The other day I pulled up the log-in information and accessed the school’s records giving me an overview of how well my Pie Dudes were doing in their classes. I know this is a difficult, transitional year for any kid their age and remember how rough it was for me.
Naturally, kids this age (12) are starting to test their wings, which aren’t very strong; they’re lucky to get to the end of the branch before hopping back into the safety of the nest. Yet they’re defiant in their struggle to achieve a sense of autonomy. It’s best not to attempt to break that bronco quite yet, my bones can’t handle the thrashing!
What I have found works is what many parenting books and forums herald as the way to strengthen the bonds between parent and child at this turning point: relating to them. Some suggest sharing stories of your own childhood that are similar to the experiences they’re enduring and relate how the problem was resolved.
I certainly hope this doesn’t apply to when they’re preparing to go off to college. My stories might have to be made up at that point.
According to the progress report I accessed online, Z-dude was struggling with his math. Good to know, better now than in a few more weeks when the first trimester comes to a close. Instead of harping on him, demanding to know what was wrong and why he was struggling with it, I shared with him a story. In a few months from now, the Pie Dudes will be the same age I was when I was uprooted in the middle of the school year and my family and I trekked across the country to the Left Coast. Aside from the normal “new girl” experiences and my own frustrations of being in an old, run down school that looked about a bazillion years old after coming from a state-of-the-art brand spanking new school (the misery!), it quickly came to light that I was exactly two years ahead of my classmates in every subject save my social sciences class. I wasn’t the only one who caught on. My teachers also learned from the get-go that while I appeared not to be paying attention (in truth, I wasn’t, really) and didn’t raise my hand to participate in the activities, they couldn’t blindside me by calling on me to answer the question and “catch me.” I always spouted the answer right out and it, more than not, was the correct response. And thus, I was left out to pasture without anyone paying me much attention. For the new girl, that was fine by me. I had enough problems trying to fit into the social pack.
Now while my husband gives me grief about how I go on and on with my stories instead of getting right to the point (wow, that makes me feel all warm and bubbly with the love), my kids actually enjoy listening to the stories and I think it offers them the ability to “relate” better than if I just blurted out “the point.” So I shared with Z-dude (and let it be noted that Ry-guy was nearby, rapt) that I sailed through the remainder of my sixth grade classes and on into seventh grade. And then came the fateful day when my world crashed down around me. Well, okay, not really, but at the time, it sure felt that way. The papers were handed back during 6th period math and when I turned my four-page test over, I almost burst into tears when I saw the big, fat, larger-than-life “F.” From thereon, it was a struggle. It didn’t help much when my German algebra teacher two years later felt that the best way to teach me how to solve the problems was to put me up in front of the class day in and day out, to work the strange array of alpha-numeric’s while my peers snickered behind me. I wound up failing that class entirely which is why, I informed them, you need to stay after school and take advantage of the help your teacher and the high school tutors can give you. The point of my story here is, if you are seeing your grades slip, get the help immediately, get extra credit, find out if you can do any make-up work and push that right back up to where it needs to be. If you don’t, it could quickly get so far ahead of you, you may never catch up.
A few days later, Ry-guy reported back that Z-dude indeed was spending his time after school before catching the bus, in the classroom and yesterday, he had a packet of extra-credit he was working on. Boo-yah!
Along those same lines, Ry-guy is in a class where they have a writer’s workshop on a weekly basis. In reviewing his notes, he’s in for a lot of writing this year. I mean a lot. I’ll admit, I’ve had my concerns. He can tell a story, but when it comes to actually writing one, he gets tangled in an interesting way of repeating himself and not going back and reading what he’s written to see if it flows. We’ve been working on it together and he’s taken off with some of the most wicked imaginative stories he’s come up with to date. Make your mother proud, kiddo! Taking it a step further, he’s already signed up and ready to participate in the youth version of the annual National Novel Writing Month in November. I couldn’t possibly gloat any more than I am!
“So how come your classes aren’t doing a lot of writing?” I asked Z-dude after the second week of Ry-guy’s edits. He merely shrugged his shoulders and mumbled (Lord how I hate this stage where they mumble too much!) something about “I don’t know” or maybe even the text version, IDK. Until yesterday. He came home and reported he had to write a story for his Roman history class and promptly asked me if I could help him look up some maps to better prepare him for his story.
Not as easy of a task as I thought! But we muddled through, thanks to the help offered from some FB buddies and he was soon bent over his desk with his lined paper, writing furiously. He’s quite a bit like me and doesn’t want anyone looking over his shoulder, so I let him go at it. Without even having to prompt him, he handed me the story (he’d written two full pages within a short period of time, woot, woot!) to read while we sat down to dinner. It was a very funny story, one that most likely will appear on their blog once it’s graded and returned. I’ll try to remember to post an announcement when it happens (go anyway, several of their work is already on their Pie Dudes blog). The best part was: “Why is thou here?” Chris said. “Why has thou put a two-inch hole in my leg?” He responded. I about fell out of my seat laughing so hard.
Man, I’m so loving seeing my kids grow up!