I am pretty sure that every parent’s nightmare is getting a call from the school principal. Sure, spontaneous vomit and illness at school is to be expected. But, the dreaded call for when your child has done something reprehensible? Nobody wants that.

Up until now, our kids have gotten into small trouble. Nothing major. A number of notes home for silly infractions. Like when Violet switched names with another girl for their substitute teacher, or when Jasper refused to play a game he didn’t like in gym class.

This time however, it was the big cheese. The principal called to tell us that Violet got into a fight. Just to remind you, Violet is 9. This was bad. Oh, and also Jasper had gotten into a fight. Not one call, but two calls with one phone. Both of our kids had gotten into a fight on the same day.

With each other.

I guess that could be worse.

It turned out that after a rousing game of four square, Violet cheated, and Jasper got angry. Violet slapped Jasper and the slap fight was on. Both kids were wrong. Violet for cheating and Jasper for resorting to violence.

So, the call came in. The principal was actually amused by it, I think. She doled out the “no more four square for a week” punishment. My wife and I discussed it and decided that was woefully inadequate. We came up a great plan.

Putting the plan in motion

5pm rolled around and Violet and Jasper strolled through the front door. I asked the usual questions, “How was your day?” etc. Then, I moved in for the kill:

“Is there anything you guys want to tell me?”

Works every time. They cracked instantaneously. The whole story came out (other than the part about Violet cheating). (Or about Jasper throwing the first slap.) Eventually, I got it out of them though. Then I laid down the punishment.

First, Violet needs to write a 100-word letter to Jasper outlining A) what she did wrong, B) what she could have done differently, and C) 3 things she loves about Jasper.

Second, Jasper needs to write a 100-word letter to Violet outlining A) what he did wrong, B) what he could have done differently, C) 3 things he loves about Violet.

Third, Violet and Jasper need to jointly author a letter to the principal apologizing for their actions.

They both paused and accepted the punishment. But then I doubled down, and this is the best part.

If we got a phone call from the school again, then I would have two t-shirts made. Each would feature a picture of one sibling along with the three favorite things from the other. Then, they would each have to wear the other shirt to school. Boom.

An hour later, the letters were done and they both really enjoyed reading them. We will see if it holds up…

I’ve got the t-shirt designs ready to go.


Do your kids forget to use forks and dig into the ice cream bare-knuckled…well no more – check out our manners cards!

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