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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 25, 2005 / 14 Adar II, 5765

Playground lessons tough, like asphalt

By Marybeth Hicks


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | My son's chin quivers, his lower lip and thin voice trembling as he speaks. "This was the second-worst day of fifth grade," he says, climbing into the van. His eyes pool with tears, but he's trying hard to choke them back.

"Wow. That's bad," I sympathize. The first-worst day happened just a week ago, when his basketball team lost a one-point game and was eliminated from the post-season tournament. That was a bad day. I can only imagine what this one entailed.

"I had to go to Mr. J.'s office," he confesses. My son begins a lengthy — if somewhat disjointed — explanation of a playground scuffle that includes a stolen basketball, repeated pleas for its return and the use of the word "sissy."

I listen intently as I pull out of the after-school pickup line and turn into the parking lot. "Let's go inside to see Mr. J., and you can both tell me what happened."

Clearly, if I'm going to get any accurate information, I'll need an adult perspective. Not to mention, my son's not exactly objective. He wouldn't last 30 seconds in Bill O'Reilly's "No Spin Zone."

"Mr. J." — "The J. Man," "The J. Dawg," students have many names for him — is the assistant principal. His job includes a wide range of roles, from disciplinarian to mediator to sounding board. Melees on the playground are one of his specialties.

When we knock on his door, Mr. J. waves us in, and we take seats around the small table in the center of his office. We all agree that getting in a fight at lunchtime is out of character for my son, who, though not a pacifist, is wise enough to see there are unpleasant consequences to the rough-and-tumble life — such as pain.

My son reiterates, rephrases, revises and repeats his version of the story, which essentially puts him in the role of misguided advocate for the "victim," his buddy Michael. Michael "had the ball first," "didn't do anything" and "was only standing there." This doesn't explain why my son felt the need to hold back Michael and the other boy involved in the mishap to keep them from pounding the stuffing out of each other.

We discuss whether my son had alternatives to diving into a fistfight. I suggest that because the adult supervisor on the playground saw the entire incident, perhaps my son could have called on him to help rather than assume the role of "recess vigilante."

My son tries again to replay the skirmish, as though a more thorough explanation will help me understand why his response was reasonable. Mr. J. says things like, "It sounds like you wanted to defuse the situation. That's good. But what else could you have done besides get in the middle of a fight?"

Mr. J. explains that my son and the other boys must complete a "Think Sheet," a worksheet designed to reassess one's actions and devise a plan for the future that avoids playground combat. They also will serve as table washers in the cafeteria for a week, a natural consequence because it cuts their playtime short.

When we get up to leave his office, Mr. J. says, "Every mistake is a learning opportunity." He's a big fan of "the teachable moment," and thank goodness, because his days are filled with them.

My son slumps his shoulders forward and hangs his head low as we walk back to the van. "Why are you so upset?" I ask him. It's clear the assistant principal believes he meant well, even though he made a bad decision. "Everybody makes mistakes."

He can't really articulate his feelings, but I get that he's sad because he believes he was unjustly accused. "I didn't do anything," he keeps saying, though clearly he did do something. The part where he admits shoving another boy shows there obviously is an infraction, and I'm the kind of mom who believes there's always more to the story than what I hear.

On the drive home, we talk about the difference between actions and intentions — a key concept when teaching accountability. "Nobody can judge your intentions," I explain. "You might have been thinking, 'Here's my chance to win a Nobel Peace Prize by breaking up this fight,' but the playground monitor can't read your mind. He can only watch you jump in the middle of an argument and assume that's what you meant to do."

I tell him I believe he meant to break up the fight, but that ultimately, he's accountable for his actions. He stares out the window and heaves a resigned sigh.

I decide to cheer him up. "And anyway," I point out, "there's no way this was the second-worst day in fifth grade. It's not nearly as bad as the day you gave your speech in social studies and you were the only person without note cards or a visual aid." Somehow, he's not uplifted.

Later that night, he brings me the completed Think Sheet and a pen so I can sign it. He has described his actions, his intentions and his alternatives for the future in a way that tells me he understands what he did wrong.

I give him an encouraging smile and say, "Let's make this the last trip to Mr. J.'s office, OK?"

But I know better. There are too many teachable moments in his future to keep him from visiting "The J. Dawg." .

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Marybeth Hicks, a wife of 17 years and mother of four children, lives in the Midwest. She uses her column to share her perspective on issues and experiences that shape families nationwide. To comment, please click here.


Puzzling parenting
Mom leads — and reads — by example
Mom may be the happiest camper
What the dog knows about parenting
TSubbing turns mom into fly on the wall
The hard work of bringing up geeks
What if teenagers made the rules?
Sage advice to a mom about Instant Messaging




© 2005, Marybeth Hicks

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