I understand (and remember) how difficult it is to be a teenager; I truly do (maybe because I had a more difficult teenager-hood than most, but that’s really neither here nor there). I also really understand how difficult it is to be the parent of a teenager, and while I don’t claim to have it all figured out, I comfort myself in the knowledge that I’m doing a better job with my children than was done with me.
Punkin is having a hard time getting the hang of being responsible for things. She does marginally okay with her possessions. Though I do have to give her a huge shout-out for being careful and conscientious with her phone and her instrument and other expensive, difficult-to-replace items, she kinda sucks at things like keeping her room clean or her book bag organized (though, to be fair, I chalk that up to typical teenager monkey-brain, and I’m willing to give her a lot of runway on stuff like that).
What really disturbs me, though, and what’s the primary focus of my mothering of her at the moment, is her seeming incapacity to get on top of her schoolwork. Last year was a rough one for my baby; she didn’t do well at all at keeping track of the work that she had to do outside of class and, as a consequence of her irresponsibility in doing and handing in homework, her grades suffered greatly.
Here’s the thing; my kid is brilliant. There is nothing whatsoever that hinders her cognitive ability. Further, she lives in a disgustingly stable, loving, and supportive household. Still further, she has a designated space set aside for her use, access to supplies and technology, and all the academic support she could possibly need (and not just from her father and me, either; we understand that, often, support has to come from people who aren’t one’s parents). There is no reason at all that this kid shouldn’t be nailing the academic part of her high school experience.
After last year’s tribulations, we sat down together and talked about what she needed to do to not repeat that experience. She expressed, clearly and intelligently, that she understood where she fell down, so to speak, and that she had a handle on what needed to happen going forward. She asked that, for the first marking period, her dad and I step off; she wanted to spend the first month of classes doing things her way and proving to us that she could do it without our breathing down her neck every afternoon.
Can you see where this is going?
I logged on to the parent portal for the high school last week and discovered that not only is Miss Madam missing several assignments (her high water mark was 12), but she’s also failing a class and is well below what we agreed her minimum grade would be in three others.
Last week, I asked her to get her teachers to sign off indicating that she’d handed in all the late work listed in the portal. When she failed to do that for two straight days, I showed up at school at the end of the day (like I promised I would) and dragged her around to the teachers who were still in the building, making it clear to them that, until Punk got her proverbial feet underneath her, Mama was going to be on the scene.
I thought (hoped) that this would be mortifying enough to set her straight, but I discovered this morning that wasn’t so. She’s currently at her homework table and I just sent this email off:
I do not want to be the kind of parent who’s up in her kid’s business all the time, but at this point, Punk’s in need of an intervention. She was given just enough rope this quarter to hang herself after promising NOT to repeat her abysmal performance of last year. She’s proven to me that she’s not quite ready to be left to her own devices yet, so I’m stepping in.
I’m a teacher myself, so I understand the scene from both sides of the desk, as it were. I know, too, that Punk is not only smart enough to excel, but also that she has a stable home environment and all the tools, resources, and aid she could possibly need; there’s no earthly reason for her to EVER miss a homework assignment or to do poorly in a class. Until she can prove to me that she’s on top of her responsibilities in school, I’m going to be on top of her. I’m willing to let her hate me for a while if that’s what it takes.
I arranged with Mrs. Tesla that Punk will be spending an hour every Monday after school in the science classroom doing her work. I’ll be checking into MMS regularly and requiring Punk to ask her teachers to sign off on any work she’s missing. I’ll try my best to not make a pest of myself, but I’ll keep your email address so that I can verify with you the stories she’s telling me until I see that she’s staying current and I can trust her again.
Thank you for the work that you do. I understand and appreciate how much work that truly is, and I’m grateful for what you offer to my daughter.
Here’s hoping I don’t have to be a pain in my kid’s ass for long; it’s not my favorite part of mothering.