just how do you convince a 13 year old girl that her grades
NOW are important and make a difference? yes, we are in the middle of the teenage
school angst. she is an incredible talented young lady, our kitten. and that is
not just mama talking. she is in gate, our gifted and talented education program,
and could ace everything if she would just apply herself. not that i insist on
a's. i accept c's, but that is the minimum i will accept. And while she has had
a generally rocky road with the schools, she has actually usually managed to pull
decent grades...until recently.
when kitten and jewel were younger i had actually planned to homeschool them.
my reasons were both religious and non-religious in nature. it bothered me that
sex education was devoid of any mention of abstinence (at the time) because it
was a "religious" concept. it upsets me that my kids are going to schools
that ignore developmental needs of kids in favor of placing them with age mates.
it bothers me that so many of our high schoolers walk out of school unable to
read or write. schools are failing horribly and generally unwilling to even consider
alternate ways of educating to fix the problem. vouchers are thoroughly being
trounced every time they are suggested even though they would force the schools
to actually compete (the public school system is a monopoly to those of us who
can't afford private education. we broke up ma bell, tried to break up microsoft,
and have broken up other corporations because of monopolies, why not the schools?).
so what was left for someone who can't afford private schooling? homeschool.
however, grandma (on her dad's side) decided this was a bad mothering choice.
mind you, i can see the problems in homeschooling. but not all homeschooling
is bad, and most of those who teach within a support structure (which i was looking
into) raise kids who can outthink kids in public schools. however, grandma never
listened to me. if anything, if i supported it it had to be the worst thing to
do. my opinions, my research, my knowledge, none of it mattered. as far as she
was concerned i was ignorant and had absolutely no clue what i was talking about
not even when i researched it for years, and i had to be set straight whenever
possible. with grandma, this meant meddling. of course SHE never really saw it
that way, but if you didn't see it her way you were wrong and had to be put right.
so, over the year i managed to homeschool, she reported me for truancy and had
truant officers at my door at least twice. fortunately there are those who defend
homeschoolers, believing parents have every right to raise their kids they way
they want, including in education. with the advice of one of those lawyers i was
able to get the school district off my back. she finally had her chance to put
my kids into her idea of the best education for them when my husband of the time
and i separated and some issues on the house i was renting from them came up.
basically she forced me to enter my kids into the school of her choice to be able
to rent the home. it was that or land on the street. i had no choice.
that first year was not an easy adjustment. not because of the kids in the classroom
or any lack of socialization on her part, but because of the education process.
they shoved kitten through first and second grade in just under one year. i had
requested that she be placed in first grade, but age-wise they kept insisting
she needed to be in second. the one-two combination class was their version of
a compromise. she has come to hate math (which i can relate to), but has otherwise
generally made it through it with flying colors. she's a smart kid, or she wouldn't
be in gate. and once she got over the adjustment of the first year and got caught
up to where the schools felt she should be age wise, she did fine. always pulling
in good marks. jewel was started in kindergarten at my insistence (after the fiasco
with shoving the older girl through two grades in one year i was very demanding
about the placement for number two), and the year delay has proven to be a good
thing for her. She is also in gate and another gifted program, and doing extremely
this year is a grade nightmare. she'll get b's one quarter, then begin flunking
the same classes the next. she comes home and tells us she has no homework. she
shows me her date book that the school gives so she can record assignments and
has no assignments written in. what can i do here? this quarter her history grade
went from a c to a d and her math grade went from a b to an f. and she doesn't
understand when i look at her and say, "you will study, homework or no, until
your grades are up". she whines, she sulks, she tantrums. today we sent her
upstairs to study and she shut her door, turned off the lights and took a nap.
i am watching her toss her future down the drain and i have no idea how to get
her motivated to at least get the c's. she has a lot of school ahead of her, and
much of her future education depends on what she does now, but we just can't seem
to get through to her that this, above almost everything else, is important. it
is also the one thing that is totally in her control.
good parenting is raising your kids in such a way that you end up working yourself
out of a job. but in something like this, where your control is tenuous at best,
particularly if you want to inspire a love of learning, perhaps all you can do
is encourage, provide opportunity and tools, but otherwise let them make their
own mistakes. And just be there to help them back up and comfort them when they
do. but it is so hard to just stand by, especially when you know they have so
much potential. and you know that fulfilling that potential is what will make
their future brighter than your present. i can say all i want for them is to be
happy, but i know i want so much more than happiness for them. i want to see them
fulfilling their potential, being everything they can be, and living a better
life then i am. AND being happy. i don't think that's too much to ask. now if
i could just convince them of the benefits of all that work now.