No Lifeguard on Duty

A week or so ago I wrote a post about Number 4 and how she was feeling conflicted about continuing to play the saxophone in band in school.

This was a tough call for me because 1) she’s talented,  2) she LOVED it last year and 3) I  think, like many of us, she may regret quitting down the road.

I did learn that some of the factors involved in her sudden change of heart were  1) adjusting to a new teacher 2 ) knowing that kids who weren’t in band or chorus are in “activity period where you get to do fun stuff like play kickball and watch movies, and 3) having to walk home uphill (it is actually all uphill — but not that far ) and 4) discovering that you get an actual letter grade in band now which changed it from a “fun” thing to more of a you-have-to-do-this kind of thing in her mind.

Ultimately, I left the decision up to her.

And I’m super happy that she decided to stick with it.

Number 4 is a very strong student, very responsible, and very independent.

I rarely have to help her with homework, and she’s always on top of what she needs to do.

But she has been having some trouble remembering to take her saxophone to school, and she needs it every Tuesday and Thursday.

Last week on Wednesday afternoon she said to me, “Mom! you have to remind me to take my saxophone to school tomorrow!!!”

I could have done that.

But first of all, I know myself, and I would have forgotten.

Secondly, if I remind her, then she will never learn to be responsible for remembering it herself.

So we talked about what she could do to help herself.

She usually keeps it in her room, and we decided it might help to put it by the door in the mudroom where she goes out to get the bus every morning.

So she did that.

On Thursday morning a couple minutes after Number 3 and 4 left to get on the bus, I went into the mudroom. And this is what I saw:


Okay, so first I saw the saxophone still sitting there.

Now that I look at the picture I see that the rug seriously needs to be vacuumed. But that’s another story.

Anyway, when my phone rang about ten minutes later, I knew exactly who it was.

When it rang fifteen minutes after that, I knew exactly who it was again.

We live literally less than a quarter mile up the road from Number 4’s school.

I could have dropped off the saxophone easily.

And I did feel bad. Because Number 4 is responsible when it comes to her stuff and she’s super independent.

But the saxophone is kind of becoming a chronic issue. This was the third time in a month that she’d forgotten.

If I rescued her, she’d learn nothing, and she’d develop no strategies to help herself in the future.

She’d get a C- for that class. It would be her third C- and it would affect her grade.

In every other class she has an A+.

Her perfect grades would be ruined! I didn’t want to do that to her!

Then I pulled my head out of my ass.


First of all, the last time I went into the school (when she sanded the shit out of her finger in tech ed class and the nurse called), I walked into the office and there were three teachers standing there staring at me and I had just finished a run and I was sweaty and disgusting and I thought they were horrified by either how I looked or how I smelled and then they all said in unison “We love your blog!” and then one of them whispered, “especially the one about how it’s your job to make sure your kid isn’t and a-hole” and I was like HOLY SHIT — I was both shocked and a little embarrassed and  not sure exactly what to say  and then I was like If I drop off Number 4’s saxophone after all the shit I’ve written on here and any of those teachers see me they’re gonna think I’m a total loser and a hypocrite.

So I remembered that. And then I also remembered that Number 5 is in fifth grade and who gives a flying fuck about her grades.

She’s ten.

What matters is that she develops the skills she needs to be completely self reliant.

Not an A+ average.

So she called one more time.

I never answered the phone.

I thought about her being stressed. I thought about her maybe walking to the front lobby of the school and checking hoping to see that the saxophone had been delivered to school and then having that sinking feeling when it wasn’t there.

I didn’t want her to feel bad.

But I also didn’t want her to keep forgetting her damn saxophone.

So I left it sitting right where she left it.

And you know what?

It’s Saturday now and she’s fine. She wasn’t scarred for life. She wasn’t traumatized. She won’t end up on the stripper pole in eight years because I didn’t rescue her.

But I’ll wager a whole buttload of money that on Tuesday when she leaves the house for school, she won’t forget to take her saxophone with her.

And that’s the ultimate goal, right? Accountability and responsibility.

Don’t rescue your kids!

Natural Consequences. Positive Discipline. Give it a try.



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2 replies
  1. Nora
    Nora says:

    Wow – I teach band – and I have give you 👋👋👋👋 I ask my teachers and office staff to, “just say no” to the instrumental request. I tell parents, who make excuses for their children – “you don’t play the instrument, it is your child’s job to remember!!


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