dumbstruck trilogy…


I’ve said this before, but I think it bears repeating; parents today have an unfair advantage over their children’s school performance records. Why, if my parents had been able to spy my grades whenever they felt the need to while I was in high school, I think I would have been grounded most weekends. Thankfully, my children are much better students than I was, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need the occasional reminder to do better.

So was the case this past week when the doll, eager to show me her all “A” end of the first quarter grades, asked me to open the online reporting system. After congratulating her on her accomplishments, I quickly jumped over to see how the boy was fairing. All A’s except for a pesky B in English. Curious, I opened the link to his class and found that since the start of October, he failed to turn in his assignments. “Bay…” I called him into the kitchen.

“What’d ya need Momma?” He asked, entering the kitchen carrying his iPod for viewing and earbud headphones comfortably resting in his ears. “Bay, what’s going on with this class?” I asked pointing to the screen shot. “Yeah, I’m carrying a B- in the class, no big deal,” He replied. “Bay, I’m not concerned about the “B-“, bur rather the reasons listed here for why you have that grade. You have two in-completes and three missing assignments. What’s going on?” I asked. Lifting his left hand to his eyes to rub, he replied, “I’m having a trouble finding the time to get that work done…” He replied.


I was dumbstruck.

“What?” I asked hoping he would elaborate on his answer. “I’m too busy. Haven’t you ever noticed how stressed out I am in the morning? That’s when I do all my English homework; in the mornings, before school and I’m always running out of time,” He explained.


Even more dumbstruck by his explanation.

“Bay, when you come home from school, what is your usual routine?” I asked. “What do you mean?” He replied. “I mean, what do you usually do when you come home from school… oh and let’s say this is after one of your clubs, just to be fair,” I explained. “When I get home around four thirty, the first thing I do is make myself something to eat, before I get started on any of the homework I didn’t finish at school,” He replied. “So, that’s like what, three hours of work?” I asked giving him what I thought was a generous window of time in which to get his work finished. “Yeah, so…” He replied. “Well, let’s see…that takes you up to about 8:00 pm. Yet everyday I see you connected to that iPod from eight until eleven when you go to bed…a full three more hours in which, you could finish that English…” I said.

He was not amused.

“That’s my “free time”, he replied.


I couldn’t believe it! That boy struck me dumb three times in one conversation.

“Free time? Free time? What in the heck is that and more importantly, why do you need free time? I mean you don’t have a job outside this house, so your number one job would be to keep your grades up. Wait, I know when you’re free time is… that’s the weekends at your grandmothers,” I replied. “You don’t understand the stress I’m under…” He argued. “Tell me… explain…” I replied. “I have a research paper I’m working on, plus I have interviews I have to arrange, take notes and then write…I need that free time to make sure I get everything accomplished,” he tried. “Everything except your English…” I countered and he walked out of the room. “Bay,” I continued as I followed him, “You want to be an English teacher, right?” He stopped, sat down and then nodded in agreement. “What will you tell your student who decides not to do his assignments for lack of “Free time?” “I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. I don’t understand what’s the big deal… I mean it’s a B- which isn’t a bad grade…” He came back.

“The big deal is that you’ve made an agreement with the school and your parents to do your best work and this B- is far from being your best. Next year when you’re in college, you will be the sole person responsible for keeping those grades up. In addition, if you choose not to do your very best, you’ll be wasting your own money, possibly even losing a scholarship or two in the process,” I tried. “You’re being over dramatic,” he argued. “Maybe so, but dude, if you can’t seem to manage the time you have now and get ALL your work done, you’ll be screwed in college,” I replied, then left him alone to contemplate improving his grades.



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