Mom, Is An 82 Okay?

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I am super hard on my kids. I expect a lot but I no longer expect more than their personal best. This push for better, brighter, smarter, perfect is becoming an inner battle I must fight from the inside out. I cannot tell you the number of parents I know who absolutely freak out over anything less that an A. Newsflash everyone! Not every kid is capable of A’s. As a parent who is more involved with my child’s schoolwork than most, I can honestly attest that sometimes the amount of information taught in class is not enough tobe successful on tests. This expectation that you can give kids an overload on informationin a short time folllwed by an exam where you are expected to APPLY what you learn is setting these kids up for failure. Not everyone can make those connections that are obvious for a select few. All I can say is, yes Chase, an 82 is just fine. 

Focus On the Positive

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I’m trying hard to stay positive and get my mind off all the anxiety we have at home because of school. I help Chase spend countless hours doing work he doesn’t even slightly understand. Tonight I looked in his backpack to look at his two most recent tests. I couldn’t believe both papers had mistakes when it came to grading. One test had two mistakes and the other had one but the point is he works too hard to be cheated out of even 1 point he deserves. I feel like I already do so much already. I have palpitations and high blood pressure and I actually start to shake when I have to communicate with anyone at the school. I have limited those interactions. I have been meditating and even went back to the gym after nearly a year of doing nothing but yoga. I am trying to recover and get it together because that’s what my boy needs me to do. Now I have to check and make sure papers are graded correctly too? On a positive note, I just got notification that his grade went from a 72 to an 84.6. That’s a significant difference. I’m glad I caught the mistake. Breathe and let it go. These are the wrong things to dwell on, the ones that don’t really matter. We will get through this and everything will be alright. Focus on the positive and keep moving forward, one small step in front of the other. I’ve got this. There is no other option.

Perspective In A Simple Question

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My son decided he didn’t need to study for his science test last week. I tried to force him and then I remembered that sometimes bad decisions teach for themselves. Sure enough, he got a 67, his lowest grade of the whole year. Usually I would be angry and maybe take his video games away but I realized he is 13 years old now and needs to make decisions for himself and accept responsibility and the consequences. It is not my grade, it is his. Every time I panic or get upset lately, I ask myself this simple question: In the course of my lifetime, what does it matter? The answer was simple. In the course of a lifetime, a bad grade does not matter. It is not the end of the world

A Very Sharp Tongue Needs To Be Contained

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A quick tongue is like a sharp sword. Not only can it hurt those around us but it can also come back to stab us in our own back. If it’s one thing I’m most proud of, it’s that I do not respond out of anger as much as I used to. Today, I had a minor, well major setback and I am disappointed in myself.

It was an unusually crazy day. In the midst of it all, I happened to check Parent Portal. I gasped as I saw my sons grade for behavior for the unit. It was a 5. Out of what, my brother asked and I bet you are wondering the same thing too. Unfortunately, that 5 was out of 100 so that was his actual grade. As I sat there staring at the screen on my phone, I could feel my heart start to race. My breathing became shallow and I did the one thing I shouldn’t have, I wrote the teacher an email that started off with, “Are you kidding me? Seriously, a 5 for behavior” and I won’t even embarrass myself to tell you the rest. I did mention I was disheartened that behavior is not treated with discipline but rather used as criteria to boost or hurt the students grade. AND, I may have mentioned that it’s a good thing I can’t grade the teachers behavior because the mark would be discouragingly disappointing.

As I was flying into the school parking lot(yes, on my broom)I checked my email just in the knick of time. The teacher apologetically explained the 5 was extra credit and she accidentally put it in the column for behavior. I thought about the words I had just sent in that email as my broom fell from underneath me and the humiliation crept into my cheeks in the color of reddish- pink.

My gripe is that, if he WAS truly that much of a behavior problem, why hadn’t I been notified? Why had he not been given after school detention or some type of punishment? Lucky for everyone, especially him, that his behavior was not a problem at all, it was simply an innocent mistake.

I guess I should have been patient and allowed her time to react before I exploded. The truth is I was mad and it felt amazing to light a fire behind my anger. I was like a firecracker on way to school to explode. Looking back, I wish I did things differently. I wish my email was pleasant and non- judgmental but the truth is I am tired of teachers not following his 504 and then scoring his accountability and behavior. I have watched and allowed these teachers to get away with so much and when I saw that 5, I snapped.

Note to self: stay calm, breath, and do yourself a favor and return to yoga. Speak less, think less, meditate more. Oh, and please wait 24 hours before sending any emails when mad.

When is the last time you embarrassed yourself? Tell me what happened and what triggered it.

Behavior as a Grade?

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“and is NEVER a discipline problem in the classroom.”

“Also, he is no problem in class!”

These quotes were taken directly from emails between Chases teacher and myself. I was questioning some of her grading methods and one of the things I strongly disagreed about was a child’s behavior affecting his grade. I have always and will always believe a child’s grade should be based on his learning and his ability to express it through many forms of schoolwork such as tests, worksheets, projects, papers, etc. That being said, I was very surprised to see this grade come across the internet today. These emails took place earlier in the week so can someone attempt to make sense of this for me. Calling all teachers! Help me with this one. This is what I stumbled on today:

Score Detail
Score 85 (85%)
Comments
Assignment Detail
Name Europe- Classroom Behavior
Due Date 01/19/2015
Date Assigned 01/19/2015
Total Points 100
Multiplier 1

You Should Never Be Less Than Perfect

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So yesterday we were eating dinner and the silence was really bothering me. I asked anyone if they had something they wanted to share. Chase slowly pushed his chair back from the table and said “Well….”. I knew he was about to tell me something that would be difficult.

It turns out he has lost his packet for science class. He went to his teacher and told her he thinks he accidentally threw his out instead of an old test and asked if he could have another. She told him he would be getting a 0 and she would not allow him to have a second paper.

At first I was angry. He has a 98.5 in the class and I knew what a 0 would do to his grade. I told him he was in trouble and there would be no video games. After I thought about it I decided to call him downstairs and tell him it was okay. It was just a mistake and I knew he didn’t do it on purpose.

The bottom line is this. Life is so very hard and people expect so much from us. I even believe they expect perfection. In time, we learn to expect that from ourself as well. No wonder we feel like we can’t do anything right and that we are a complete failure. We hold each other to a standard that is just unattainable. The fact is, we are human beings. We make mistakes, we learn from them and we strive to do the best we can. Does throwing a paper out on accident make Chase irresponsible? No. It does not. It makes him human. People have bad days and chaotic moments and sometimes kids with ADD get distracted. Imagine that. The kid has a math test that he couldn’t finish the other day because the math teacher hasn’t bothered to bring him up to speed on the 8 days of information he missed while he was out sick. To me, that lends itself more to irresponsible than human nature. He has a broken arm that makes it difficult to get in and out of his locker and put his papers in the necessary binders. He is doing a great job in school and this is the first time something like this has happened. I have to wonder how many times this teacher has misplaced something. Geez…half the time I am looking for my cell phone while I am actually talking on it. Does that make me irresponsible?

This expectation of perfection has got to be stopped. It hurts people and makes them feel really bad about who they are and what they do. Let this be a lesson. Give people a break. It is not always your job to punish someone or teach them a lesson because they made a mistake they already feel bad about. It is your job to look them in the eyes and say it’s really okay, we all make mistakes. We cannot hold people to a higher standard than we are capable of ourselves. What do you think will be the more important lesson in the totality of his lifetime? A zero on a paper or someone saying it’s okay, we all make mistakes? Let me know what you believe.IMG_6810.PNG

Bad Cop or Parent?

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It’s all about balance. Everything. How though does one go about achieving that balance? Back in the days when I was in school there was no internet. My parents didn’t have access to every grade and all the details of my schoolwork. There was a basic trust and my parents could count on the fact that I was doing my work, handing in my work and generally doing well in school. If not, when report cards arrived, consequences arrived too.

These days, things are much different. If you are a concerned parent you can check online each day to see exactly how your children are doing. I believe it’s a blessing and a curse because now parents have become the bad investigative cops and the kids feel like they cannot get a break. Years ago, we weren’t given second chances if we didn’t do things right the first time around. We weren’t allowed to hand papers in long after the date they were due. I have learned that the grade I see on Parent Portal does not reflect the real grade. With all these opportunities to redo whatever wasn’t great the first time around, the grade will be constantly changing based on our kids desire to better their grades.

Back to the balance. When and how often should a parent jump in and get involved? When I see participation grades in gym of 50 and 80% I can’t help but wonder where the crazy system has gone wrong. Am I safe to assume that my son is sitting through 50% of his activities and refusing to participate? When I asked him about it, his response was “huh?” That reaction told me all I really need to know. And, did I mention he has two gym classes this semester? Augh! The criteria just seems a little bit silly to me. Sportsmanship %, participation %. Why can’t gym just be gym.

Anyway, unlike most parents, I have learned to laugh at grades. As long as I know my kids are doing their work and trying their best, am I going to freak out if one gets a B in gym? My kids will go to college. They will do the best they can and I am pretty sure they will graduate. They will get a job and they will be just fine. I refuse to succumb to the ” my kid has to get a 4.0 average and go to an Ivy League school” mentality. Once school ends, it just doesn’t matter. I watch as my daughter takes an AP class. I see all the work. I see the hours she puts into studying and reading and then I find out most kids don’t even pass their AP test at the end of the year? Why then do we push our kids to put in all this time and effort to do all this extra work that they could be putting into their other classes if only a very small percentage will even get credit?

I certainly don’t have any answers and really I’m not even looking for any. I just needed to vent my thoughts and remind myself to not get crazy about the things I cannot change and the things years from now that will have no relevance. Once it’s in writing I have to commit. So, reminder to self. Trust your kids, trust them to do it on their own. Do not be the bad cop. Be the supportive parent.

God Grant Me The Serenity
To Accept The Things I Cannot Change,
The Courage To Change The Things I Can,
And The Wisdom To Know The Difference.

Oh My God! My Kid Made the Honor Roll

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Today we got up with the chickens. The middle school was holding a breakfast offering honor roll students donuts and achievement certificates for good grades. I have always been torn when it comes to these things, not the fact that we reward our kids for good grades but the absolute mess it has caused in the minds of some parents. Seriously, some parents absolutely freak out if their kids don’t get straight A’s, other parents get way too inflated if they do.

What I’ve learned is this. The school system we are now a part of is significantly easier than schools we attended in other states. The workload is much less and these kids can hand in papers long after the due date and redo any bad grade. Seriously? If you don’t make one of the honor rolls its simply because you don’t want too.

Everyone has followed and supported our journey with my sons ADD, so I’d like to tell you why sitting at this breakfast meant so much to me. First of all, kids with ADD forget to bring everything home. It’s just something you learn to tolerate, but guess what made its way home and into my hands? This breakfast/celebration meant so much to Chase that he brought me the invitation. I knew then, at that moment, that this event was important to him. He was proud of himself and wanted to be part of it. We have plenty to celebrate! For the first time ever, Scott and I are not needing to drag Chase through his work. He seriously couldn’t do it on his own before. It was awful and devastating for our entire family, especially for my sweet, frustrated boy that wanted to get it done but just couldn’t. This year they do a lot of bell work and papers in class. This would have been completely devastating to his grades last year because he was unable to complete little if any work on his own. This year, with the right medication, not only CAN he do it, but he is able to do it well.

That is what we celebrate today. Chases ability to succeed on his own. It is a huge step for us and one that means so much more that most could ever know. So, to you parents that hang the moon on your child’s grades, be grateful school comes easy for them, but know in the real world, there are no second chances or opportunities to hand work in without a penalty. Focus more on celebrating the fact that your child puts forth his or her best effort the first time around and is responsible to get all the assignments in the day they are due. That will lead to success in the long run way more than a silly semester of middle school grades.

I am so proud of Chase today. The strides he has made are amazing and I fail at trying to put it into words. But he knows, and I know how far he has really come, and for that, today, we celebrate his achievement.