Me: "Ellis, You didn't follow instructions on your spelling homework. You were supposed to do at least ten sentences or write a paragraph. You only wrote six sentences."
Ellis: "But I used all the words."
Me: "It's a good thing to be smart, but you have to work hard, too. You have to follow instructions. Do you want to fix this with me tonight?"
Ellis: "No, I'll just turn it in like that."
Me: "Why? Because the quality of your work doesn't matter to you?"
Ells: "No I just think the instructions say something different."
Me: "Well, ask your teacher, and if it's not okay, bring it home again so we can fix it."
Charlie: (chiming up from the back seat) "Hey, Mom! I did my spelling homework all right!"
Ellis: "That's good, Charlie. Then Mom won't kill you."
(We all burst out laughing)