The clue is in the title!
Moving swiftly on, I've just started re-reading "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie. It's over SEVENTY years since it was first published, and it's still in print! You can't beat it for good, honest psychology. Principle 1 is: ahem, "Don't criticise, condemn or complain." Apparently, if you do this, the other person is put on the defensive and will always try to justify themselves. I've decided to read one chapter every night, and then to really try and put the theories into practise, at least for the following day and see how I get on.
Well, this one has worked already. Dear Son (14) has been in trouble at school. One of his merry band, a lad called Andy, squirted an ink cartridge at the teacher as she was writing on the blackboard (who'd be a teacher?) and blamed Nick. Being his mother, I wasn't sure I believed this version of events, but I was summoned to telephone the teacher this morning and explain his behaviour. It was obvious I needed to know for sure how involved Nick was. My instinct was to start laying into his friend for getting him in trouble, but I remembered to listen to Dale - don't criticise, condemn or complain.
It was a stroke of genius! I just said that I was surprised that Andy had gotten him into trouble with the teacher, as I'd always thought he was a nice lad. That was it - full confession! If I'd spoken to the teacher not knowing that they had both been guilty as charged, I'd have felt a complete twit.
One long-ish conversation with the teacher later (in French, in case you're wondering - I adore my children at times like this!) it was decided that Dear Son would be PUT IN DETENTION FOR ONE HOUR! I tried to get him two hours (at least) but she said the stain had washed out and I was just being unreasonable, but would I please speak to him over the weekend and try to get him to GROW UP! Might take longer than a weekend then! He's also going to lose his mobile phone for a few days to give him chance to think, instead of constantly texting his friends. In my day, if anybody wanted to speak to me on the phone (forget texting - it didn't exist!) they had to speak to my dad first - that was enough to put anybody off!
Wonder what tonight's principle is?