Friday, October 10, 2008

Sticks, Strikes and the Rejection of Imperfection

First grade has introduced two new disciplinary measures implemented by Darren and Sarah's teachers. In Darren's classroom, each child begins the day with three tongue depressors. With behavioral violations, a stick is pulled. In Sarah's class, a "strike" is drawn on the instigator's on-desk name tag. In both classes, a corrected child can earn their way back into good-standing, or conversely experience a "three strikes/three sticks you're out" parental notification scenario.

On Day Two, Darren had a stick pulled and did not manage to earn it back by day's end. He was crestfallen; but it was a valuable lesson learned early in the year (very effective rule establishment on his teacher's part, and much appreciated).

Sarah -- much like the overachieving Tracy Flick in Election -- until yesterday had never received a strike. Not a one -- to her frequently expressed delight. Particularly pleasure-bringing for her was the fact she was the sole individual in her class who could make that claim.

As I crossed the grassy field for pick up yesterday afternoon, Sarah barrelled toward me with a forced smile and exclaimed, "Mommy, I did get a strike today, but I earned it back." Whereupon she promptly buried her face into my belly and sobbed uncontrollably.

Hugs and repeated "Honey, we all make mistakes. It's okay," followed, but she was inconsolable. Mrs. W. walked over and reinforced how Sarah is such a good student and so well-behaved; it was a single incident, and she earned her good-standing back in 5 minutes. It didn't matter. To Sarah's view, the chink was in her armor.

Once semi-calmed (about 30 minutes later), she repeatedly stated how she felt, "Daddy really doesn't need to know." I reminded her she always feels better when she doesn't keep a secret, and left it at that.

6pm. The phone rings. Sarah answers it.

Sarah: "Hello?"
[Pause]

Sarah:
"Hello. This is Sarah speaking. May I ask who's calling?"
[Now I know it's Double Daddy]

Sarah: "Okay Daddy, I got a strike at school today, but I earned it right back. Please do me a favor, and don't talk about it all through dinner."
We didn't. There was even ice cream for dessert.
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16 comments:

Giovanna Diaries said...

How cute! Isn't it funny? My guys always greet me at pick-up time with "I did/didn't get in trouble today." How about a "hi"?
At least they are still in the "not keeping things from me phase".

MommyJ said...

When my oldest got his name ont he board (it's only happened once ever in three years of school), he was so upset, I had to go pick him up early. I found him sobbing in the principals office. Everyone in his table got their name on the board for talking. He insisted that he wasn't, which I actually believe because he's so shy, and talks so little... it's not that hard to accept. Anyway, he was totally devastated and couldn't get it back together enough to go back to class... I think he was also embarrassed that all his friends saw him cry... his teacher felt horrible, but I'm sure there is a lesson in there somewhere that will benefit him in the end! That's life, you know? Sometimes life isn't fair, and sometimes you're guilty simply because of the company you keep. true, yes?

Goddess in Progress said...

I got both a huge smile and an almost tear at that one. That is somehow the cutest story I've ever heard. I think I was a bit of an over-achiever in that sense, too, so I totally get both her pride and her disappointment. What wonderful kids.

Sara said...

Yep, I cried when I read that one. My heart goes out to her, poor thing. Lessons are hard. Self-inflicted need for perfection is even harder. May she learn that armor is more beautiful with a few kinks in it :-)

Amy W said...

My daughter does the same darn thing.

Nancy said...

Awww! It almost breaks your heart. But so very cute.

Thank goodness for ice cream.

Julie B. said...

Oh that really is such a sweet story. Poor Sarah! Good for her for earning it back so quickly!

Missy said...

Aww! That breaks my heart! I had to go to the principal's office in kindergarten - I still have not gotten over that!

Jen B. said...

Poor Sarah! She sounds like my Hannah who came home bawling one day because she ALMOST got a stop & think at school. She never did get one but it was just devastating to think she could have gotten one I guess! Glad we're not the only parents in the world who deal with such issues! ;)

Renata said...

Totally cute - I would have been exactly like that at that age. Hope she enjoyed her ice cream!

Gail said...

Poor Sarah. Such a sweet little thing. Don't you just hate to see their heart broken like that? I hope she's feeling better now.

noble pig said...

Okay that killed me! Poor thing, she takes things to heart....I love that!

I think you should take her to Disneyland now.

Barbara Manatee said...

aren't we often our own worst critics? Poor thing...

ChefDruck said...

Wow - that seems like some hard core disciplining. First grade is the big leagues.

Tracy said...

Poor, sweet Sarah. I hope she's recovered!

MereCat said...

I am SO like Sarah. I would have been horrified even if I earned it back. That is exactly what I would have felt like. Bless her little heart. If I knew then what I know now, I would have told the little girl MereCat it was all going to be okay. Really.