I swear we try really hard to make sure Addie gets her homework done before she gets to do anything fun. She knows that she isn’t allowed to watch any television until her homework is completed and she’s not allowed to play with friends either.
It’s tough to make sure her assignments are finished if we don’t really know what homework is assigned. She has her regular assignments, but even then we don’t know if the kid breezed through the homework packet at school, which she does do sometimes, or if she’s putting it off until the last minute.
Despite our efforts and emphasis to Addie on the importance of doing her assignments on time, she decided it was easier not to tell us about homework so she could play right off the bat.
One week a few months into the school year, Casey began noticing that my signature was appearing on the daily reading log that Addie hands in to her teacher. Only, I hadn’t been signing her daily reading log. Addie had figured out how to forge my signature so well, that the only way we could tell a difference between my actual signature and her forgery is that the signature had been written in crayon.
I just so happened to have spent that day in the comfort of a jail cell, helping a client who had been convicted of forgery. I had an over-the-top discussion about forgery and fraud and how it results in spending many months locked behind bars. (Being the daughter of a lawyer has got to be fun.) But that discussion still didn’t stop Addie. Who would have thought?
One morning when I was getting Addie’s breakfast ready, she told me that she had a coloring assignment that she had to finish because it was due first thing that day. Her teacher had apparently told the class that if they didn’t finish the homework assignment on time, they were going to get a red mark.
Addie’s teacher uses a series of colors that she uses for disciplining students. Purple means great behavior and green means good behavior. Yellow, orange, and red are all bad marks in varying degrees. One time Addie came home after receiving three yellow marks three days in a row and her punishment ended up being fairly severe. So the threat of a red mark brought terror to Addie’s face.
I asked Addie why she hadn’t bothered to finish the assignment. She told me that she didn’t know.
It was time to send a message by letting her deal with the consequences of not finishing her homework on time. The kid would get her red mark. Those were the breaks.
I took her coloring sheet away and told her she had to eat her breakfast, brush her teeth, and get all of her school work in her backpack and ready to go before she could start coloring her homework.
By the time she was finished with all the things I told her to do, she had about five minutes to color her assignment. She frantically colored the picture as quickly as she could, shoved the picture in her bag and ran to the bus stop.
I didn’t hear anything about any red marks and I eventually forgot all about that day.
One day after I got home from work, Casey told me we had to go to a ceremony at the American Legion because Addie had won first place in a coloring contest. Casey showed me the picture that Addie had won the contest with and I immediately thought, “Oh crap, that backfired.”
The kid won first place in a school-wide coloring contest after only spending five minutes on the project.
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