I wrote this post about reminding Stephen about his homework too much 2 years ago, and I’m happy to report there has been progress. That post was inspired by Stephen forgetting his library book and then blaming me when he got home from school. But I realized that his attitude was my fault. Instead of teaching him that his library book is his job, I had taught him that it was mine by taking on the responsibility instead of leaving it in his hands. It was an eye-opening parenting moment for me; it showed me that when I remind and do things for him, he relies on me instead of taking responsibility for himself. I decided to change my parenting technique and allow him to forget and experience the consequences. Since then, he’s missed recess because he has to spend it doing the homework he forgot, he’s walked to school after missing the bus, and he’s been hungry after forgetting his lunch. And now my forgetful poky-puppy is improving.
A few weeks ago, Stephen came home with a past-due library slip. He couldn’t check out any books because he didn’t return the last book he got. I offered sympathy and just said, “Bummer. I guess if you can’t find it you’ll have to pay for it.” He couldn’t find the book and kept returning home with past-due notices. I said nothing about it.
Then last week, he came up the stairs wearing a new vest.
“That vest looks good on you, Stephen!”
“Thanks,” he said. “I’m wearing it because I needed something with pockets.”
“Why do you need pockets today?” I asked.
“I have to bring my wallet to school, because I saved my allowance. It’s library day and I want to check out a book, so I have to bring my money and pay for the book I lost.” He put his jacket on, grabbed his bag, and opened the door. “See ya!” He said, leaving with Adrian for the bus.
I watched him walk down the driveway, realizing the difference between this library day and that library day 2 years ago. It took a lot of tongue-biting to let him forget things and miss the bus, but now I am seeing the long-term results. Every day, I see how Stephen is becoming a young man. My job is not to protect him from mistakes; my job is to shape him into a man who will benefit his world.