Saturday, June 7, 2008

Our Son and His Dissolving Brain

My husband and I were so ticked off at our son last night, we were spitting nails! Apparently, he thinks that he can "check out" of school early (even though he's got a critical week and a half to go before school lets out for the summer). I got a phone call from his English teacher yesterday, who relayed to me that my darling boy has neglected to turn in quite a few things for her class:

1) Her progress report (which gives us an overview of his grade, his efforts in turning in homework assignments and projects in on time, and his overall behavior) -- this was given to him on May 26th, and neither his father nor I have yet to see it;

2) The timeline for his Biography project. My son told me that the entire project (which counts for 35% of his grade) was due yesterday, and he "forgot" his timeline in his room. Turns out -- they were supposed to be presenting their project (orally) yesterday -- the written work was supposed to be handed in LAST Friday;

3) A questionnaire for his complete writing folder, a section of which he's supposed to complete (with questions like, "Which assignment did you find to be most difficult?", "Which assignment was the easiest?", etc.), and questions he's supposed to "interview" us on. That was due yesterday, too. Never saw it.

4) Three missing journal entries (he's actually missing more, but these are the only three she'll allow him to turn in, because they were due this term);

5) His one-on-one conference with his teacher regarding the extra reading book he's supposed to have completed by now. The conference is scheduled for next Wednesday, so he needs to finish reading the book.

Aside from the obvious, here's the REAL problem as to why this completely infuriates my husband and me. Not to toot my own horn here, but our son is an EXTREMELY bright child. He could read by the time he was two years old, and has always had a photographic memory. By fifth grade, he was approached by both People to People, asking him to be one of their Student Ambassadors (and, if we could have afforded the opportunity for him to go, that would have meant a trip to England, as a representative of his particular elementary school!). This student selection is by invitation only, and is only offered to the most academically talented kids in the country. He was also approached by Johns Hopkins, and was asked to be a part of their academically talented program. His final MCAS scores on the elementary level were in the top 5% in the State, and in the top 10% in the country.

Now, knowing all that, to hear that he's being downright stupid and not only not completing his work, but worse -- he's DOING the work and not passing it in (how asinine is THAT??) -- well, it just SENDS me!!

My husband and I had a three hour conversation with him last night, and I let him have it, but good. I told him that he was wasting a precious gift that was given to him, instead of using it to its fullest advantage. I also told him that if he thinks Junior High is hard, wait until he gets into high school and college. He'll be expected to be COMPLETELY responsible for all of his own work, and if he doesn't pass it in, there will be no coddling or babying or patronizing involved -- they'll just flunk him out of their class, plain and simple. I also told him that if he was ready to give up now, that he could go ahead and just quit school, but he's finding a full-time job and paying his way to live here, and that he might as well go and apply to McDonald's now, 'cause that's about all he's going to get without any kind of education. And, even McDONALDS is cracking down and asking for some sort of degree! (Not that I would EVER down McDonald's -- I think working there is HARD WORK -- my point to him is that that massive brain of his is capable of so much more, if only he'd allow himself to think that way!).

So.... needless to say, he's being SEVERELY punished this weekend. ALL of his game systems are off limits. So is his television and the phone. The ONLY thing he'll be doing this weekend is working on all of the projects his teacher dictated to me over the phone last night.

The only good news is, he's not failing English. Even if he didn't pass in any of this stuff, he'd still graduate (with an "F", though). Of course, I'm not going to let him know that. He'll be told from me that if he doesn't pass all of this in, he'll be flunking out of English and will not be graduating.

I'm so disappointed in him, and I told him so last night. He had so much promise -- so much potential -- and his priorities have gone all wonky. So, it's my job to REALLY reel him in, before it's too late.


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