A Calm Approach To Discipline For A Change

Boy, we really threw Punkin for a loop yesterday.  It was only fair, since she threw me first. 

I had just come home from grocery shopping, in the early afternoon, and I was in the middle of trying to cram it all into the pantry and fridge, when I got the phone call.  It was one of the coaches from the high school, asking to speak to the parent of my only high schooler.  Then he proceeded to tell me that he was filling in for the administrator, and that he had my daughter in his office. 

"The school resource officer had returned her to the campus..." he said, when I interrupted him with ..."Whaaaaat?!".  "Yes, Ma'am," he said, "She was picked up down by the shopping center, with a friend...".  He explained that she would be given one day of out of school suspension, effective the next day, and asked me if I wanted to speak with her.  "Oooooh, I sure do."  I replied.

Of course I reamed her out.  I reminded her that her father was going to blow a fuse.  Now, in that moment, I wished I hadn't said that, because I didn't want her to think that he was the only one she had to fear.  Although I have done it in the past, I don't like to lay it all on Dad with the old "Wait until your father gets home".  I need to be seen as a disciplinarian just as well.  So, I made up for my statement by telling her that I didn't even know which one of us was going to have to hold the other one back.

Luckily for her, by the time she arrived home at the end of the day, I had been laughing hysterically, to the point of pain and tears, at an email full of catastrophic auto-corrected cellphone texts, ("Damn You, Autocorrect!"), and I was in a pretty darn good mood.  Even though I was speaking sternly (or trying to), I was having a hard time wiping the smile from my face, and out of my voice.  So, as she made her way to her room, for the first phase of her punishment, she was slightly confused.

Leaving her to the mercy of her big brother, I left to pick Hubsy up from work.  As we had already discussed over the phone, we decided to linger at his office, and plan the rest of Punkin's consequence, over a cup of coffee.  (Vanilla caramel cream, one of best Keurig flavors).  We agreed that this was not a specific "Punkin problem", but a typical "teenager problem", and decided on a different approach.

Upon arriving home, Husby's called for Punkin to join us downstairs for a meeting.  "I believe you have something to tell me", he calmly stated.  Nearly trembling with fear, she opened with an apology, and an admission of what she had done, along with an acknowledgement of the obvious stupidity of her actions.  He then spoke to her about his disappointment, and reminded her of our expectations, as well as the behavior required by the school.  The expression on her face was one of pure shock.  She anticipated an angry reaction, and something very loud to occur.  It didn't, and she really didn't know what to do with that. Together, our response was, "You did what you did, and now we have to do what we have to do.  There's no sense in getting emotional about it." 

She then began to assume her consequences.  "I expect that my current computer punishment will be extended.", she said.  (She's been banned for two weeks due a recent attempted refusal to hand over the password to her chat program).  Hubsy simply stated "No".  Punkin was floored.  Her sudden gape made her look like she had just stepped into the Twilight Zone, and I don't mean the one with glittery romantic vampires.  She continued, "I expect that my after school curfew will be moved up."  I jumped in on that one with "Absolutely".  She nodded.  Then Hubsy and I rounded out the meeting with handing her one week of solitary confinement in her room, to be broken only by family meals, and chores."  She nodded again.

As she turned to head back upstairs, she stopped and turned back to us.  "I just want to say thank you, Dad, for not yelling at me.  I was expecting you to blow up, and I was really scared, and I really appreciate that you didn't".  Hmmm.

Before going to bed, after dinner, we got our typical goodnight hugs.  Mine came with, "I'm really sorry for what I did today, and I'm really glad that you're a parent who cares."  I was quite taken aback, and I answered, "Have I ever been a parent who didn't care?"... "No", she said, "But I've been seeing lately that a lot of my friend's parents don't punish them for the stuff that they do, when they really should."  And then she went to bed.

Mission Accomplished.

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