Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Parenting Advice Wanted: What Would YOU Do?

Those of you who are teacher will enjoy this one too.

Right before spring break Lulu got a detention for chewing gum. 

The Scenario:  Lulu's friend, we'll call her Erin, offered Lulu a piece of gum.  Lulu politely refused the piece of gum.  Erin said that she had an extra piece to share.  Lulu asked if the gum is "spicy" {{Spicy is what Lulu calls most gums that are minty and Lulu doesn't like minty gum}}.  Erin said that the gum is not spicy and so Lulu and Erin shared the piece of gum.  Both girls got busted.  Both girls were issued detentions which were to be served AFTER the spring break {{sometime at the end of this week}}.

We (her parents - all three of us) have told her that this is not a big deal... she is not in trouble with us... this is a lame rule... but we must obey the school rules.  In other words, "Sorry babe - good luck in detention.  Don't do it again."  :-)

Despite this, Lulu continues to be distraught that she has a detention... crying that she NEVER thought that she would have detention.

Just last night it came to our attention, via Lulu, that according to Erin... Erin's mom called the school and spoke to the principal and told the principal that (1) this is a stupid rule, (2) the teachers need to worry about something else, and (3) Erin has a hair appointment that day and, thus, will not be serving detention.  According to the story, the principal let Erin out of detention.

I wondered what would happen if someone just decided NOT to go to detention, so I consulted the county's 2009-2010 student handbook.  Low and behold... there is NO mention of any food, drink, or gum rules in the handbook.  There are rules for bullying, gangs, weapons, drugs, dress code, and so on... but not one single rule for food, specifically g-u-m

BTW - I called the school and the two people I spoke to cannot confirm or deny if Erin will actually be serving the detention.  The two people I spoke to said that NO GUM is absolutely a rule, but they don't remember what page the rule is on.  {{I'm telling' you... I did a word search for "gum" and "food" in the electronic version of the handbook as well as skimmed the ENTIRE handbook and found no mention of such a rule.}}

Let the record show that I was fully prepared to support the detention punishment, regardless of what Erin was doing, until I learned that no one can show me that this is an actual school rule anyways.

Also, even though I think the No Gum rule is crazy, in an e-mail discussion with the teacher, the teacher said that she enforces the rule because she is the one responsible for scraping off the gum when the students put the gum on desks and chairs.  Ewwwww.....!  Fair enough!!

What would you do? Should Lulu serve a detention for something that (1) an equal offender does NOT have to serve detention for (because she has a hair appointment for goodness sakes) and (2) doesn't even appear to be an actual and bona fide rule? 


Rebecca said...

First of all, this is a pet peeve of mine, so before you read on, be prepared for a huge opinion... lol! Think is, we must support our teachers. Laming out on detention because of a hair appointment points directly to what's going wrong in our schools today. You don't like the rule? Discuss it with your teacher. You don't like that it's a rule that's not in the handbook? Discuss it with your teacher. Fact remains that the kids got busted chewing gum. Done. They need to serve the detention. Here's why: 1. they'll learn to respect the rules 2. they'll learn to respect the teacher 3. they'll learn to uphold their own respect of the rules when others try to get them to break the rules 4. they'll see your respect for the teacher -- which seems to be lacking throughout this story and is concerning

These are big lessons for our kids to learn. I teach middle school kids a class for part of the year. I found myself teaching them how to show respect. Why? Our kids aren't being taught how to show respect toward adults. Why?

Good luck with this one. Now that one of the kids is off the hook, it looks like it's become quite a pickle and I don't envy you at all!

SusieQ said...

Oh, I could to on for a long time on this one. For a start, no gum in school has been a rule FOREVER and everyone knows it. Whether or not it "is written" does not change the rule. She broke the rule, she was caught and now there is a consequence to her action. She will not learn a thing by her parents "getting her off".. And what happens to the other girl is of no concern when it comes to dealing with Lulu's own action/consequence. She needs to know that you respect the rules of the school and will not tolerate offenses. What do you think would have happened if you had done the same thing when you were at Grammercy? Hmmm???

Do you remember when you were in Miss Too's class and were supposed to put your homework in a box every morning? You didn't.. When the grades came out you were hysterical as you never had a grade like that before.. so off to school we went. When she said the grade was because you never turned in any homework, you produced it out of your notebook.. every one. She said she could change the grade, but she wasn't going to do it as you wouldn't learn anything that way.. She didn't change it and you never did anything like that again.. Guess you learned something...

I won't embarass you with any more of your shortcomings (hahaha!!) but I guess you can tell where I stand on this one.. Very sorry, Lulu...

ms. mindless said...

LONG COMMENT coming. Sorry :).

I completely agree with Rebecca and SusieQ. As a former teacher I would be pissed if a parent complained about "no gum" not being in the rule book. It is pretty much a standard norm in ALL schools. Have you ever pulled gum off of a desk or pencils or out of a kids hair or had ANOTHER parent call you becasue a classmate put gum on a kid's shirt or shoe or bookbag, etc? All kids know that they should not have gum in school, bottom line. In my classroom, I had 3 rules: Work Hard, Be Nice, Use Good Judgment. The reason for those 3 ambiguous rules...PARENTS who wanted to say, "well, it doesn't explicitly state in your code of conduct that my kind can't poke someone in line so he can't get in trouble for it". Erin's mom is teaching her the lesson that she doesn't have to follow rules if one complains enough and that the rules don't apply to her. What happens when Erin does something actually bad and expects her mom to bail her out? She is setting Erin up to be a little monster. If you teach Lulu that she has to take responsibility for her actions, she will be a MUCH better kid.

T.J. said...

As a former teacher I was about to write about the gum rules blah blah blah... and then I read all the previous comments and all I really need say is "ditto"

Jen said...

Aww poor lulu, my heart truly goes out to her. I think that she shouldn't have to serve detention if she is not a rule breaker. Back in my day you would at least get a warning first before they handed detention out. For the teacher having to scrape gum off the desks I think the real trouble makers who are a constant problem should have to do that why they are serving a detention, maybe that's a little harsh but I am in the military and when folks get in trouble they usually get community service. Which I think is community service to the School!!

Nap Mom said...

okay - okay - okay! Wow! I expected someone to say that Lulu shouldn't go to detention.

Gee - this is a tough crowd! ;-)

Well, you will all be happy to know that Lulu is going to detention today. She is so scared though. She had to deliver a note to the detention room yesterday, and didn't like all of the miserable faces that she saw.

I wished her the best of luck as I sent her off to school today.

Thanks for your honesty! I'll let you know how it went!

Lisa66 said...

Hi! I'm Lisa, I made my way here from Mim's blog.

Just wanted to let you know that I (as a parent and a former teacher) think that detention for a first time gum misdemeanor is a little too severe!!

I do agree with the other comments that "no gum" is a standard school rule, whether written or not and that seeing as Lulu broke the rule she must accept the consequence. But sheesh, tough penalty! Hope she was OK after serving her "time".

Nap Mom said...

Thanks for all of your feedback. Lulu was both scared and mortified to have to serve detention. Luckily, Lulu knew the teacher who was the detention monitor for the Lulu still had to take her punishment, but she wasn't so frightened during the experience. Whew!