April Jeppson: Don’t forget to wear your jacket to school

Published 7:03 pm Thursday, March 28, 2019

Every Little Thing by April Jeppson

April Jeppson


It was right before bedtime, and I asked my kids if they had a chance to play outside at recess that day. It was the nicest day of the week. My children all said, “yes” and ran off to finish getting ready for bed, except for my son. He stood there holding back tears. I asked him what was wrong, and he mumbled something about not wearing a jacket and started crying.

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My initial thought was concern. Oh, no someone hit him at recess. Someone took his jacket. Someone made my son cry — and someone will pay.

I asked him to tell me what happened.

He told me that he doesn’t get to have recess tomorrow and has to sit in the principal’s office because he didn’t wear a jacket outside for recess today. Um, what? So I made him tell me again. Same answer.

OK, hold on. I know his teacher. She’s a reasonable human. She’s not just throwing around noon detentions out of boredom. There must be more to this, so I dig deeper.

“Did she tell you to wear a jacket?”


“Then after she told everyone, you chose not to listen and didn’t wear a jacket?”


“OK, buddy. When your teacher tells you to do something, you need to listen and do what they ask.” But other kids didn’t wear jackets, and they get to go to recess tomorrow.

Hans, I’m not talking to the other children. I’m talking to you. You don’t know what the teacher said to them or what their punishment is, and honestly it doesn’t matter. You were told to do something and you chose not to listen.

My son is sobbing. Just devastated. For a fourth-grade boy, taking away recess is huge. My son is also pretty tender, and now he’s convinced his teacher doesn’t like him (because she “scolded” him — his words). He’s also giving himself a panic attack thinking about how his parents are going to be angry or disappointed in him as well.

I smile, tell him I love him, that his teacher doesn’t hate him and that I’m not mad. I then tell him the story about how I got my lunch recess taken away when I was in fifth grade. And finally I reiterate that we need to learn that when a teacher tells you to do something, you need to do it.

My initial reaction to all of this was confusion and that I should probably call the teacher or principal because there is no way that my sweet, precious little, boy deserved lunch detention. I mean, have you met my son? He’s an angel!

Then I put down my momma bear instincts for a moment and put on my teacher’s cap. I use to be a cosmetology instructor and currently I coach gymnastics. I’ve seen my share of angry, usually uninformed moms storming into my office. These parents are so blinded by their love for their child that they never stopped to think, hey, maybe the adult in this situation had a reason to respond the way they did. Maybe my child actually made a mistake.

I think it’s good that my son got in trouble this week. Whether it was warranted, I don’t think matters. It’s good for kids to have to deal with situations like this when they are young. It’s good for things to not go their way every once in awhile so they can learn how to manage their feelings and their responses.

How cool would the world be if every time we got scolded or chastised or corrected, we were humble enough to accept it. We were able to take the criticism with grace and then use this information to make a change in ourselves — if we stopped momma bearing ourselves for a moment and tried to see the big picture.

I talked to my son the next morning before school to see if he’d calmed down a bit. He had. He’d come to terms with the fact that he’d miss recess. He was still bummed, but that’s OK. He wasn’t crying or angry or telling me how unfair the world was. He put on his jacket, happily raced his sister to the car and went to school.

“The only real mistake is the one in which we learn nothing.” — John Powell

Albert Lean April Jeppson is a wife, mom, coach and encourager of dreams.