Wednesday, October 21, 2009

'Mazed and Cornfused

Just some pictures from the weekend. I took the two younger kids to an orchard with a petting zoo and corn maze, then we stopped at the arboretum to see the fall colors. Beautiful.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Midterm Check-up

So we're about two months into the school year. Time to check in and see how everyone's doing. Lately, it seems all of our lives are revolving around school. Mykell is filling out college applications and will take the SAT and ACT this month. Bryce is considering his options for college and just took the PSAT Wednesday, hoping his scores will result in a scholarship. Erik is gearing up for the GMAT so he can get his MBA.

Sometimes I feel like the only one not making progress.

Rachel is taking the extracurricular road to success, getting involved in track, band, and working as a teller in the school banking program. And then there is Jason and his, um, unique humor. . . . This is the reason I can't move on.

I've often thought about returning to work, but honestly, my kids need me just as much now as they did when we were all home together. Whether giving advice on college essays over the phone, caring for a sick child, or supervising one as he cleans the wall in the Boys bathroom--just to make a point about respect--I have to be here, available. I know some moms don't have that choice, and I regret that because there are so many times when I've had to stand up TO or stand up FOR my kids in a school setting.

Like when Jason was playing around in the school library last month and lost his computer privileges. He also lost his chance at the drawing for a candy bar for good behavior, and had to write an apology to the librarian. It was the letter to the librarian that got me a call from his teacher. She read it to me over the phone. (I wish I had that letter for posterity)

Of course Jason said he was sorry for running in the library and that he wouldn't do it again, but then the letter took on an arrogant tone. Jason chose to elaborate on why he didn't need a candy bar from the library. He stated that he could get a snack anytime at home and that he could get more than just one little candy bar. He then mentioned the money he has saved up, and the amount of candy he could buy with that. Lastly, he sited the upcoming holiday season and how Halloween and Christmas would reward him with enough treats to satisfy him for months, making the library candy bar totally unnecessary and not worth his concern.

"Sounds like he was mad," I said, knowing how Jason endures library time just for the computers.

I listened patiently as the teacher voiced her concerns about respect, and how his letter was clearly disrespectful to the librarian and her disciplinary actions. She couldn't see me smiling and nodding my head. The truth was, Jason's letter sounded very much like something his parents would write. Either one of them. He had obviously put a lot of thought into it.

"At least it's logical," I replied, impressed by the high-level thinking involved.

The teacher went silent for a moment, then started again on the Respect issue.

I assured her that she was right, and that he should write another, different apology, and that we would talk when he got home, but pointed out that this was some of the best writing Jason's done so far, if we wanted to look for the positives. The call ended quickly after that.

That's why I'm still at home. Somebody's got to be there for the kids, no matter how old they get. They need that knowledge and assurance that someone's got their back--not that I'll defend everything they do--but that I will sort through the good and bad, still see their potential, and keep nudging them lovingly along until they get it right.

I like Jason's teacher. I liked her when she was Rachel's teacher. She's got her act together and I admire her expectations for the class. I've told her all of this. But no teacher is perfect.

This month we had another incident where Jason called a boy a liar (for denying he was goofing off in the bathroom) and Jason had to write another letter of apology, which made him appear to be the liar. He was very upset. So I wrote a full page letter to the teacher, explaining Jason's dismay, suggesting that if Respect was so important at the school, then she should write Jason a letter of apology.

She did.

After calling me to apologize as well.

Don't worry kids, I've got you covered.