Progress Report

(day 13)

Maybe I figured my narcissism needed to be checked so I wrote about how disgusting I was yesterday. I don’t know. The exercise was meant to break from Brady Bunch and be real and vulnerable and make an admission that was embarrassing for the purpose of shaking it up a bit. I regret it a little but whatever. What few people on here who know me probably weren’t very surprised. I don’t know that I’ll ever get used to being a bachelor or, like, an adult all the way. It’s fine. My kids are happy and mostly healthy and awesome people and that’s pretty much all that matters.


Which brings us to today’s offering. I went online to pay for the remainder of the Big One’s high school registration balance. Yes, in March, grow up. While I was there I checked out his progress report released the other day. This is the brain. The clever guy who spent last week at the state DECA business competition. Two Fs, this guy has. Two. I have to intervene. With this kid, who’s basically been relegated to parent duty for a few years now and mostly comes through with great aplomb beyond his years, I have to do my job. I have to ground him.


Which is made more difficult by the fact that the main thing I think that would be effective in the punishment, which should not only be a consequence but ideally also serve to assist in the correction of the problem, ie him not coming close to reaching his potential due to a lack of effort, not brains, would be taking away his Playstation which is at his mom’s apartment where he is and will be for most of this week. I tell her what’s up, she agrees, I tell her I will have a talk with him tonight. I reach out to both teachers for a little bit of a better picture on where things have broken down and one tells him that this has occurred. The consequence has been set and agreed upon by both parents, and he texts me after talking to his teacher. I tell him there will be some changes and two Fs is unacceptable. It turns out that both (excellent seeming) teachers allow for make up points and at this point one grade has been elevated to a B, but one is a D yet. I had to click another thing to see the real time grade as the progress report was from the beginning of the month. Still, the punishment needs to stand.


One D is not two Fs, I know, but it is also not ok. I spent at least three-fourths of my senior year grounded to my house because of grades. I had to attend night school in order to graduate on time. We moved to Florida just before that year and to say their attendance policy was lenient in comparison to where I came from would be an understatement. I came from a school where missing one class would be immediately reported to home. Senior year at this new school you were allowed to miss 9 classes, per period, per trimester. Nothing happened. But after nine you were dropped. I spent a lot of time with the office ladies checking on each individual class, making note of how many days I had left to skip. You did not want to end a trimester having only jaunted to McDonalds or daytime partied in an adult-less neighborhood house 8 times in a trimester. That would be such a waste! The graduation rate was low, to say the least.


I do not want this for my son. Any of it. He is better than me. Further complicating the issue is the impending fact that in 2 years’ time will begin a twelve year string wherein I will always have a kid (fingers crossed) in college. Three kids. Four years apart each. Twelve years of college.

I. Have. No. Idea. How. That’s. Going. To. Work.


But it’s coming. In two years. For twelve. It’s why I’ve been telling them to shoot for academic scholarships since they could walk. Fair or not college opens so many doors and I want them to have those opportunities and that experience. So badly. Since our family plan was blown out of the sky I make it my daily duty to limit the amount in which it affects my kids in a negative way. It’s why I live how and where I do. But three colleges? No amount of missed dinners or coupon cutting is going to make that work well for a teacher. Ugh.


Anyways – we have talks, the Big One and I. I do with all three of them actually. And once I realized through his text that the damage wasn’t nearly as bad, but bad enough that there was a lesson to be learned in it, I decided the big sit down conversation wasn’t necessary and doled out his parents’ ruling via response text. This was one of two long-winded, lesson-laden texts I sent him (me long-winded? Shocker, right?) and I am going to keep the contents of those texts between him and I but I will tell you that it was some pretty solid father/son action. Textbook. We communicate through language sometimes that seems so stereotypically hallmark family Lifetime Network Xmas special for sure but it’s because, I think, we both appreciate verbalised sentiment and know it doesn’t come out as much as it should. Or, I’m not sure that’s exactly right, so I’ll just say we are cut from the same cloth.


He does so much. He is genuinely so great. How do you punish that? Right? Like, I get why consequences are necessary and he loves that video game system and, like so many of his friends, it’s not just a console for him but a portal to all of his friends while he is at home as well as the rest of his connected, gaming world. Which means it is going to be effective because he will bring up those grades. So I know I’m in the right on the choice and all. But it was so hard. Awkward even. That’s not the best word because very little is actually awkward between us but it’s the one I’m going to stick with. That’s why it was a long speech type thing explaining myself rather than just screaming “bad!” and pulling a plug and slamming a door.


After my explanation there was silence. The sentence had been delivered and nothing. Ok. I get it. Driving to an hour long wait for a Middle Guy haircut while lil sis is at karate across the street. After a while I text back telling him that after he’s done being mad he can let me know what he wants me to bring him for dinner when I drop the kids. This kid. Get this. This kid texts back that he’s not mad at me, he’s mad at himself. He admits he should’ve never gotten himself into this mess from the jump. See? So good.
My district is huge on SEL. I consider myself a major SEL disciple. Beyond just curricularly. The stuff I gravitated most to in my education courses was all the whole-child/SEL stuff. It just spoke to me. A connection perhaps begun by my time as a stay at home dad. I am a dad and also a coach and by no means a push-over. I understand the place of consequence in the development of a child. I promise. But it’s not always easy. When a kid messes up, even big, even over a period of time, but they’re so great, like, around that, it does not feel good to pinpoint that one bad in all the good and emphasize it. Our job isn’t easy, I know. Parents or teachers. Sometimes you get a kid like mine though, who help make it so much moreso. I’m so grateful he is who he is. Like so many other jobs he does, it shouldn’t be his job to make mine easier, but he does it. Organically. Naturally. Flawlessly. Regardless of what his progress report says.

2 thoughts on “Progress Report

  1. “the impending fact that in 2 years’ time will begin a twelve year string wherein I will always have a kid (fingers crossed) in college. Three kids. Four years apart each. Twelve years of college.

    I. Have. No. Idea. How. That’s. Going. To. Work.”

    True that. I love exactly the way these couple of sentences are punctuated and phrased. Very cleverly and honest. How terrifying and yet you make it so that it is what it is. It’s happening and it’s going to be okay. Somehow it will work out. That is clear from the get go; you love him, all your kids, and you really are on a deeper level with your high school son than I think most fathers are. Kudos and keep at it. Love these kinds of posts. Will have to catch up on the last couple.


  2. I can tell that you have a solid relationship with your big guy. I teared up when he said”I’m mad at myself”. Taking ownership. Whatever you’re doing, keep it up. Your hard work is showing.


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