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.