The boy handed me a contract the other night, for both of us to sign, acknowledging that both parent and child new the importance of turning the end of the semester British Lit term paper, in on time. Reading the guidelines of the contract, I asked him, “What are you writing about?” “We’re allowed to pick anyone we admire…” He replied. “Oh yeah? Who did you pick?” I wondered. “Martin Scorsese,” he replied. “Nice…” I said before signing and handing him back the contract.
Over the course of this school year, I decided to take on a laid back approach to the boy’s grades, primarily because as a junior in high school, he should be keenly aware of where his grades need to be. As such, only on occasion have I gone looking for his grades online and for the most part have been happy with his level of work. That changed a few hours after signing the contract and finding out what his current grade in British Literature has become. “Bay, what the hell?” I asked, obviously flustered that he had dropped three letter grades. Peering over my shoulder to the computer screen he replied, “That’s because of my term paper…I’ve kinda fallen a bit behind.” “A bit behind? What does that mean?” I asked him to elaborate. Trying not get flustered by my questioning, he replied, “One of my online sources disappeared overnight and I haven’t found any replacement material yet.”
“When did this happen?” I asked. “A few days ago…” He replied. “Uh huh, and yet every night for the last week, you’ve played video games, been connected to the internet; laughing at programs or podcasts you follow for several hours at a time, rather than looking for your new source? What do you have to say for yourself?” As if not comprehending what I asked him at first, he simply stared back at me. As the seconds passed, his facial expressions began to change from “happy go lucky” bay to defensive “I need to find a way to get mom off my back about this” bay.Tired of waiting for his reply I asked, “Hello? You in there?” “I can hear you just fine mom…” He replied. “Well then, how about you tell me why you aren’t actively looking to catch up and find your source material?”
Realizing his mother was now onto his “I’m a bit behind ” act, he finally replied with the truth. “Because it’s the weekend”.
Ah, there’s the rub…
“Yes, you’re absolutely right and since you don’t have school or anything else on the agenda, you have 24-unfettered hours in which to do research with little to no interruptions. I mean, considering that you’re “behind” as you put it, means you need to work on the paper over the weekend to catch up, right?.” He stared back shooting daggers at me, to no avail. “So guess what? You’re going to bring your paperwork into the kitchen where I can see you actually working or that device you love, the one that’s constantly filling your ears with distracting nonsense, will be mine until mid summer. Got it?” Bowing his head he stomped out of the room…
“What’s got him all upset?” My husband asked and I filled him in. A few minutes later the boy appeared in the kitchen and began working on his paper. “I want you to know I’m not happy about this either…” The boy acknowledged. “No, you shouldn’t be. That device distracts you and keeps you from doing your work. Time to step up and set aside childish things…” “That’s not what I meant…” He tried. “I know what you meant. Now, get to work…”