Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Swift, tough and effective

My 12-year-old son is failing language arts. How is this possible? Kill me now?
The reason? He has to write 14,000 words this term, and he thinks that's too much. So his response, apparently, is to do none of it.
As a result of the failing grade, I have taken away his computer and beloved video games. The kid spends hours attached to those devices. When he brings his grade to a B, he gets them back.
Riding in the car yesterday he told me my punishments are not like his dad's, which are slow, verbal and take a long time to come. Mine, he said, are "swift, tough and effective."
"Thank you," I said.
"That wasn't a compliment," he said.
"How'd you get to be so tough?" he said.
He asked me how I came up with my punishment, and I explained that it was easy. What does Adam love? Computer and video games. What does Adam spend a great deal of time doing? Playing computer and video games. And this fill-in-the-blank question: "If Adam spent less time doing ______, he would have more time for his studies." Anyone?
That' right: playing computer and video games.
::applause, applause::
My ex is enforcing the no computer/video game rule at his house, too. He added a little carrot to it: If Adam gets all As, he gets a fat reward.
I get to be the bad guy; he gets to be the good guy. I'm totally cool with that. My son seems to enjoy it when I put on my strict-parent suit, which I don't have to do often because he is, basically, a good kid.
Two days into his electronic-free life, "I'm bored" has become his mantra. He strolls aimlessly around the apartment, reminding me that he wouldn't have to annoy me if I would let him play video games. He's sleeping more because there is no reason to stay up late or get up early; I'm turning him into a lazy bum, he said, by turning off his computer and PS2.
I'm loving every minute of it, and I suspect, so is he.

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