07 February 2011

Our New World Order

The Report Cards have arrived. And, for some in the pack, they are not good. Frighteningly bad, I might say. So, we must re-order our priorities. This will be a challenge for all involved.

Grades are no longer a surprise for my high schoolers, because the district posts them online, and I can check in every two weeks and see how things are progressing. This has not been a source of comfort for me. I have watched in horror this quarter as Two's grades slipped farther and farther into the "Cumulative Abyss"- the point from which, no matter how well you do, there is no way to raise your average.

In contrast, Three's school sends a mid-term progress report, and then we wait to see how it all turns out. I know what you're thinking. I could flip through his binders and check his test scores. I could maintain contact with his teachers to make sure he's completing his assignments. I could act like a concerned parent. Yes; I completely own my failings. But in my defense, I would remind you that I have a lot of kids. They all have homework, and the younger ones, especially those who are extra bouncy by the end of the day, REALLY need me to supervise. As they get older, I kind of want them to pick up the slack and get their stuff done without me having to stand over their shoulder. But The Report Cards have spoken, and deemed this folly.

The Captain and I sat down to create the new rules. This is not our first rodeo. Previously, we have encouraged; we've threatened; we've seen improvement, and then we forget the rules. So, it seems the success of this plan rests upon...us. Mostly, me. Because now I must implement, supervise, and evaluate the process. I must become a middle manager, and I'm pretty sure I don't have the clothes for the  job. Okay, honestly, I don't want to wear the clothes. I find suits constraining, I will do almost anything to avoid wearing pantyhose, and I much prefer Converse to pumps.

I think I am angry about The Report Cards because they have forced me to rewind my life plan. This year has been fairly successful for me, especially when compared to where I was two years ago. All of my children are in school full time. No one is suffering from paralyzing anxiety. When the phone rings, I no longer fear it will be a school calling me to come and collect my child. I have free time. All of which, when combined, allows me to write, and imagine a future with that as my primary occupation.

But now, The Report Cards have pulled me out of that dream, to remind me I still have children to raise. Some of them have special needs, and may be with me well into their adulthood. And as I write that sentence, I realize I'm not angry. I'm sad. Because, more than me wanting a life without them, I want them to have a life without me. Especially the ones that have no extraordinary challenges. I need them to grow up and move on, so I have space for the ones that may stay behind.

So, in true Protestant fashion, I am pulling myself up by my bootstraps, and dragging the boys with me. We are headed to the New World-a land of limited cell phone usage, no facebook, and only one social event per weekend. It will be arduous for us all, but I come from hardy immigrant stock. The success of this journey depends, to a large degree, upon my stamina. And I am willing to endure Two's protest slings and Three's whining arrows to ensure that someday they will blaze their own trails.

10 comments:

  1. Oh hell I remember those days like they just happened. Um, wait, they did. I too have one that will never be completely independent. It is a complicated feeling when you realize it. On the plus side, many times they do better than we ever imagined that they would.
    We shall be with you in spirit. Know that many of us have stood there, where you are. And we didn't die from it. I promise.
    Julie

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  2. Ohhh the strength and bravery of motherhood. This is why I have... cats. I was just reading a few of your posts and I admire what you are up to there, ma'am. Good luck with the homework. I've finally hooked myself up to the Master Betty RSS Feeder, and shall be watching your future with great interest. :-)

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  3. Welcome London Mabel! I haven't figured out the Feeder, so hats off to you! I do think of you, often, because of the Betty Blogs. When a comment posts to my Blackberry, it shows up as [The Lon...] on my screen, and my brain persists in only recognizing that as London. So, a half-dozen times a day, I think, "Oh, I wonder how London Mabel is doing?" It must have REALLY wanted you to stop by. So thanks for that!

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  4. This makes me a little sad, too. You are doing so great. I hate to contemplate anything that might derail your progress. Still, I can't help but feel that 2011 is Your Year. (or maybe second half 2011 and first 2012.) Perhaps the New World Order will become more commonplace soon.

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  5. Argh. Let me say from the teacher's viewpoint, I want to huddle behind an upturned table to shield myself when I post grades and send midterm reports. I get a lot of "You stupid lazy bitch teacher, why didn't you call me every time my kid missed one on a worksheet so I could yell at you about being incompetant!"

    SO, hurrah to you for your genuine concern and your plan to make your sons accountable for doing their best work.

    And please keep writing. Maybe the NWO will become a self-policing entity soon.

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  6. You have every ounce of sympathy, respect, and admiration I have to give today. It's not easy, but we'll be here to listen when you need to vent. Good luck.

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  7. This one is making me cry a bit. I think I'm just in that kind of mood this morning. Feeling as if some of the life's battles never, ever end.

    I've recently had the opportunity to attend a homework evening at the House of Male Appendages. And Megan, I was overwhelmed by your job - and I was only observing! There are so many moving pieces. Moving bodies, moving arms, moving MOUTHS! Lost papers, lost books, lost backpacks. And you, presiding over all of it as principal, teacher and drill sargeant. So impressive! But so much frakking work!!

    But the new world order will certainly help. The big boys care about this stuff and they want to do a good job. They will respond. I just wish that it didn't require so much hard work from their mother!

    At all costs, keep your writing high up on your list of priorities. You may have to shuffle some things around, but don't put your own growth and interests at the bottom. Your writing isn't an indulgence; it's your future.

    And think about where you can import a little extra help. Maybe an after school tutoring program for one of the older guys? Or a hand with one of your other responsibilities? You are absurdly good at your job, but that doesn't mean that you are required to do every last drop by yourself before you are allowed to attend to your own dreams. Those dreams are just as important in their way to your Pack as those report cards!

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  8. @ Janet: Amen.
    @ Megan: Listen to Janet and all of the others regarding your writing.

    I say this with admiration for what you do and how you do it, and with trepidation because our report cards will likely arrive tomorrow and I fear I will also need to implement some kind of NWO! We will soon be getting Dear Warden letters slipped under the door...

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  9. Thank you all for the encouragement! I'm not giving up on the writing. The boys and I are all in a better place, and I hope we all keep moving forward. The NWO has been implemented, and everyone is adapting. It's only been two days, so I'll keep you posted. Let me add, if any of you need a crash course in graphing inequalities using rise over run, Janet's your go-to girl!

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  10. I'm a teacher and a mom, and last year when the Report Card monsters came after my son, I hired a tutor. Sometimes it is hard to parent and to teach - the lines get blurred and everyone gets exhausted. We made a check list and hung it on the fridge - kiddo checks it everyday (brought home all books, completed homework, did required reading, etc...) and then once a week when signed papers come home, he gets a reward if his grades are acceptable. Missing homework, evidence of not studying, etc.... all those things cost him. He either earns the reward, or he loses it. This has been very effective. I also explained that the money needed to pay the tutor came out of the "fun" budget and cut back on movies, toys, arcades... his grades came up after just three months, and now I nag much less.

    You have my admiration for managing to keep 5 kids fed and clothed... I don't know how you do it. But I really hope you are able to keep writing.

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