I have this new weird parenting strategy. I've just developed it as our seven year old daughter has started to get older. Let me tell you about her first, she is a gem. She's kind and her heart spills over with hospitality and warmth. She is funny and she's darn cute (missing her two front teeth right now makes her even more "cheek-pinchable"). She's pretty smart and sometimes she talks back to her mama. She likes to push limits at home, but outside of our house she's super-obedient-girl.
I learned this theory/strategy from a fellow parent so I won't claim it as my own, but I love it! And I'm here writing today to see if any of you want to join me in what I'm calling, Pull A Red Card, for simplicity we will name it PARC. I'm imposing PARC on my seven year old daughter, because, really, she needs it.
In her classroom her teacher has the good 'ol, tried and true, discipline system of Pulling Cards. (I realize right now I will tread into teacher politics and I may never secure a good teaching job after this, I'm going to be ok with this for right now). It's a system that works. I'm not really "out to get" the system. What I'm trying to do is get my child to PARC. Seriously. So, this is what the parenting strategy looks like:
Me to my Daughter: Girl, did you pull a card today?
A: No mom.
M: What? You should pull a card tomorrow!
A: Mom (blushing and looking slightly astonished)...NO, I don't need to!
M: Oh but honey, you should! It'll be crazy and off the wall and so out of your norm! Do it!
A: Mom, no, I'm working on getting stars for all the days I stay on a green card and then I get the treasure box.
M: Oh honey, I can give you cute puppy pencils and erasers that don't erase here at home. At school you should do something wild - let's brainstorm!
M: Yeah, let's think of ideas -- You could burp in class when it's quiet reading.
M: Or what about blurting out an answer without raising your hand! Or even better, writing your name backwards at the top of your paper! Fall out of your seat on purpose to make everyone laugh! Ohhhh, or when the teacher blows her whistle, don't line up, just keep playing on the playground!
A: Mom, nooooo, Dylan* did that today and got in trouble!
M: Perfect! Then you should try that one and pull a red card!
A: No mom, I don't want to pull a red card!
M: But it will be fun and I will still love you! Let's brainstorm more ideas....
You get the picture. Right?
Then the very next day she comes home with a 14/14 on her spelling test and I'm perplexed, she barely even studied...how did she get a perfect score? Oh, well she missed two words but got two extra credit points and so now she has a perfect score. She's proud. And I'm perplexed. This situation takes me right back to my senior year - Calculus - up to this point I had a perfect 4.0, but AP Calculus was stumping me. So I think I had a B+. Not bad, but not the A I needed to be valedictorian. Not the A I wanted so that I could be proud of myself. Not the A that would help me see perfection. So....I went to my teacher and BEGGED for an extra credit project that I could do before the semester grades came out. And she gave it to me, and I did it, and I got the A. A=proud. A=valedictorian. A=perfect! A=college.
Except "A" does not equal college. I would have gotten accepted and scholarshiped had I had a 4.0 or a 3.99. Right? But it did make me feel like I was perfect. And that is dangerous.
So here's what I think - all parents, teachers, grandparents should also jump on board with PARC! Let's teach our kids that failing is OK. That when you don't hit the mark you want, you PARC and then you get back on the horse and try again. Let's teach our little ones that perfection is a lie and that you can never achieve it. That if they PARC a couple times a year, a month, a day, that is all the more room they have to get better. Let's help them see that if you get B's, or the occasional C, you will still get in to college! That to be humble and not good at ev-er-y-thing....is N.O.R.M.A.L. Let's hold the standard at a place that's reasonable. Because some of them will over achieve, whether it's in their genes, or their mind or their gosh darn hearts, they will. But then let them know that whether they do or don't you won't be surprised when they one day PARC.
Alright, my spiel is over.
Now go encourage your kids to chew gum in class and talk loud in the library,
*Dylan is a changed name...to protect his parents from getting mobbed when PARC goes wild on the internets