My Day in Detention


As of February 10, 2008, the Being a Mom is Great blog has moved here ( Please visit Soapbox Mom to read more articles by this author (bmg mom is now Soapboxmom).


I’m not a big fan of chewing gum.

When I was a kid, the only time I ever served detention was in eighth grade. Standing in the cafeteria, right next to the assistant principal, I cracked my gum…several times. It was a bad habit.

I stopped chewing gum after that and I’ve tried to avoid buying it for my kids. I blame it on the aspartame. “Oh, sorry, can’t buy that. Has aspartame.” Then my kids found this great gum at Trader Joe’s called Glee Gum.

Glee Gum

The gum pieces are small squares, so it’s much better than chewing those huge clumps of bubble gum and it’s not filled with all kinds of weird chemicals. I’m not crazy about Tic Tacs (the flavors seem a little…off to me and I always feel like I need to eat a handful to really satisfy the mint craving), so I thought this would be a good way to deal with coffee breath. I grab the little box whenever I need a little breath freshening. Harmless so far, right?

Well, the other night, the kids and I were driving back from my daughter’s chorus practice. The car was filled with music, chatter, and laughter when suddenly “Crack, pop, crack!” everyone froze. My daughter looked at me and softly asked, “What was that?” We don’t chew much gum in our house. I looked over at her like I was a teenager caught with a beer in her hand. “Uh…well…that? Yeah, well…it must have been part of the song.” She kept looking at me then slowly started grinning — you know, that slow “gotcha” grin. “Noooo, I don’t think so.” Grinning a little more. Then, “Are you chewing gum?” Brief pause. “No, wait, did you just crack your gum?”

They know all about the eighth grade experience. That’s partly why they were surprised I was even chewing it, but cracking it? That was the dirty deed. The black mark. The cause of my detention.

My daughter’s right at that age when she watches everything I do, analyzes it and records it in her “notes of mom” mental diary. I felt as if I could see the little teeny pencil in her head furiously scribbling an addendum.

“Isn’t that what you got detention for? Back in eighth grade?” My daughter is in middle school right now. She can relate.

“Um, well, yes.” It’s funny how memories take us back so much that we almost feel like that little kid all over again. Embarrassed. Humiliated.

Somebody somewhere (I hope!) is probably saying, “What the heck? You just popped chewing gum? What’s the big deal?” It’s all relative, I guess, so just insert your own transgression.

Anyway, so there I am, trapped in a car, in a very awkward moment with the kids wondering what I would say next. Would I spit out the gum and say, “Yeah, boy, I should have learned my lesson back then. It’s just plain rude to the people around me to pop gum. Sorry. Bad example.” and move on? Would I say, “That’s right, kiddo. Never mind! I’m the mom so I can! But you…don’t even think about doing it…ever!”

Nah, I took the middle road.

“Why, yes, I did,” I calmly replied.

Then my son chimes in, “How did you do that??”

So that’s all this is about. They’re fascinated at a new trick they want to learn. Hmm…okay. Different dilemma now. Do I say, “Never mind. You shouldn’t do that, so you don’t need to know.” Or should I teach them how?

I took a deep breath and told myself, “This is where you need to let go. I mean, you work for years and years with your kids to try and instill a sense of good judgment so that one day, when they’re chewing gum, standing next to their assistant principal, they’ll know what to do. They’ll make the right choice. They will have learned from you. Er, well, from your mistake. Even if they’re chewing the forbidden gum and they know how to crack it.”

So, I said, “It’s simple. It’s like blowing a bubble, just backwards. Flatten out the gum with your tongue and your teeth…”



Filed under Children, family, parenting, Thoughts

11 responses to “My Day in Detention

  1. childlife

    Love this post! You’re my kind of mom : ) I have a 5-year-old daughter and I have to say, your phrase, “My daughter’s right at that age when she watches everything I do, analyzes it and records it in her “notes of mom” mental diary…” Well that just scared the socks off of me!!

  2. i’ll never forget my mom teaching me to crack my gum. she used to do it, all the time. i wanted to learn. we were in the car when she explained to me how to do it. when i was in 9th grade…biology class. forbidden to chew gum but, i had to…i had crazy bread for lunch…bad garlic breath. so, by now, cracking gum is habit…oops, not supposed to chew gum in class, let alone crack it. my teacher, mrs. drake, stopped the class and announced that a cow was chewing her cud in the middle of her class. the cow, me. i NEVER chewed gum in school, again. NEVER…no matter how bad my breath was from lunch.
    great post, thanks for sharing.

  3. Thanks for the comment, childlife!

  4. LOL! Melissa, thanks for that!
    I can’t believe that Mrs. Drake!? That’s a horrible thing to say!

    I’m happy to hear your mom taught you (and in the car, too!!).

  5. Fun post! I’ve never even heard of cracking gum. But I’ve never been a gum chewer, so that’s probably why.


    [Hey Summer! It’s not a very attractive habit but, for me, it’s hard to resist doing if you just have a little bit of gum. So I try not to chew gum very much! Good for you that you never even started!! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!]

  6. Funny! Gosh, I hate getting caught in a double standard by my kid.


    [Yeah, exactly, Donna. Was a bit awkward…
    Thanks for your comment!]

  7. That’s the way to be, mom! Hey, they all need to face the principal one time or another in their lives. Why deprive them of the 999 other times when cracking their gum will give them joy?


    [As always, you make a great point, BD!!
    Thanks for commenting.]

  8. I still love cracking my gum, and can’t wait ’till I can teach my girls about it. It’s kind of therapeutic or something. Whistling, too…except I can’t remember how my parents taught me how to whistle. I think it was something like ‘purse your lips together and you have to blow just right. Sarah blows and hums at the same time. It’s so cute. 🙂


    [Sounds adorable, Stephen. Thanks for your comment; it makes me feel a bit better about the whole experience.]

  9. I love that you told your kids that story! Sometimes they need a little ammunition.
    I got detention for blowing bubbles in class…so I was in the same spot!


    [So you understand, right? Thanks for sharing that, Kellyn!]

  10. Enjoyed the post 🙂
    Tough being a mom caught in the middle of commiting an error ( though its just a tiny miny one)
    We live in Singapore and there’s a law against chewing gums ( Can’t buy them anywhere in Singapore) So, I guess my kids will never learn to crack gums 🙂

  11. Joe

    YO! Update this blog! Holla!