Legal Quandary

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Pack Your Bags, Kids! We're Going on a Guilt Trip!

I've written before about EC's rather poor ability to lie and/or conceal material facts. It seems she recently decided to test whether her skills had improved. I would give her a B- on the planning and execution of her latest endeavor because she had mixed success.

Apparently, she had an assignment due two weeks ago. It was not a complex or even time consuming assignment, but for some reason it just did not get done. I would speculate that it is mainly because it's a bunch of busywork that I probably wouldn't have completed in a timely manner as a child either, but that's beside the point.

The point is that she wasn't upfront about it and sought the conceal the noncompletion from us this whole time.

This whole two weeks, EC has been building these intricate constructions with these (very cool) sandstone blocks my dad bought her. And playing with the neighbor kids. And been making little bracelets and weaving purses for her "business" where she attempts to hawk this stuff to her classmates. I appreciate her entrepreneurship and typically encourage her in these endevours. (Though personally, I wouldn't buy the stuff. But maybe that's only because I've been gifted with too many of her artistic "wall hangings" and such. E.Spat might endorse the bracelet and necklace part though - she even bought one for M.)

EC confessed that she didn't tell us about the overdue assignment because she recently signed up to be in a play at school and didn't want us to take that away. Mr. Q had conditioned her participation on all of her schoolwork being completed. She promised it would be (knowing that at the time, this assignment was already overdue). I wrote out a check for $60 on Thursday to allow her to participate. We found out about her assignment yesterday purely by chance when Mr. Q happened to run into one of EC's teachers in the hallway yesterday, who made EC spill the beans.

So the question is - do we let her participate in the play and just take away a bunch of other stuff? OR do we yank her out of the play? I've already put the kibosh on the "business" and there was much sadness on EC's part, but I don't feel that's punishment enough. Largely because the play was the motivation for the lie. On the other hand, E. Spat argues somewhat convincingly that taking away the play won't necessarily discourage her from lying to us in the future, but will only make her hate us for taking that away. I also hate just throwing $60 away.

Anyone have any creative solutions as to how we can get our point across without taking the play away? I'm sort of thrilled she's into that stuff and it also gets her out of my hair til 5:30 for 2 days a week.

Mr. Q and I have perfected the good cop/bad cop interrogation routine. He dragged the basics out of her yesterday afternoon and told her that she had to confess to me. Of course, he filled me in on all the details before she got a chance to fess up. Which I'm sure makes her wish there were a little more distance between the whole law school experience and parenting because you know I treat her like she's on trial. Even though I have yet to take Trial Advocacy and don't really know how to effectively conduct a cross-examination, I do get results from her.

Me: So, I'm a little confused as to timeframes here. Maybe you can clear this up for me, EC. When exactly was this project assigned?

EC: I don't remember.

Me: Well surely, you remember generally when it was assigned. Was it last week? The week before? A month ago?

EC: About 2 weeks ago.

Me: I see. And sometime between two weeks ago and now you asked to be in the play, is that correct?

EC: Yes.

Me: And when Mr. Q agreed to let you be in the play - did he set any conditions?

And so on...she was in tears at various points, but I think she fessed up everything and got the general idea that she was in heaps-o-trouble.

Poor kid. You would think she would eventually learn to either keep her mouth shut and/or lawyer up before talking to Mr. Q. Because she's got to know that whatever she says can and will be used against her in later proceedings.

Update:

Here's one of EC's Sandstone Block creations from last week:
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Comments:
Don't take the play! Take away some activity that is purely fun. Being in a play is way too valuable an experience for lots of reasons other than being fun.
 
From a parent of a 6 year old (almost 7) and an 8 year old, who was in a play in the Fall .... I don't know how old EC is, but I'll throw my opinion in for ya.

In some ways, it seems fair to take away the play, b/c she knew that completed school work was a condition for it. HOWEVER, by taking away the play, you're kind of implementing the rule retro-actively. Kind of. She lied. Although I think that it would ahve taken a LOT for a person of any age to at that point - at that moment - come clean about the overdue work.

I would try and think about what it is you want to punish ... it's either unfinished school work, or lying. I think that the punishment should be about those things, not about a play.

Maybe you can tell EC that she must every day write down a list of all work assigned and give it to you, or put it on the fridge, and check things off as she finishes them, so that what is going on is transparent. This is also a reduced level of trust, which she earned with her lie. And you can check things a little more thoroughly than you previously thought you had to, which will probably also be a consequence (for her as much as for you) for the lie and the unfinished work.

I also know that when I was in school (4th - 6th grade), I got in trouble a lot for not doing my homework, and my mother and teachers had to start sending these sheets back and forth, so that my mom knew what I was supposed to be doing, and everything was very closely monitored. It was very uncomfortable for me. But yet related to the issue of telling my mom i didn't have any homework, and then not having my work completed when i got to school.
 
Apparently, there are Narnia Events going on all over the country that are movie "sneek peeks". I just found some information at Narnia Resources
 
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