Yes, you read that right. Justin Bieber stopped my son from missing the bus. Before you call Justin and thank him for stepping in and helping me parent, you should get the whole story first…
When my son, Carl, was in the 4th grade, he starting dragging in the morning and missed the bus a few times. I tried the usual “Mommy Money” fines and such, but he was still missing the bus more and more. It was time to raise the stakes.
At the time, Justin Bieber was a huge hit with the preteen girls. Guess who he wasn’t a hit with? You got it–preteen boys. Girls loved Justin Bieber. Boys saw him as a nemesis. Mom saw him as an opportunity. I went to Wal-Mart and bought the largest little girl’s shirt with Justin on the front. It was fabulous. If I was 45 years younger, I would have worn it. (On second thought, if I didn’t like David Cassidy, I doubt Justin would have been my cup of tea either.) I showed it to my son and said, “The next time you miss the bus, you will wear this Justin Bieber shirt to school.” I then stashed it in a safe hiding spot so it wouldn’t be found and destroyed. Mom doesn’t play. He knew I meant it and stopped missing the bus. If he was dragging and in danger of missing the bus, I brought Justin out and paraded him around like a new Easter dress. When Justin came out, boys sped up. (I threatened my younger son with Justin too.)
Spring came and then summer. Carl never missed the bus again in the 4th grade. Now if that was the end of the story it would seem anti-climatic, wouldn’t it? It would be boring if it ended there… It didn’t… Fifth grade came and Justin came out of his summer hiding. And then, one cold October morning, it happened. CARL MISSED THE BUS.
It wasn’t an idle threat. Mom doesn’t make those. Guess who had to put on the tiny little girls’ Justin Bieber shirt–a tall, thinking-he-is-cool-and-all-that, 5th-grade boy–Carl. It was agonizing. He whined. He almost cried. I stifled my laughter. I didn’t want to laugh and he didn’t want to go to school. He tried to wear a hoodie over it. Not happening. He actually put his book bag on the front of his body. Not happening. My husband drove him to school and escorted him inside. Hoodie at home. Backpack on his back and into his locker (school rules keep backpacks in the locker).
Since I thought it may be disruptive, I jotted a quick email to explain the situation to the teacher. I told him Carl may eventually borrow a shirt and or turn it inside-out and that was okay since he had to walk into school and into his class and therefore the intended consequence had occurred. He applauded my creativity (yea me!) and later emailed to say Carl was uncomfortable, but kept the shirt on all day. I knew Carl was high enough on the 5th grade food chain that there would not be any permanent damage to his ego or his imagined cool-kid status.
Carl and Justin came home that day no worse for the wear. Well… Justin was a bit worse for the wear. Carl and his buddies had fun scribbling all over his face and I’m okay with that. Justin took one for the team and Carl didn’t miss the bus for the rest of the year.