But Mom, I can explain

Two steps forward and one step back, that’s the game we play when raising children, right? Two hard fought steps forward and then the inevitable one step backwards. It is progress report time at the elementary school. Usually this day is no different than any other before it, but 2nd quarter, 4th grade is a different story for us this year.

The kids came home from school yesterday, bounding through the door, ready for snacks, play and so on. Dustin asks if he can watch tv, and I said sure, he could even watch our big tv – he didn’t need to use the one in the playroom. I ask for lunchboxes and red folders. The folders contain papers and a million pieces of paper reminding me about craft night, fundraisers, and short days ahead. I reach into Dustin’s bag and he tells me that I need to sign his progress report and send it back. Then I see the panic in his face as he proclaims, “Mom. I can explain.”

Me: What?

Him: I got a D in Math.


Him: I got a D in Math and a C in English.

Me: Turn off the TV.

I open his paper. Yep, there it is, a big D in Math and a C in English with a note from the teacher saying that these grades were reflecting homework not turned in. Homework that he had misplaced between our house and his desk, because I had seen his finished work every night. I called the teacher. We talked. I turn to Dustin who had been hovering nearby.

Him: But Mom, I can explain.

Well, I let him explain for a couple of minutes and then I explained to him how life is going to be without television, gameboy, PS2 and a computer. We call this Unplugged around here, and I’ve not had to Unplug anyone in quite some time. I suppose it was time. It pained me greatly to see my son cry. I want him to understand that this isn’t okay, which is why he was Unplugged. He can still read, play, and be a kid, but without the electronic distractions. His teacher and I will be in constant contact over the next few months, and after two weeks of completed homework turned in on time everytime Dustin will regain his privledges. I have full faith and confidence that he will meet this goal in two weeks.

After our talk, he magically found a couple of the missing papers in the bottom of his backpack. I imagine that he likely found a couple more wadded in his desk today at school. His teacher will allow him to turn them in for credit.

Last night before bed we talked. I told him I loved him and hugged him tight. This is only a step backwards, soon we’ll be moving forward again with another life lesson learned.