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Strange title, I know, but ’twas my response to OldestSon when he asked why SecondSon was having a friend spend the night tonight.

OldestSon moved back ‘home’ three weeks ago (which goes about 60% of the way toward explaining my absence of late), so now, on top of all the drama he brings with him, I have the inimitable pleasure of explaining how you change as a parent with each child you parent.

With six years between each of my three, I have the luxury of time and space to consider and reconsider whether my response to any given parenting situation a) worked, b) needs revision or c) needs modification due to the particular child involved – BEFORE I am met by it with the next child in succession. This is one on the very short list of reasons it’s nice to have that many years between your children.

Here’s the deal:

SecondSon is a freshman in highschool this year, and yes, has fallen prey to the illusion that he is now ‘grown’, capable of setting his own limits in just about any area you want to point at. Remembering the futile battles over this with OldestSon, I decided to allow SecondSon pretty much free reign where bedtimes, friends time, phone time, homework, etc. were concerned….with the VERY EXPLICIT understanding that when progress reports came out in the 6th week, he would find his wings severely clipped if his did not reflect the As and Bs he is most capable of.

Well…not surprisingly, his progress report was as follows:

Spanish I – D
Leadership – C
US Gov’t – C
Algebra I – D
Biology I – D
English I – F
Football – A


Without a meltdown on my part, I simply explained to him that his progress report reflects the fact that he is not capable of setting his own limits and being unsupervised in the areas of bedtime, friend time, phone time, homework, etc., and that he, by allowing his progress report to tell the story it told, was now relieved of these duties and I was back in charge of when he went to bed, how much time he spent with friends, how much time he spent on the phone and whether or not his homework got done, or not.

Given the dismal report (except for football), I informed him that bedtime was once again 10:30pm weeknights, and that all friend time and phone time would now be converted to homework time…until the grades were As and Bs like they should be. I also told him that he was now officially renamed ‘Cinderfella’, as most of the household chores were now his responsibility, as well.

I also spent a day at the school introducing myself to every last one of his teachers and informing them that I would be a regular visitor to their classrooms, sometimes unannounced. Then I committed the ultimate sin in his eyes: I told his football coach that he was officially on probation where playing in the games was concerned and that if I got the least little bit of ‘attitude’ from him, I would bench him myself. Since he’s their starting center, his coach asked if I would alert him first to any ‘attitude’ on SecondSon’s part and allow him the opportunity to run it out of him (literally) at practice. I agreed.

We are now in week 12 of the school year and he brought home his 12 week progress report today, which was:

Spanish I – D
Leadership – A
US Gov’t – C
Algebra I – C
Biology I – D
English I – C
Football – A

The grades in green reflect improved grades. He also had no grades slip, so I agreed to let him have a friend spend the night tonight in celebration. I also agreed (after being begged by both him and his girlfriend) to award phone time for test and homework grades submitted to me according to the following conversion table:

A = 15 mins
B = 10 mins
C = 5 mins

Today he whipped out two tests and a graded homework assignment which allowed him 40 mins on the phone. (I may never again allow unlimited phone time on school nights…I think I’m really going to like this particular solution.)

So, while he still considers himself an inmate at the Mom Correctional Facility with no possibility of parole, even inmates are allowed visitors now and then.