(Continued from October 16, 2010) …… As the inductees gathered with me in the hallway for the processional, I noticed that Mary was absent. Mary was a terrific student and a very nice girl. She would often get a pass to the office just to talk about life in general.
It has been my experience that, when kids voluntarily get multiple passes to the office to see the Principal, it is either because they have natural political ability or they just need somebody to listen to them. Mary seemed to have both reasons for her visits – unfortunately, I would later learn that it was the lack of love and attention in her home life that led to her visits more than her political ambitions.
At any rate, the entire ceremony came off perfectly, parents and other family members in tears with photo cameras and video cameras going at full tilt. Yes, a gorgeous, beautiful evening for the “best of the best” – but not for Mary, as she did not show up!
Early the next morning before school started, I searched for Mary. I found her down a hallway, seemingly pleasant as always and not upset. In fact, I was a little puzzled as to her outwardly happy demeanor. I asked why she had blown off the National Junior Honor Society induction ceremony, as she was one of the “best of the best”?
Mary protested because she wanted to go to the ceremony. Her parents yelled at her and told her that she could not go. Mary, who lived within walking distance of the school, then asked if she could walk to the ceremony and bypass the trip to the hardware store. Not only did her parents continue to yell at her, but they then grounded her for a month!
Well, that is just great. They raised a child who, despite the apparent lack of attention from the parents, appeared to be on the road to success. But they would not support her efforts and then grounded her for pushing the issue! In reality, if Mary had been an awful student and had not qualified for the highest honor of the school, she would not have been grounded. What kind of lesson was that for Mary to learn?
I had called the parents and asked them to come to school to meet with me (it was mid-June at the time). The dad said that he did not have time to meet, but that he would call me over the summer to set up some time. Two weeks later, I learned that the family had moved away, so Mary would not be returning to our school and I would never get the chance to meet with the parents.
As I said at the beginning, DO NOT become like Mary’s parents. Love your kids with everything that you have – they need you!
Out of curiosity, if you could have met with Mary’s parents, what would you have said or asked? Let me know.
Paul W. Reeves