Who is Right and What is Fair?

So we have this rule.  If Dylan doesn’t turn in his assignments on time, he doesn’t race go karts on Sunday.

Go kart racing is his favorite thing in the whole world.

The school has a computerized system, where the teachers enter grades, and we can check those grades at home.  It’s awesome.  If Dylan has a missing assignment, he gets a Z, and the next day, he can go and remedy the situation by turning in whatever is missing.

So today is a Professional Day for Teachers.  Kids are home, teachers are off at a conference somewhere.  And Dylan has TWO Z’s.  So I tell him he can’t race on Sunday.

Dylan is crying.  Dylan says he really turned in his English assignment, for sure, and that it must not be marked.  “I turned it in yesterday!” he says. And he probably did, because he checks Edline every night and diligently takes care of Z’s.  In English, nothing has been updated since Wednesday.  (I follow Edline, too.)

But for his other Z, in social studies, Dylan says the homework assignment was turned in on time.  He just didn’t answer two questions.  He should have gotten a bad grade, he says, because he didn’t finish it, but he definitely turned it in – and he got it back, ungraded, since homework is always ungraded.

It is only marked for completion.  And it wasn’t complete.

“The teacher never told me to finish it and turn it in again!” he says.  He is stomping around like a two-year-old, screaming that it’s “not fair.”

I hold up the sign that says, YOU ARE YELLING.  PLEASE STOP.  (We are still trying not to yell here.)

I believe Dylan.  I believe Dylan thinks he did everything right.  But he did get a Z for incompletion, too.  In his other classes, he gets incomplete answers marked “wrong” instead of incomplete – and oddly, he is fine with that.

Finally, I email the teacher with our quandary.  I call the school, and ask them to leave a message for the teacher at home that we really need an answer to our email ASAP.  I explain the whole thing to the school receptionist, who can’t even imagine that a parent is calling on the kids’ day off.

And now, I am waiting to hear back.  Dylan has stopped crying, sure he will be justified.  I am not so sure.  I think it’s going to go poorly, and the teacher will say he needed to finish that work and turn it back in.  And we’ll have to go through the whole temper-tantrum thing again.

I don’t like the temper-tantrum thing.  I don’t like taking Dylan away from racing.  But this is the rule.  If he has Z’s, he doesn’t race.  And he has Z’s.  I am supposed to be a consistent, disciplining parent.  I am not supposed to give in to temper tantrums.  And I know he’s trying so incredibly hard to get everything in on time.

In this case, is it REALLY his fault?  I have no idea!  I am lost, floundering between knowing the right thing and following the letter of the law.

So I will wait to hear from the teacher, and hope for the best.  It’s going to be a long wait.

Meanwhile, Dylan has created a giant puppet theater that is better than the professionally built one he had as a child.  Shane has set up a video-taping tripod, so the puppet shows can be taped with a single push of a button.  And they are scripting a Sesame-Street-themed puppet show based on You Tube’s infamous Harry Potter Puppet Pals.  The new puppet theater is one of the most creative, wonderful things I’ve ever seen.

How can I be so worried about one piece of paper that may or may not have been turned in on time, when they can do all this?

But I am.  So I will wait.

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