Monday, August 03, 2009

Still Learning

My son is not a great student. He has never been the straight A’s kid, or gets 100% all the time, and like his pop writes more legibly with his feet.

With that, he is always respectful, his teachers love him, and tell us how much potential he has if he applied himself. This is exactly what I used to hear from my teachers when I was in school except that I would have F’s where my son get’s B’s, C’s, and the rare D’s.

In fact that is why he is taking Summer School. He earned D’s both semesters of English this year. Why? His focus was elsewhere. Band, Track, Guitar, Ukulele, & anything else that seemed cool. Something we figured would be difficult his first year of high school especially wanted to do so much. At the beginning of the year I warned him of his busy schedule but he assured me he could do it. I had to let him try. I told him that he would have to have a report card with no D’s in June to be able to stay on Track and Band this year.

When I saw the D I was as crushed as he was. I told him that he was done with any extra’s at school until he showed he could keep his grades up. I never expect him to be an all “A” guy but I cannot let him get into the slacker mode that plagues most schools.

I talked to my wife about it all because a part of me sees that most of the kids in school who were total slackers were not in sports or performing artsor anything for that matter. The kids that had more time on their hands seemed to be more wasteful of time in general and seemed to get into trouble during all that extra time. This is of course my opinion but I would love your thoughts on this.

Anyhow, we came up with a plan. He would have to take summer school and take English again. I told him that each session of summer school would be for one elective. He was planning on being in Band and on Track next year. If he passed both sessions of summer school with B’s or better then he could be in both but if not, then he would have to choose between one or the other.

The first session he got an A. And this session that ends Thursday looks as though he is going to get an A again. I hope so because it will be a major lesson in potential and hard work.

And as long as that all was, that was not the point of this post.

George’s grandmother is in town and bought tickets for all the kids to go to Six Flags this week. She asked me if he could miss a day of summer school to go since his grandma lives out of town and it would be a fun summer vacation kind of thing to do. I was not opposed at all but wanted to talk it over with Jasmine first and check with George to make sure he thought he would be okay with it.

I mentioned the trip in front of the both of them and George said, “I am not going to go! (He seemed offended that I even suggest it) I am going to summer school because I messed up. I am there to fix something and I am NOT going to screw myself up now! I want an A+ and I am not going to mess it up now after all the work I have done.”

I wanted to high five him but that was not the time. He is getting it. He is becoming a person that recognizes that you can learn from your mistakes and come out a better person because of it. He sees that he can do so much more when he puts his mind to it and that his priorities must be aligned with his future plans. He is learning to be a good person which is why I became a parent. To raise someone who could make better choices in this world and hopefully change it for the better.

I learned that every bad event can turn into a learning process for both me and my children. I learned that you can be strict and still show love to your kids. I have learned that the best thing I have ever done as a parent is to not forget what it was like to be a kid. I have learned that walking the line of friend and parent is difficult but so far has worked well with my kids.

I just hope it will continue to work.


Nan said...

wow...really seems like he IS getting it...that is great! there are so many hard parts about parenting! we just need to keep going and encourage each other...way to go!

Karen said...

Wow, I am so proud of you both!!! You are raising a wonderful son there. I hope he gets that A+. I know he can do it!!

Sara said...

Great parents raise great kids!

Bad Decision Maker said...

I think you're right that doing activities often does make kids manage their time better. I usually got better grades the quarter I was on cross country than other quarters in high school. However, I also think there's a limit - like once you get to more than 1 or 2 extracurriculars, something will start to go downhill, whether it is grades/schoolwork, getting enough sleep and taking care of your health, or the quality of the effort/success in extracurriculars. Some kids do way too much, and there's a lot of pressure for them to do so. For me, i mostly kept my grades up but NEVER got enough sleep, my blood sugars were out of control (well they still are but they were worse then), and never practiced my clarinet so i went from being good to being so-so and just going through the motions.

i also think that some activities - ESPECIALLY those that involve exercise - make you more productive. after sitting in school all day you need to move, and exercise makes you feel better, sleep better, and think better. and if music is his passion that's important and good for him too.

Glad things went well this summer for him!

tmana said...

Sounds like li'l G gets the responsibility thing. I just hope he doesn't get so entangled into it that it counteracts everything that makes him a great human being (you're hearing this from the gal who was ashamed at bringing home anything less than 100 in Jr. High and High School while being active in every activity under the sun... but then who, with no activity except fencing, nearly flunked out of college).

As an adult I see so many different activities as facets of a single whole that I figure there must be a way of getting li'l G to "get it" through the things that interest him. For example: math and music: beats, measures, fractional notes, multiple meters -- add physics and get harmonics and even basic calculus. Theater and spoken language, songs and poetry are pretty much hand-in-glove. You need to understand the words and the context to understand the character and bring it to life. Sports include both repetition and strategy, and you need situational awareness to understand when and how to apply those strategies to "conquer" your opponent(s). Most of his chores and expenses can be used to teach microeconomics. Think of Mary Poppins: "You find the fun and *snap*! the job's a game..."

Wendy said...

HI FIVE!!!!!!

Andrea said...

Thanks for this George. As a worry wart, and now a pregnant lady, the thing that seems to be on my mind the most is how I am going to teach my son to make good decisions when there are so many bad ones out there to make- more so than when I was a kid- that I have gotten to see first hand as a middle school teacher. I think maybe I can stop worrying because I know, if I get in a bind, I have awesome cousins I can turn to, who have raised an amazing son. Seriously- he's a truly amazing person and it's because he has awesome parents like you guys.

Kevin said...

Well done George! I was an English major in college and just recently graduated. It's not easy! But when you engage it, there's a lot to get from it, including a good grade. My name is Kevin, and I work for icyou is a user-generated website for health care videos.

Not that you and/or George require any help with balancing your busy, I would just like to show you some of the work that's being done here on icyou. A video:

Scott K. Johnson said...

I've shared with you before that I often think of you in how I want to raise my kids. I know it's probably scary for you, but you're totally a role model for me.

Scott K. Johnson said...

Oh yeah! Ditto what Sara said ("Great parents raise great kids!")!