“Landon, you didn’t finish the ‘Excellent Elections’ assignment for Social Studies. Your grade’s down to a D minus. You’ve got a 0/45 in the grade book. What’s up?”
Landon turned around from the computer he was working at and stared at me. He was frowning, concentrating.
“It was due yesterday,” I reminded him. “You had two days in class this week to get it done.”
Landon grinned. “My bad.”
“Noooo. That’s not going to cover this. Why isn’t it done?”
Landon’s eyes widened. “I didn’t know that was due this week.”
I swept my hand over to the homework board. “Excellent Elections – due Thursday” was still written on the whiteboard.
“But I didn’t see that,” Landon wailed.
I walked over to Landon’s notebooks sitting on the desk. “And you should have written it in your planner.” I flipped through the pages to yesterday’s date. “You should have written it right . . .” I stopped. “Oh look. It is written down. Due Thursday, just like we said.”
“But I didn’t know how to do it,” Landon moaned.
His last remark caught Mrs. Oliver’s attention from across the room. She was the para in his Social Studies class. Her head popped up like a chipmunk’s.
“Landon!” she said. “I asked you several times in class if you needed any help and you always told me you knew how to do it and you didn’t want me helping you.”
Landon winked one eye and pointed to Mrs. Oliver. “True dat!”
Mrs. Oliver and I exchanged glances. Landon reverted to “gangsta” talk when he was running out of options.
“So you knew when it was due, and how to do it,” I summarized.
Landon pursed his lips together. His eyes narrowed and darted back and forth. Then, “I tried to do it last night, but the internet was down at our house.”
“All night?” I asked. “The internet was down at your house all last night?”
“No.” Pause. “Just a little. But my dad said I had to go to bed when it came back on.”
How far is he going to take this?
“Did you tell your dad you hadn’t finished your homework?”
“Yes.” Pause. “No.” Pause. “What?”
I slowly enunciated. “What did you tell your dad last night?”
Landon stared back several seconds and then slowly began to smile. “I told him I finished it.”
I gave Landon a long sober stare. “What do you think he’ll say when he gets the update on your grades Monday morning.”
His smile slowly faded. A sad little puppy looked back.
“He’s not going to like that you lied to him,” I added.
His eyes suddenly widened. “You won’t tell him will you?”
“No. You’re going to tell him.” I opened up the grade book on my computer and clicked the tab that showed contact information. “And you’re going to tell him now.” I located his dad’s phone number, and began punching the numbers in on the phone.
“You know,” I continued, “If your dad’s going to get bad news, it’s better coming from you than an email.”
Man up kiddo. You’ll probably be giving your dad a lot worse news than this in the years ahead.
Now Landon was desperate. “When he finds out I lied, he won’t let me go to Ramon’s birthday party tomorrow.”
True dat, I thought. True dat.