Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Semi-Random Jots

Several things today. I was going to post yesterday when we got the first snowfall of the season. Which was, of course, right after one of the warmest few days since August. It's supposed to be back up to 60 tomorrow. This is just typical. What's weird is that it didn't snow in September this year.

Second, I've got my appeal to Social Security nearly finished. I was trying to work on it earlier while getting the kids ready for bed because the SS servers go down at night. But that's sort of like trying to juggle two pitbulls and a chainsaw. They'd never accept that I'm disabled if they knew about that...

Which reminds me, it's miraculous that Punkin Boy is even in bed by now. He's been sleeping until 9-ish every morning lately, which is great, but then he's been staying up till 11 or midnight, and that I can't handle. For one thing, I never get anything done. I was doing so well on finishing my novel, and then this started and all I've been able to do is sit with this 40-pound "baby chick" on my lap (this is his self-label) and read him the same book over and over. It is not a very good book. I guess I shouldn't complain at all. It's taken him 3 years to develop an affection for me; he was best friends with his daddy from the womb, but he only recently acknowledged my existence. So I ought to be grateful.

As for the other kids, dangit all but I want to compare them. I want to be so proud of my Pirate Boy, who uses terms like "syllabification" and "commutative property" in casual conversation and, when he runs out of homework, writes up quizzes and gives lectures about the material he's been learning in school. #1 Son calls him "The Brain" already.

This is the same #1 Son who doesn't bother doing his homework. He tells us every night that he's done with it, and we say, "Do you understand the consequences to you if you are lying?" and he says yes, and then we get yet another note from a teacher saying, "Your child's grade in my class has slipped to C- or below..." Today, it was from a teacher with whom he has several subjects, explaining why he is doing poorly in history, spelling/vocabulary, and reading. Reading, for heaven's sake! His best subject! This is the "make or break" subject for this grade, and he doesn't bother to do the work. What the heck is up with this?

The teachers are always so professional in their wording. Words like "distracted" and "disorganized" come up a lot. The one from the science teacher was pretty interesting-- "#1 Son was unhappy with a critical comment, began crying and hid under his desk." Oh come on. He's turning 12 this week and is acting like a 6-year-old. Except that Pirate Boy never does that. What the heck?

And before you start worrying too much, dear readers, I don't make these comparisons or comments (most of them) out loud. This blog is the place where I can get my worries out and maybe hear some advice (if any of you have any to share) about what on earth to do to help this kid whose DNA is half damaged and who has a lot of stress to deal with. (Yes, I do secretly exult over the superiority of my genetics. All other things being equal, my kid ROCKS!) We give him rules, have standards, love him, give him space, rein him in, expect his best, even threaten when necessary. (Currently, he must raise all his grades to a C or better before Christmas break, or he will be removed from the school he's in. This threat made him cry. We'll see if it motivates him to actually do the work.) What do we do next?


Jack said...

My grades fell my first quarter of middle school. My dad took away my Dungeons & Dragons Basic set and told me I could get it back if my GPA went back up at semester. Of course, being a smart kid, it wasn't difficult to find where he'd hidden my game, sneak it out to a friends house, left it there and still played D&D several times a week. I was even smart enough to sneak it back to its hiding spot before semester report cards came out. And smart enough to get my grades back up 'cause I knew I'd eventually get caught if I had to keep sneakin' around.

So yeah, you're probably on the right track. Find a privelege that's important to him and make it clear he will lose it if he can't improve his grades. I think it helps if the privelege is one that actually inhibits, or has potential to inhibit, his school work. Kinda' forces him to put it in perspective: "Yes I want this privelege. I must self-impose limits or I will lose it altogether."

What does he do instead of his homework? In my case it was easy for my parents to identify. I played D&D instead of doing my homework. For some kids, taking away sports participation or TV or video game time might be more appropriate. What are the chances you can get his mother to cooperate?

kailani said...

You have snow? Today we're expected to have upper 80s weather. I wish it would snow here.

Scone said...

Gee, that story sounds just like one about The Man when he was younger. I don't know whether he actually got his grades up or not.

The first semester this drop in grades happened, we took away #1 Son's Harry Potter books. Later, we took away his other "fun" books. Those are the main distractions here at home. Unfortunately, I think most of the time his homework doesn't get done is when he's at "Mommy's" house. Like last time, she dragged him to sporting events the whole weekend. The time before that, she dropped him off at a "lock-in" for half the weekend. When he failed to turn in an important packet of homework that he was supposed to do on the sports weekend, "mommy dearest" flew off the handle and blamed us, of course. Something about "He wanted to spend all his time with me and use his time with you to do his homework." Nevermind that his time with her lasts from immediately after school on Friday until Sunday night just in time to get ready for bed.

So, I guess the chances are nil of her cooperating. Her answer for the "not finishing homework problem" has been to call him every night about an hour before bedtime to ask if he's done with his homework. Even if he isn't, she then proceeds to keep him on the phone for most of an hour. This is not helpful, but we can't stop it. So I guess it's not entirely #1 Son's fault, except that he's not willing to stand up to her and say "I'm sorry, I have to do my homework now." Disneyland Mom is way more fun than Latin declensions. Well, for some people.