Sunday, October 18, 2009

EPIC Failure.

I remember when I was a Freshman in High School. Admittedly boy crazy but still trying to please, I at least attempted to get decent grades. It was long before they announced Parent/Teacher Conferences and I asked my mother is she planned on attending ...

Her answer was no. She had spent soo much (think an exhausting amount of time) time at the school already, for years, with my brother (think special needs) that she had had enough of it. Unless they specifically asked, she wasn't going.

My teenage brain viewed that as her not caring about me. But as I got older I understood myself what and effort it is to deal with teachers and the school system. But, as an aside, her uncaring attitude at that time made me tank on school for a couples of years. So my vote is that she should have stayed involved.

Not my point here anyway. Last, week. For two days. Parent/Teacher conferences. I always try to go into it with an open mind. My daughter says I'm not a nag. She actually tells this to her friends, shocking, I know. I corrected her. I am an "opportunistic nag". Choosing certain times (like in the car, oh how I love a captive audience!) to state my case about what needs to get done.

So I took a deep breath ... went into the High School to hear about my fifteen year old girl's progress in her Sophomore year. Her English Teacher, and the one who she swears is so incredibly boring and lecture, lecture, lecture, was so animated and seemed so kind to me. She was very enthusiastic about my girl and her work. Her French Teacher (a wispy of girl with big green eyes and so YOUNG!) shared how much progress my girl has made in her class. I, in turn, complimented the teacher for teaching her the French names for household items. (and we can also count to ten) The Current Events Teacher was hunky. (what? that too is a word!) If I were a fifteen year old in his class, I'd be having ... well you know ... thoughts other than current events in that class. Anyway, more of doing fine. The worst was U.S. History. The title ALONE screams boring. Mr. Nerdy teacher there. His comments were that she seems tired in class. (she has admitted to me that she feel asleep in his class, oh my!) She is also missing homework, which we both agreed is unacceptable. And that was that.

The next night. And yes, two nights in a row of leaving the house a little bit before six to beat the parent rush to the classrooms and get myself signed in. It takes at least an hour, if you are lucky, to see all the teachers.

My son. ~shakes head back and forth~

In addition to what I'm going to list out, all his teachers, talked about seeing the same things, behavior wise in class. Such as sitting like a pretzel or a bendaroo, anything but the way the other students are sitting. (although he's perfected it enough that he no longer falls out of his chair, which I guess is saying something). Reading a comic book. Zoning out.

Some of you may remember how he was diagnosed with ADD but a very mild case of it, he took medication until almost the end of last year, when he asked to stop taking it. He kept insisting that it wasn't working for him (we tried a few different types) and didn't want to bother with it. His grades were good ... I agreed.

Now ...

The first teacher I see is for English and Reading. My daughter had her as a teacher and she thinks its neat to have her brother also. She sits me down and explains that she will work extra with him to pass this Standardized Testing. I guess in the practice test he didn't understand the directions (more like didn't follow the directions, which was also an ongoing theme). Overall he's doing well in her class.

The next teacher I saw was Social Studies. I really like this teacher she's fun, she's entertaining and she had to look me in the eye and tell me how my son, who she thinks is a very bright boy, isn't following instructions, so he's loosing points on projects AND he's missing homework.

At this point, I am so bummed. Here I am, by myself, listening to how my son is failing, feeling like a failure. Not that I really believe that ... but it's hard to listen to your child's shortcomings.

Science was next. He expressed concern about homework but told me he appeared to understand the material but wasn't really applying himself. I nodded politely and told him I'd look into the missing homework.

The utmost worst was Math. Sitting in there with the teacher looking at poor grades. My child. My boy. My pride and joy ... D MINUS ... his grade is a D -

This part I am not getting at all. I am asking questions, like is he not understanding the materials?? is she seeing his work? does he need extra help? She tells me he does understand and she does see. HE GETS IT. He had to put together a packet of worksheets. Over the course of a week ... do the assignment each night ... at the end of the week ... he didn't have those sheets to turn in. She asked the next Monday, still no, finally she asked him what his plan was ... and he told he that he did not have the worksheets and that he would take a ZERO.

~Dramatically bangs head on keyboard ~ yelling out loud in frustration ~

Where do you suppose those sheets went? Who takes a zero? I know it's not the teacher's fault but I hate dragging out information. Just tell me. I'll deal with it. I finally just ask her straight out, if he's totally understands it, but is too lazy to put the effort into the class and is disorganized.

She just nodded her head like that was exactly it. And then I ate her face. Because I have always, always hated math. The cards already stacked against her. She's telling me bad things about my boy. It's easier to believe it's her. She doesn't like him.

But really? GADS, my boy is lazy. He's so quick to do chores for me, open doors, bring in groceries, take out the trash, but he does it at WARP speed and it involves leaving the garage door open, the car door open or putting the trash just inside the door instead of in a trash can.

Half-Assed. School work is no different. The quicker he can get it done the better.

I came home from that and cried my eyes out. Bawled. Inconsolable. My boy knew something was up and followed me around for a little while. I finally told it like it was. Basically his LIFE WAS OVER for the moment and by the way ... GO DO YOUR HOMEWORK while you are at.

Then I cried myself to sleep. When your child is doing well ... teachers praise you ... they say what a good parent you are ... but when your child is having problems ... (or say ... is very smart but not applying themselves AT ALL) ... you don't hear any of that. You get looks of pity from the teachers. You get the small nods and tight lipped answers and it sucks.

Life in the house right now, isn't fun.


Amy said...

Ahh, yes. We are raising twins. And I have cried those very same tears.

First of all BIG HUGS FOR YOU. Because this isn't about YOU.

But I know that's hard to accept.

I don't have an answer. The only thing I have done that sort of remotely works is to tie schoolwork (which he seems to not care about) to something that he cares about IMMENSELY. So that, for now at least, while he might not see the value in the math worksheets or getting something done on time, he will do it because he values his ipod and his computer and his freedom (and eating...)

It doesn't change the apathy. But at least things get done. And maybe he's going to have to have a teacher sign a planner each day so you know he's written down exactly what's due and you'll have to babysit him and check it all for awhile.

But promise me, if you find a solution, a quick fix, a sure-all, TELL ME!!

jenny said...

Aw man.

Sounds like a bit of micromanaging is in your future. I do the same as Amy...tie it all in with the stuff that is near and dear to my boy's heart.

We have the agenda book/planner thing going on at all grade levels...parents & teachers aren't required to sign in Middle School but that may be a good route to take...

Sassy said...


You may think the teachers are judging you, but you know were there, you cared enough to be there, and you will see that your son does better. That my friend, is a GOOD PARENT!

Hang in there!