My son’s high school strives to maintain a climate that emphasizes high expectations for all students. I know this to be true for two reasons. One, the last time I was at the high school I saw one of their thermostats, and it was set to “Emphasize High Expectations”, which is the setting right next to “Endeavor To Not Get Shot By A Picked-On Nerd”. Two, I received a letter from the dean’s office bragging about their emphasis on high expectations. The letter went on to say that my son has met those expectations set by the HVAC system in the school.
Do you know how he did that? No, he hasn’t gotten straight A’s. No, he is not a McDonald’s All-American (but he does order the Double Quarter Pounder when he eats at McDonalds’s, so I’m guessing he may have gotten a few votes for that). No, he was not voted Prom Queen (he took eighth). He has achieved these lofty heights of success by being courageous enough to have behaved himself in a manner as to not have received a discipline referral for one month. That’s one month, IN A ROW! If that isn't expecting the most out of teenagers today, I don't know what is.
As you might imagine, his mother and I are very proud. Neither of us ever performed so admirably in high school to have prompted such an illustrious letter to our respective parents. For this honor, my son has “earned the right to have four progressive discipline points removed from his discipline record”, and possibly a lesson in redundancy.
This letter surprised me, but not because I did not expect my son to last a whole month without getting into trouble. I never realized that could be even considered a feat of recognition. What surprised me is that this has been the first month out of the seventeen months he’s been in high school that he’s been an upstanding citizen.
I had been aware of only three instances of notoriety on his part. Two of them involved improper use of food in the cafeteria. Apparently, he’s found other uses for the liverwurst fruit rollups I’ve been packing in his lunch bag. I don’t recall the specifics of the third incident, but I seem to remember something about photographs, blackmail and the teacher’s lounge. Why didn’t they tell me about the other thirteen months worth of shenanigans he’s been waging? He's been waging shenanigans. That's not easy to do.
What bothered me the most about the letter was the last line: “We would like to thank you for your involvement and for your son’s commitment to improve.” Right - my son’s commitment to improve. In reality, you just haven’t caught him doing anything stupid for a month. They may as well have said to me, “Your son isn't as big of an asshole as we thought he was. We are delighted to see that you’ve gotten off the couch and finally did some parenting.” As if I ever told him specifically to launch liverwurst bombs at the cheerleader lunch table. I did advise him to develop his entrepreneurial skills, which may or may not have led to the blackmail episode. I’ll take credit for that one.
How am I supposed to nip him in the bud unless they tell me about the nefariousness he’s blossoming into as it happens? They didn’t even bother to tell me how many progressive discipline points he’s “earned”. If he can only reduce his total by four points a month, is it even mathematically possible for him to reach zero in his remaining nineteen months? It would help me to know what I’m up against here. Who knows, maybe he’s on the brink of a new record. If he’s close, it may behoove him to set a goal to beat that record. It’s good to have goals. I wouldn't want to get in the way of his road to immortality.
As the true criminal that my son is, he denied having any knowledge of the existence of discipline points, referrals, the dean’s office, the fact that he’s in high school or the notion of what a good boy is. I admire his resolve. I told him to take the letter to the dean’s office (after he “finds out where it is”) and ask them for a medal, or at least a ribbon. Meanwhile, I will wait by the mailbox for the invitation to Honors Night.