The Mandatory Carrot: apologize to the principal?


The Mandatory Carrot –


The Mandatory Carrot –

This time my offering is a question, in the end.  Thing 1 got caught in a “fib.”  Volunteering for lunch, the ladies said to me “Oh, we loved that interview that he did with you about working in the kitchen!  Yeah, it was published by the 5th grade.”  Uh-oh. He never interviewed me.  “Everybody’s talking about his article The Mandatory Carrot!”

If the kids refuse salad, I give them a mandatory carrot slice.  After three weeks, I realized grades 1-3 may not know what “mandatory” means.  So I defined it, now I also call it required, necessary, the minimum vegetable required.  One first-grader has fallen in love with carrots.  Mission accomplished. But back to the article about it.

I called Thing 1 into the school kitchen: “You know what (grand)Pa says about a lie, right?  You always get caught, right? Well, the ladies told me they loved my interview published in the 5th-grade paper…” Goes white, then red.  “We’ll talk later.”  And during lunch, I was extra jovial to ensure he’d eat.  Talked a bit on drive home, then talked with Running Mate and we told Thing 1:  You need to apologize to your teacher.

Hysterical weeping. Can’t we just go with the flow? Move on? I wanted to.  It was painful for both of us. How creative to write fiction instead, it’s still writing. (Remember, I am a DOTING parent.)  But.

Will is a hardass, but you have to come clean.  It wasn’t Will.  Tanya? No; it was  Dorota.  The principal. Yikes.

Running mate suggested actually doing the interview, so he could apologize and hand Dorota the actual assignment.  Hysterics, throwing things.  Eventually he did the interview. But now what?

Is it too much to ask a 10-year-old to apologize to the school principal?  Even at his progressive hippie school where the adults are all called by their first names, the power differential is real, vast, important. Is this humility or humiliation? What would YOU do?


12 thoughts on “The Mandatory Carrot: apologize to the principal?

  1. I’m not sure. There aren’t a lot of details here to fill in the what and why-fors. For sure, I would have sat down with him to figure out what felt so important about telling that story in the first place, how the tale became too long to begin with. Since there seems to be some thread of truth to it, did he MEAN to tell a lie or did a truth get stretched so far that it gobbled the little guy up? Ten is an age where stories and feeling important get out of control and there is a lot to be learned from these experiences. Should he make amends? Yes, But, the how is what I’m not so sure about- if it was one of those accidental got way out of control things, I might have helped him figure out how to get that stretched out monster wrestled back into the truthful version and then gone in with him to support him in his apology. Kids need to know we have their back when they are trying to do the right thing. Otherwise- they start hiding from us as well as others.


    • Ah, Wendi, thank you. In the end, my ‘running mate’ went in with him to speak to the principal (who assigned him to interview me, but he faked it). But you’re right to point out that we need to talk to him more about why he faked it. He said he couldn’t fit it in, but I need to unpack that with him. Thank you so much for commenting. I’m off to add another sentence or two to make the plot clearer for folks that don’t actually live in my house, ha ha. Thanks again! Angela


  2. Yeah, that’s a tough one. I think I would definitely focus on the “why” of the fake, rather than the fact of the fake. Why did he feel the need to fake it? Was he embarrassed? Did he forget to do it on time and rather than admitting it just rushed it off? As the mom of an almost 9 year old boy, I’m learning a lot about how kids view things (has it been THAT long?). While I’m not totally sure what I would have done, I think that I probably would have had him complete the project properly and then helped him deliver it to the principle with an apology. Kids definitely need to know that we have their backs, but they also need to know that we expect them to be honest and ethical. Getting away with something might feel good at first, but then, well, it doesn’t. Good luck!


    • Good point, and I now need to go back and do that now that the intensity is off. He did complete the interview, on “Running Mate’s” suggestion, and apologize. I was impressed that the Principal said “If you were a reporter, you know you would be fired for that, right?” so he can see what he’s shooting for as an adult, you know? Honesty and stability. So thanks for your comment, I’m going to raise it again with him when we are alone. Thank you for reading. xx Angela


  3. I agree with both ladies. Kids do need to know we have their back and they do need to realize that if they lie about something that they take a risk at getting caught and dealing with the circumstances that come along with it. Ah, life lessons and growing up. We’ve all been there ourselves. It makes it harder though as Mom’s to watch our kid’s having to learn them the hard way.


    • That’s right, Wanda! It seemed agonizing to watch him be so overwrought with real tears and anger. It wasn’t easy or fun to coach him to do the right thing, but I do hope he learned x2 for having done it the wrong way and then being caught and having done it properly. Thank you for stopping by the blog! xx Angela


  4. I would have him apologize for sure. A lie is a lie, no matter what. Then find out why and work on restitution by doing the interview. I know he is young and didn’t kill anyone, but a strong moral compass installed early goes a long way. Pulling something like that with an employer wouldn’t work out so well. I’m a hardass with values and my kids don’t need to question where I stand. And, I’m a softee and cry with them as they stand up to their Goliath and do the right thing.


    • Thank you, Aly. I love your comment “a strong moral compass installed early goes a long way” and I’m going to hold to that. I’m totally a softee, and it hurt to see him so upset, but we did have him apologize, and the 5th-grade paper is going to print a correction. Hopefully we won’t have to do THAT again. With him anyway. Thanks for stopping by the blog!


  5. all actions have consequences but finding the balance is so tricky and sounds like you’ve handled it well and managed to find that balance. I would have dealt with it initially then let the dust settle and in a few weeks time go back and revisit it in an exploratory kind of way. Not sure I’m making myself too clear here but you know me and I know you know what i mean.


    • ah, yes, I do know what you mean! I’ve asked him, after a pause, what happened and not pleased with the vague answer so will ask again over the winter break. Thank you, as always, for stopping by the blog and especially for your comments. Best,


  6. Okay so, I’m a little behind the curve here… I totally agree with all of you smart women and Angela, I’m sure you did/will do the right thing. But, you have to admit, your kid is pretty savvy! It takes a pretty smart and creative kid to pull that off! Just sayin’… 😉


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