Rehabilitated truant Suz is on the top right.

Poetic justice, noun, The rewarding of virtue and the punishment of vice, often in an especially appropriate or ironic manner.  A literary device.  Think “what comes around goes around.”

Justice, noun, Giving to each what he or she is due.

Justice v. Poetic Justice: the key difference is irony.  Read on.

Last May we learned that our precious Suz had skipped or been late to “home room” 32 times.  Even though the number later fell to 23, we still found her lack of commitment to following rules … troubling.  This incident followed her receiving an “F” one grading period in band for not following those rules, too.  Many punishments thereafter ensued, in our pursuit of justice and learning.  We grounded her, she performed slave labor at home, I wrote about her on this blog, we asked the school to increase her “consequences” by requiring she attend a Saturday “detention,” and she did community service.

Imagine our surprise when the band director who had given her an F the previous year selected Suz for his elite 30-member band for 2010-2011, the top band in her performing arts magnet middle school.

Surely, a mistake?


The director forgave her rebellion in favor of her talent and improved behavior.  Lucky kid.  She’s responded beautifully to his faith, though.  I can’t believe she is the same surly girl who begged to quit flute last year.

But was this justice?

Well, let’s call it the just result of a miscreant fully punished and rehabilitated.

Our next surprise came when she learned the identity of the teacher she would have for history class: it was “THE” home room teacher she had manipulated and abused so shamelessly last year.  Someone must have paired Suz with this teacher deliberately, to see Suz squirm.  And squirm she did, but she still wrote an apology-and-pledge note to her, promising perfect attendance and attitude.

The teacher informs me, “so far, super-fantastic in both regards.”

Huh?  Can we even be sure this is our daughter?  (Well, it has only been three weeks)

I believe this is a small serving of poetic justice.

Suz also learned that the school stuck her in an “enrichment” class,” a special program for those needing a lot of extra help in academics, even though as a pre-advanced placement student she needs little help.  This  occurred due to a conflict in her schedule that prevented her from taking one of the classes she really wanted.

Methinks this is another side dish of poetic justice for her previous behavior.

But a champion came to her rescue.  The Principal who had called me at home to report Susanne’s truancy last May maneuvered Suz into a journalism/graphics class, which is now her favorite one.  I appreciated the Principal volunteering to help, and I am satisfied that this is the just result in light of Susanne’s post-malfeasance rehab program, even though I am the same mean mom who called for her head last May when Johnston didn’t want to punish her for the attendance issue.

The final sign of her successful rehabilitation into responsible 8th grade society, and the main course of poetic justice the universe called for in her situation:

The Attendance Counselor asked Suz to be her aide.

OK, we all see the irony here, right?  Suz now works in the Attendance office every day for one hour.  The kicker?  She loves it.  And the Attendance Counselor loves her.  Go figure.

Parenting lessons learned: Your kids only say they’ll hate you forever when you ground them, put them on work detail, ask their school to put them in Saturday detention, and write about them on your blog.  The universe often provides the perfect consequence.  And the teachers and administrators at Johnston Middle School in Houston, Texas rock.

Justice demands one last punishment: publication of this photo.

There. Now I can completely forgive her for the whole 23-skipped-classes incident.


p.s. Susanne and I struck a deal that I would only write about her on my blog twice a year.  So y’all don’t tell her about this post.  🙂

p.p.s. The ultimate in “what comes around goes around”: Suz is MY daughter.  Every time she curls her lip into her adolescent snarl and back talks me in that beeyatchy voice, I hear my mother, yelling at me through her tears.  “I hope you have a daughter just like you someday.”   Well, I did.  And there is no one happier about it than Mom.