Friday, October 26, 2007

An Epilogue to The Boy and The Note

One of the things I'd been meaning to post (before this week's big news) was an Epilogue on The Boy and The Note situation. Last week, I found yet another scrap of notebook paper in H's backpack that had some sort of scribbling on it. I always have to check them because I never know if it's work she's done for school, or a reminder note from a teacher, another child, etc. This note read something like:

"Im relly sory for telling on you. Do you forgiv me?"

There was no addressee, but the name of one of her friends was also on the paper. So, I asked if she and her friend Brooke had recently had any problems. She insisted that they hadn't, but after some coaxing, she then explained that she'd hurt Brooke's feelings somehow and was asking Brooke to forgive her. She said that everything was okay now, but she wouldn't tell me what happened. She argued that it was "private."

My response: "Okay, if you say so... You're the only one who knows the truth."

A minute later...She caved.

H: "Okay, here's the truth."

She proceeded to explain that the note was to The Boy, asking for forgiveness for getting him in so much trouble. As it turns out, The Boy's Mother (TBM) is crazy. Like, wacko-strict-parent-with-a-possible-temper-issue crazy. After hearing the report from the after-school program, TBM responded by "whooping" her child. This 8-yr old boy got a spanking for asking my daughter - in a note - if she'd like to kiss "French style."

I'd anticipated the possibility of him returning and being a bit upset with H because he'd been outed, but I figured the worst punishment he'd face might be a grounding or something. I never imagined he'd be physically hit! He, obviously, was more than a little resentful, and because H is a super-sensitive kid. She'll cry at any human interest story on the news. Naturally, then, she felt incredibly guilty about the whole thing. To make things worse, he circled the "No" box on the note H wrote him, asking him for forgiveness!!

I tried to explain to her that he'd probably come around, that he just needed some time. I also reminded her that she didn't tell on him, but rather I'd found the note in her backpack by chance. She told me she'd lied about the note because she was afraid she'd be in trouble for violating the "No more notes to The Boy rule." I think I did the right thing. I didn't even mention the rule. Instead, I explained:

"Wow, when you heard how much trouble The Boy got in, you must have been really sad, huh? I can completely understand why you felt bad, because he's someone that you're friends with...So it makes sense that you'd feel like you should apologize and ask for his forgiveness."

I didn't freak out. I didn't give her any consequences for breaking the rule. I tried to establish this as a precedent that things - the Law especially - aren't always black and white. And that many times there are other feelings we have that make us do something even when we know it's against the rules. I used this as an example of showing her that when she talks to me and is honest with me about her problems, that I'll listen and try to put myself in her shoes.

I think it's worked so far because when I took her out to dinner last night - just the two of us, eating our favorite Indian food - she was open about the questions and concerns she has about this ADHD thing (that will be my next post). I just don't want to take any day for granted because I know how precious of a gift it is that she's still willing to be open with me and talk about her problems. My (natural) father put the Fear of God into me when I was a child, and it's not something that goes away easily (maybe not at all). I don't ever want my children to be afraid of me and have that fear driving their decisions and the dynamic between us.

So for now, here's another tic mark on the I Think I Did It Right side of the parenting scoreboard.

1 comment:

mom said...

Wow - I think you handled this extremely well. Kudos to you. I have a sensitive child too and I think it's a good quality, but there are times whne it's a bit much to bear.