Moving My Clip

At Jonah’s school, they use this type of behavior management chart:


As you can see, each student’s name is written on a clothespin, or “clip” as they call it. Every child starts the day off on green. But misbehavior can lead to the child moving his or her clip to yellow, or even the dreaded red.

The other night, it was very quiet in the house. It used to be that if Jonah was quiet, it meant he was into some serious mischief. Now, it can still mean that, but more often than not, it just means that he’s busy with some activity.

When I found him, he was busy writing on the clothespins he found in the laundry room. When I asked what he was doing, he said, “Every person in this family needs a clip.”

Then he held them out for me to see.



He explained that, instead of a clip chart, he was going to put them on the edge of the white box. If he moved our clip onto the brown box, we were in BIG TROUBLE!

So far, so good…


I asked him what we had to do to get our clip moved, and he said that it was when we were being mean.

“Like, when you won’t take me to McDonald’s or when you tell me I can’t watch TV. That’s not being very nice.”

“It’s not? Oh, OK.”

“Or when Zach and Eli are yelling at each other, they will get their clips moved.”

“They’ll have to move them a lot, then, huh?”

“Yeah,” Jonah said. “There’s a boy in my class who has to move his clip to yellow ALL THE TIME!”

“Really? What does he do that gets him in trouble?”

(I’m expecting to hear something along the lines of arguing with the teacher, teasing other kids, not doing his work, etc.)

“He doesn’t follow directions!”

“What kind of directions doesn’t he follow?”

“Well, Mrs. J tells him not to, but…he eats paper!

And he tells me this so dramatically, with such wide eyes, I can’t help but laugh. Apparently, to him, paper-eating is way worse than any scenario I’d imagined above.

“Wow. Back when I was in kindergarten, kids ate paste. And we didn’t have any clips to move, either.”

“What is paste???”

“Something that really, really old people used instead of glue sticks.”

“Wow. Glue sticks hadn’t been invented yet?”

“No,” I said. Then I adjusted my reading glasses and rolled off in my wheelchair to make a glass of Metamucil, before I said something that would make him move my clip.