guess I'm a free range helicopter pilot.

So, yesterday I got a call from Ben's math teacher. She wanted to let me know that she had changed a math test grade from 65 to 97.

I asked her why she would do such a thing.

She said that when she asked Ben why he did so poorly on the test, he said it was because he had traded his calculator for Pokemon cards. She wanted him to have the opportunity to take the test with a calculator, and when he did, he got a 97.

I knew about the Pokemon card/calculator trade already. He's had extra chores to pay off the $20 I spent on it, and the other $20 I'll have to pay to replace it.

Anyway, I told her he deserved the 65. He's twelve and a half and has an IQ higher than Hitler. He knows his calculator is required for class and needed for the tests. If he's going to be dumb enough to trade it for Pokemon cards, then he needs to suffer the consequences of his stupidity.

And she argued with me! She thought it was only fair to give him the 97, since he clearly knows how to do the work--he just needed the calculator for the complex equations. And I reiterated that it was only fair that he get the 65, because every other kid in that class remembered to bring their calculator. Heck, one even gave up his Pokemon card collection to make sure he had one. He needs to get the 65.

Ultimately, it's the teacher's decision. I'm sure he'll get the 97, and I'm sure it will reinforce that he can be an asshat and get away with it.

What was particularly ironic about the whole thing was that the same day this took place, numerous friends posted a link to this article. It's worth the click to read it, but the gist of it is, good teachers are leaving the profession because parents are jack-wagons who won't allow them to do their jobs. It talks a lot about parents fighting teachers for higher grades for their kid, or making excuses when their kid doesn't do their work.

I can guarantee you I'm not one of those parents.

I hear a lot about helicopter parenting and free range parenting. I don't feel that I fall into either of those categories.

On the one hand, I don't ever try to protect my kids from consequences they deserve. Do I like it when they feel bad or get a bad grade? Of course not. But I also don't want them to grow up to be the kind of person who whines that they got a ticket when they knowingly parked illegally.

I don't want them to think for one second that mom and dad will bail them out of jail. I want them to know that mom and dad will still love them no matter what, and will visit them regularly at the penitentiary, but they will sit in jail until they've paid their debt to society for whatever it is they've done.

Consequences for stupid choices are hard. The sooner they learn that, the better.

Consequences for smart choices are awesome. The sooner they learn that, the better.

On the other hand, they will be in booster seats until the recommended age/height/weight. They will wear bike helmets. They will wash their hands often, and brush their teeth daily. They will not eat junk instead of dinner.

They will not ride their bikes out of my sight until I know for sure they won't get in a stranger's car. They will not play inside a friend's house if I haven't met the parents and know that parents are home.

I will not let my 5 year old use the stove or a knife without my help.

When they were babies, I put them to sleep on their sides and didn't put bedding or toys in their cribs.

I didn't eat soft cheeses even though I lived in Europe for my first pregnancy.

I hear people go on all the time about how they never wore a seat belt or a bike helmet. How they weren't put in a car seat as a baby. How their mother smoked a pack a day and washed it down with a six pack of beer when she was pregnant. How they ate lead paint chips for snack every day and look--they survived.

Just because you survived doesn't make those things safe or O.K. It just means natural selection had bigger fish to fry that week.

Yes, most of us survived those things. Our parents didn't know any better and we got lucky. But too many didn't survive them, and it's sad because it could have been prevented had people known. Of course we can't completely protect our kids from harm and injury, but I'm certainly going to do all I can.

So, I don't know what you'd call me. I don't know where on the spectrum between helicopter and free range I fit in.

All I do know is that my honor student can kick your honor student's ass, but they'll be grounded for a week if they do.

(Ooh! Speaking of school, The Oatmeal had this today. Read it right now! (There's some swearing, so beware if swearing offends you.))

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