Friday, December 15, 2006

Dirty Tricks

Wizard is up to his old tricks again. The Moms will remember the problems we had with Wizard beginning exactly a year ago. For newbies to The Zone, here's a quick recap.

In December 2005, Wizard came down with a nasty virus that kept him home for a couple of weeks. He got sick right before his winter break, so many of his grades were incomplete until he returned to school in January 2006. Apparently, the antibiotics he took for the illness irritated his intestines and stomach. He suffered with intermittent bouts of vomiting and diarrhea for 2 months and lost a lot of weight. We took him to the pediatrician, had him endoscoped and colonoscoped. No one found anything wrong. Then we found that he had been sneaking food upstairs into his room and eating all sorts of crap. There were boxes and containers of you-don't-want-to-know stashed in every conceivable corner and receptacle in his room. In the midst of this larcenous stage, he also decided not to do his schoolwork. He lied to us about his work. He lied to his teachers about doing his work. We were getting calls and emails daily from his teachers asking for his assignments. We cracked down on him hard and got him caught up on his work. He finished the year with respectable grades but not the stellar grades of which he is capable.

Fast forward to this school year: he made all As and one B in his first report card. Dean's List and all. We were so proud of him, and he was so proud of himself. Some of his interim grades came home 2 weeks ago. Most of them were good, but he was missing an important Science assignment from the science camp he attended at the end of October 2006. The work had to be done while he was at camp and could not be made up. That grade was a bomb. Last week, there was a science fair for his grade. The kids were supposed to present an invention assigned -- wait for it -- 10 WEEKS AGO. He was supposed to have a model and a presentation board done. Did he have a model? No. Did he have a presentation board? No. Did he ever tell us about the project? No. Did he ever tell us about the science fair? No. I saw the announcements in his planner, but I thought they were for a voluntary science fair.

Two days ago, the science teacher called me, asking about the project. She starts describing the research he did with her at school. I had no idea what she was talking about, and I told her so. She starts describing Wizard's idea, again.

Teacher: Wizard and I did research on the Internet about the scented projection candle.
Me: What are you talking about?
T: Wizard's invention project that was due this week.
Me: What invention project?
T: The one we've been working for 10 weeks.
Me: I have absolutely no knowledge of this project. I never saw a written assignment, nothing.
T: He has a red folder in which he was recording his progress in researching, creating, and describing his invention.
Me: (getting sterner by the minute) I've never seen a red folder, and I don't know a thing about this project. Is that what the science fair was about?
T: Yes, he told me he didn't have a model b/c you wouldn't let him use candles. He said he almost burned the house down.
Me: No, he is not allowed to use candles. Yes, he almost burned the house down, but that was a year ago. He's lying to you, and he's definitely been lying to me. That's why he didn't tell me about the science fair.
T: This really hurts me. Wizard is the brightest student I've ever taught. He can do brilliant things. He would have been selected to compete in a regional science competition had he done his work. Right now, his grade is [below failing].
Me: How do you want to handle this? As far as I'm concerned, if he didn't do the work, then flunk him.
T: Is that what you want?
Me: I am too angry to know what I want right now. Let me talk to his father.
T: I will speak with the head of the Intermediate School and get back to you tomorrow.

I hung up the phone and felt my blood pressure skyrocket. I was standing in the school parking lot ready to murder the lying wretch, but I used my one rational brain cell. I called my MIL, a former teacher and a reasonable person. I explained the situation to her and put her on the phone with Wizard. I picked up Wild Thing and Moose from the playground and came back. Wizard was nearly crying but still on the phone with his grandmother. He handed me the phone, and MIL laid out her plan. It made sense and pretty much jived with what his teacher proposed the next day: submit the model before winter break and turn in the presentation board after break. WineGuy and I discussed it later. We agreed that Wizard has to do the work and turn it in. The teacher can grade it or penalize it however she wishes; she will not give him full credit, however. I put my foot down and told Wizard that he WILL turn in his model and presentation board to the teacher before winter break.

In the meantime, I suspended all of Wizard's privileges: no TV, no computer other than for research, no playtime with his brothers: lockdown. It is upsetting because Hanukkah starts tonight, and there are presents for them all. Wizard can open his, but he can't touch them or play with them until his project is completed.

One false move, Wizard, and you're toast.


Sock Girl said...

Oh dear! I so feel your frustration. Hopefully this will be the event that really gets the message home to Wizard. (Hugs)

Robin said...

Oh, I feel for you. I really do. My youngest son, brilliant kid, was very much like this at various levels throughout his school career. He improved, then went to college and went through de-evolution in his sophmore year (went from Dean's List and Honors College to being kicked out of Honors College and flunking his classes, not due to partying but due to laziness on his part). I'm happy to say he's finally getting it right. :)

Happy (belated) Birthday!! Your gift sounds beautiful. Your reasoning on buying it yourself makes perfect sense to me.

Rambling Mom said...

HEY - if Wizard is still allowed to live in your house and you still feed him -- he's on the gravy train.

Good job having MIL talk to him -- sometimes us moms can be just too far gone to talk to our own kids -- it does (sometimes) take a village.

paige said...

I agree with rambling mom--having his grandmother talk to him was inspired. These are the kind of situations I dread as my kids get older (they're only 5 and <2.)'s the link where I got my site meter--it's pretty straightforward but feel free to email me if you have questions. And happy belated birthday!

Stuntmother said...

Stay strong! I found this story both upsetting (because I see it in my own future) and inspiring -- because clearly you are handling it amazingly well and that gives me hope that when my turn comes, I will cope too.


LSM said...

It sounds like you have a good plan in place for dealing with this. Wizard will learn that he will not get out of completing his schoolwork by procrastinating, and hopefully it will eventually click that it's better to do it on time for full credit than late for little or none. You're on the right track with making him follow through with the work rather than just take the zero.

Christina said...

GREAT JOB calling MIL! There are times we just have to ask for help and that was a brilliant move. I will keep my fingers crossed that this experience finally gets the message into Wizard's thick head.