Last night, my husband and I attended a wedding. It was not your typical wedding as it was held in my school lunchroom. And the happy couple were puppets. It was the wedding of Q and U and my sweet husband was the Rabbi (apparently Q is Jewish). The second graders have been about to burst with excitement over this wedding.
You should have seen the decorations! The lunchroom was truly transformed into a chapel suitable for a wedding and reception. If they'll do this much for two puppets, I want to hire these teachers and parents for the end of the year party. It'll be a blow-out!
Only one child misbehaved at the wedding. Unfortunately, his mother makes a lot of excuses for him. "He peed his pants because he was really interested in the computer program." "He likes to collect a lot of things - even broken glass." "He doesn't always listen to me until I can promise him a new toy. That is how I get him to do his work." "The doctor says he has ADHD. That is why he hides under the desk when he doesn't want to do his work."
Last night, when this child started his shenanigans, we just sent him to his excuse maker. We don't get paid for evenings, so she can just deal with him.
While at the wedding, I saw the daughter of one of my teachers. This daughter is about my age. She is very close to her parents and is one of the nicest people you'll ever meet. And it reminded me of the story her mother once told me. I've used this story many times since when parents are giving excuses about their children. I think it is time for me to have a meeting with Mrs. Excuse Maker.
When nice daughter was 15, she was diagnosed with leukemia. It was very serious and at a point, the daughter was living on the cancer ward with a grim prognosis. Mom let this daughter talk to her however she wanted. She was terrified her daughter was going to die. The doctors kept talking about numbers and counts and the daughter got sicker and sicker. And meaner. And more demanding.
If this daughter said "I want" she got it. She became so mean and demanding the nurses had difficulty getting her to comply with her medical treatment. And her mother made excuses for her. "She doesn't feel well." "She really doesn't like getting shots." "She isn't very nice when she isn't feeling well."
All the while, the dad watched what was going on. He was scared. He didn't know what to do. Their life was turned upside down and they were on the verge of losing their youngest child.
One day, after the daughter had been especially ugly to her mother and a doctor, the dad took the mother down to the cafeteria for a chat. And the dad said, "We've got to start making our daughter be nice again. I can't stand the way she talks to you. I can't stand the way she talks to anyone."
When mom tried to interrupt with her excuses ("But she may be dying..."), he held up his hand.
Dad continued, "She has gotten gifts from you just because she demanded them. We have been at her beck and call and she isn't even appreciative. We need to start treating her like she is going to get better because we will have to live with the child we are creating."
Mom cried. "But what if she dies."
And dad's response was, "And what if she lives."