Monday, March 12, 2007

Head, Meet Wall

It's just another manic Monday.
Wish it was Sunday,
'cause that's my fun day
My 'I don't want to run day'.
It's just another manic Monday.

The Bangles (1985)
Today started out like most other Mondays. The kids didn't want to get out of bed in the dark. Wild Thing was up and dressed and eating breakfast in no time, for a change. Wizard got up very slowly, and Moose needed to be pried out of bed with a crowbar. I got everyone's lunches made and off to school. I killed a little time before meeting my friend, Bird, for coffee this morning. We were having a nice little chat when my phone rang. School was calling.

Wizard's Social Studies teacher was calling me (for the third or fourth week in a row) with the report of what Wizard failed to turn in on his project. Wizard claimed he wrote a 10-page rough draft over February break and turned it in right away. Nope. Loooooong story short; it's a repeat of the science project fiasco from last term. Mr. SS assigned a months-long research project in December. The kids were supposed to turn in a rough draft on March 5, 2007. Wizard lied to us about doing the project. He lied to his teacher about the work and turned in 2 pages of handwritten crap. Mr. SS called to raise my blood pressure "keep me informed" about what Wizard was (not) doing in class. I quickly ended my pleasant morning and drove back to school, with that "mad Mommy" line deeply furrowed between my eyebrows.

I arrived at school and marched upstairs to Wizard's Language Arts class. I told the teacher I needed to speak with Wizard. Mrs. LA said the students were doing a timed essay, and she would send Wizard down as soon as he was done. We all go into Mr. SS's classroom and discuss the project. I repeatedly asked Mr. SS for a written assignment of this project, complete with deadlines and objectives. I never got anything from him. He says he wrote everything down on the board for the students to copy. Wizard never showed us his planner and ultimately lost it. Mr. SS and Wizard and I sat discussing this assignment – and the other missing work – for nearly an hour. Wizard claims he didn't understand the assignment. Mr. SS didn't believe that. Wizard lied to me and WineGuy about the work he'd done, and he lied to Mr. SS about the project. We went around and around all hour. In the end, once I understood the assignment, I explained it clearly to Wizard, who claims to understand it now. Then I find out that Wizard is two months late in presenting a "minute-in-history" assignment and a couple days late with a text outline. Wizard's Social Studies notebook has torn pages, doodles all over, crappy handwriting, and a half-assed outline of the textbook. Early notebook entries, from the beginning of the school year, are pretty neat and done as assigned. It looks like everything fell apart in December 2006, at the semester break.

Once I got the whole picture from Mr. SS, he recommended I go see the math teacher, who is also Wizard's homeroom teacher and the head of the Intermediate School (Grades 4-5). Mr. Math and I go to his office. He pulls out his grade book and tells me Wizard is 2 or 3 assignments behind in math, that Wizard lost his math workbook, and that his grade is slipping. I am so NOT happy at this point. Mr. Math gives me a new binder and planner for Wizard, and we agree that Wizard must have his planner signed by a parent daily. I haven't had to do that since the beginning of this school year. I leave Mr. Math's office and run into Mrs. LA as she's eating lunch. I apologize for interrupting, and we chat for a few minutes. Wizard is doing very well in Language Arts class, but she must constantly crack the whip for him to do his writing work. Wizard owes Mrs. LA one or two small assignments.

Ding! I'm getting the picture here: Wizard hates to write. He loves to read, but he hates to write. He is absolutely my child. I hated writing in school, too. It always seemed like busywork, particularly when the subject did not motivate me.

Now what? Ground the kid until the end of the school year? It's a distinct possibility. To begin with, he loses his computer/TV time until he's caught up. I haven't decided whether I'll pull him out of the lacrosse league he just joined -- his first sport ever. Mr. SS proposed giving Wizard another 2 weeks to get his rough draft done. I said, "absolutely not! He'll get it done in the next few days because it's gone on long enough."

We went through lots of drama like this with Wizard last year. I thought he had learned his lesson because he started off this school year so strongly. He seems to be getting along with the kids at school. He's not causing any trouble at school. Things at home have been fine, although there was that scare with WineGuy back in November 2006. WineGuy is fine now. I've been sick with bronchitis for 5-6 weeks, but that has had little effect on the kids. Mrs. LA gave me one small insight that Wizard feels like he has too many responsibilities at home and gets blamed for too much. Oh please. He has chores, like his brothers, do. He often has to help Moose in the morning because Moose won't get his lazy bones out of bed. I am not at my wit's end, but I am fresh out of ideas how to handle this.


mimi said...

My opinion, worth what you paid for it: You might check out the book we're using with our kids, "Parenting Teenagers - Systematic Training for Effective Parenting of Teens". Read the "displaying inadequacy" and "power struggle" parts, and see if you can find some answers there. Warning - this book puts the pressure on you to change your approach, which will spur the desired changes in Wizard. It's not easy, but it works wonders. If you do read the book, think hard and find objectivity before discarding its ideas. They work.

Rambling Mom said...

Just a thought -- I get the wanting to ground him forever. And I totally agree with losing the TV/Computer/Game time. But I'd think twice about the LaCrosse thing. For one thing healthy exercise and sportsmanship is a good thing, but the other thing I'm thinking is that could be the proverbial "carrot on the stick," in other words "you've lost A,B,C ... and W,X,Y, Lacrosse is the 'Z' and you'll lose that too if you don't figure this out."

P.S. When it comes to raising kids - especially at this age -- I personally think my opinion is worth LESS than Mimi's :}

Robin said...

I wish I had some good, practical advice for you. Or some magical advice that would change things around. I'm not much help, I'm afraid. We struggled with our youngest doing similar things. In his case, it was boredom. When he had teachers who challenged him, he got his act together and did well.

There's so much good advice out there. I hope you find something that works for you and for Wizard.

Christina said...

Hey there. Since I was in your state when all this came up, I am just catching up on things. I agree with those saying not to lose the lacrosse. My first thought was also "why is lying again?" because this seems to be more than just work avoidance IMHO. I think it is time to try a new approach as the old one clearly is only a temporary solution. Mostly though, I want to send you my love and healthy wishes. I really hope that all of This Too Shall Pass for you!