Graduation Day

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He was up until 1:30am working on a final English assignment to turn in on the last possible day to submit work for grading (of course), but…..he did actually graduate high school. On a Friday the 13th (of course, again).

Love the decorated caps.

Love the decorated caps.

Eve & Renee out supporting The Kid.

Eve & Renee out supporting The Kid.

With Grandparents

With Grandparents

With big brother

With big brother

With the whole family.

With the whole family.

With mom & dad

With mom & dad

Not sure which of us is happier!

Not sure which of us is happier!

Tassles are a pain...

Tassles are a pain…

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Look guys! They screwed up and gave me one of these things!

Look guys! They screwed up and gave me one of these things!

The Remains of the Day

The Remains of the Day

Senior!

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He took pity on me since I’ve been doing first day of school drop offs from 1990-2013 and this was officially my LAST ONE! He was oddly in a better mood for a 1st day as well – his schedule was posted last night and he’s (mostly) happy with the results though he still has to visit the counselling office to get himself into AP Physics. Here’s hoping that good mood lasts!

 

Oct 6 – High school English still sucks

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I don’t remember reading Gatsby in school, but I do remember who played him originally in a movie and this is how I picture him as I read it now!

 

A side effect of a concussion as we have learned in our house is a reduction in cognitive abilities.

 

Naturally we joke that when you start off with a low bar on that skill set, that some brain bruising might be hardly noticeable! Heh. Aren’t we a supportive bunch?

 

But honestly, I do see the change in 16. He does take longer to react or respond to conversation here and there. It’s inconsistent. And I can definitely see that he has to work hard TO concentrate when he wants to.

 

He told all his teachers right away when this time and he missed school for two days because attempting to focus in class just made the headache double in intensity. Once he went back he asked them for help over the next couple of weeks. Extra time on homework and quizzes and postponement of any major tests. They have all been very cooperative.

 

With English though, he cannot fall too far behind since the class only has so many days to discuss the book they are reading this month – Great Gatsby. So his teacher is allowing him to use Sparks Notes to lessen the reading time. Of course, since I love to revisit the high school literature with him, he asked me to also read the book and help him answer the chapter questions. Happy to oblige, and having seen his anemic scores from the assignments on Ch 1-3, I read through Chapter 4 for him. I read it *knowing* I would have to answer 11th grade English questions.

 

The next night we sat down to answer the assigned questions and that is when I remembered that I kinda sucked at high school English!

 

Apparently my literary comprehension skills (symbolism, hidden meanings, interpretations, analysis…etc) are no better than they were 30 years ago.

 

Chapter 4:

1)      Why is the catalog of Gatsby’s guests included?

2)      Why does Gatsby call Nick “old sport”?

3)      Why does Wolfsheim mourn the passing of the Metropole?

4)      What is ironic about Gatsby’s appraisal of Jordan?

5)      What is significant in Jordan’s remark that Daisy’s voice has an amorous tinge?

6)      Why does Gatsby want Daisy to see his house?

 

See, my problem is that I read books just to enjoy the story. On its’ surface. Nothing more. I’m not great at appreciating language use and prose and recurring themes and…yada yada. It was such a struggle to answer those questions and it took me skimming back and 16 concurrently reading the Sparks Notes online for us to answer them!

Now, he did get a much better grade on that assignment. He also scored 100% on the quiz in class. So, that’s something at least!

But I honestly cannot give him too much hassle for poor English grades. I get it. Apple. Tree. Yeah.

Another One Bites The Dust

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Another summer – done!  Another school year begins. Here’s the status I just dropped on Facebook:

First day of 11th grade!

No, I didn’t take any pictures (I am lame and he wouldn’t have allowed it anyway).

No, I didn’t honk and encourage cars to run over the students streaming across the intersection when the light was green (I just thought about it).

No, I didn’t honk at or flip off the driver in the drop off line who gummed up the whole mess letting out two kids whose backpacks were in the trunk and apparently impossible to remove in the normal 30 seconds. (that was incredibly self-disciplined of me).

Yes, I did hear other drivers honk and yes, I did see one driver completely confused to the point of ending up in the middle of an intersection during a red light. 

The good news? I think everyone got through it all relatively unscathed. High school drop off is not for the weak!

The real kicker there is that we were arriving EARLY today so he could pick up his official schedule (we had looked online last night to see the periods and teachers but he still didn’t have his classroom numbers). I am, of course, blaming the new Freshman parents and students for all the drama. It should settle out within 30 days and then only be marginally scary 🙂

An interesting development last night as he attempted to wrap up his online math class before school started: he showed signs of *actually* caring about the grade he will earn! The first semester class he ended up with an 88% and had pretty much been carrying that from the first section. The second semester has been harder and he’s been flirting around the 80% line the whole time. The grading isn’t weighted – there are a total number of points available so you can figure out what you need to earn to get certain levels of grades. Well, when he was done with the final exam last night at around 9:30pm he didn’t sound pleased. I asked if he was done and he said yes, for the night he was done, but he wanted to go back and “clean up” some homework assignments and discussions to pick up more points (he has until the 31st).

Wow! He actually WANTS to go find more points? Does that mean he CARES about his grade and GPA?

Shhhhhhh……..don’t let on that I noticed that 🙂

Motivating the motivator

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I’ve written a couple of posts about finding motivation for my teenager. I’ll update on that particular task shortly, but in the course of writing most recently about finding my focus again, I mentioned to classic To Do list.

The page pictured above is from the notebook that I started using when Eve & I began working together. That’s my page of tasks for last week. Check marks everywhere indicate that I did a pretty good job of completing it. The last item was added later in the week and I suspected it might roll into today at least to complete.

In addition to making sure I don’t forget anything these lists help to motivate me as well as to keep my focus on the important tasks.

I keep a similar list at my day job – a place where it can be quite easy to lost focus and motivation because – hey – accounting aint always the most entertaining of tasks! Several things I do are exceptionally tedious even for my detail oriented brain and having that visual always at my side with the list of what I need to complete that day/week really helps to snap me out of any “dear god do I *really* have to keep searching these 1000’s of lines for that $5 discrepancy?” doldrums.

I know some folks can utterly ignore a To Do list, but I can’t. Must be another aspect of that mild OCD going on. but I have GOT to check items off or I can feel them dangling over my head.

For some reason, they need to be handwritten too. I’ve tried keeping task lists in my calendar program or my phone and they just don’t trigger the same “Gotta Do This!” inspiration.

Nope – I need the old fashioned hand written list. So if you are struggling to keep things inline – give it a try. Amazing how something so simple can work so well!

Now, on to the teen…….

So a few weeks ago I overheard him say to someone while he was playing Xbox that “Playing video games and football keeps me calm”

I thought that was an interesting self-assessment he had. Makes sense – teenage boys are filled with testosterone and I am sure that playing a contact sport and some interactive military style video games provides an outlet for that.

It also makes sense in that it was the prospect of losing football via bad grades that motivated him to pull up 3 D’s to C’s in the second semester of school. He also earned a 3 on his AP World History exam which, considering he did NO EXTRA STUDYING is pretty darn good. Not enough to earn college credit in most cases (needed a 4 or 5 for that), but it’s considered passing and will still look good on his transcripts. Plus, being his first AP exam and given that he could be taking 3 next year, it is was great practice.

He started summer off needing to balance his Xbox playing time with his online math class that he is taking in order to get into AP Calc in the fall. Since he is taking an entire year of Pre-Calc in just three months it is pretty fast paced and the requirement was that he finish up the 1st semester by this Friday and start the second semester on Monday. He started off fine, but then in his typical style, he fell behind. So last weekend we removed his Xbox and told him he couldn’t have it back until he was back on pace. Who knocked out a crap ton of work last week in order to get his gaming system back? 🙂  Not only did he blow through it, but he’s maintaining a 91% so far and will easily be done by Friday.

Baby steps…

 

Finding motivation in new places

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So clearly all these years 15 has displayed the motivation described above on the football field, but never in the classroom. And while baby steps in terms of perhaps focusing on a desired area of study have been made, there has still only marginal improvements made on the grade book. He still declares that all he really needs is a 2.0 in order to play sports and that’s all he’s going to try and get (sigh…)

College was still too abstract for him.

I ran into a friend last weekend who told me that his son who 15 played sports with for years was also that way. They had hired tutors during jr high and then sent him to a private high school in the hopes of improving grades with similarly marginal success. So after another lackadaisical freshman year they decided to spend summer vacation touring college campuses. Show their son the possibilities out there. And that worked. He fell in love with a few of the schools, found out what grades he would need to get in, and this year he is getting straight As in 10s grade without any assistance from anyone. Oh, doesn’t that sound heavenly?!!

Of course, 15’s dad and I don’t have that kind of budget – BUT – I did see that the district was hosting a college fair and that over 100 schools would have representatives there. You know, the poor man’s version of a college tour 🙂

Oh, how he whined about the idea! His dad, thankfully, thought it was a great plan and so we dragged the grumpy bugger there. First he whined that he would be the only 10th grader there. And then he ran into his fellow football players in his grade and his best friend. Ok, so now he wasn’t SO miserable since he could see there was some social acceptance to being there. He sees other kids carrying brochures from various schools making him a little more willing to at least stop at a few tables. We start joking about some of the locations. I suggest he should check out the Fashion Institute. Now he’s laughing and a little more open to the whole process. As we turn to the back row we pass the table for UCSD which I thought might be a good fit for him given his interest in computers, their stellar computer science programs, and the fact that I went there and it is local. Unfortunately the lady at the booth was pretty useless as a recruiter and once we talked about GPA requirements it was pretty clear the amount of change he would have to make in his study habits would be pretty intense (a 3.7! Yipes!).

And then….his dad walked towards the University of New Mexico table. Long ago he had considered UNM for law school due it’s pretty cheap tuition rates. The school offers some pretty easy to attain goals towards being granted in state tuition even coming from out of state. The minimum GPA for admittance is a 2.5 and a 3.0 gets you that in state scholarship. It’s a D1 NCAA school with a full regimen of sports. Basketball is huge there, but the important thing is that they have football. In fact, 15’s JV coach went there and played there primarily due to his speed. Like 15, he was a small but fast wide receiver. The recruiter was this really great older gentleman – not too pushy or sales weasly – just very enthusiastic about his school and also very good at finding out what the prospective student was looking for. 15 responded very well to him actually answering questions on his own vs deferring to one of us as he often does with strange adults in a new situation. 10 minutes at that table and we were planning a road trip to Albuquerque over next year’s spring break! They have an engineering/computer science program. It’s not anywhere near a frozen tundra or a snowy winter climate (must avoid for 15). Nor is it in the deep south or Texas (another avoid in his mind though his dad and I were pushing for Austin). It is driving distance for people like us who love to drive, but would also be a pretty quick flight if needed.

Bottom line? All three of us walked away thinking it was a very valid possibility for him.

The deal clincher MAY have been that no essay is required!!!!!!!!!!

Dear Betty Lou

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I’m pretty sure 15 is going to drive me to stow away on a cruise ship soon. Preferably one heading someone warm with fizzy umbrella drinks being served hourly.

Probably one of the biggest issues I’ve noticed with him is his lack of ability to develop good working relationships with his teachers. He acts like talking to them and asking for help and or asking for clarification on a grade (or lack of one) equates to a death sentence.

He will constantly tell me what’s WRONG with his teachers of course, but he will never address anything on his own. According to him – moms of teens say it with me – they all suck! They hate him! Blah blah whine whine.

Even with me being on top of his assignments to the best of my ability, he is still getting zeroes on homework. Homework that he actually DOES! How the eff does that happen? I watch him do it, watch him put it in the proper subject notebook (with his damn name on it yes) and STILL that goddam red box appears.

When I tell him to ask about it – “Oh, I don’t know what happened but it’s too late now because excuse excuse excuse…” Argh! How can he just accept that?!

Well, I don’t and today I emailed two teachers about those – I’m waiting on a response but really..I don’t get that it is so hard to ask them while he is there? “Hey Prof, I showed you this on Friday – see, you stamped it – why is it a zero on the gradebook?” Why so difficult?!!

What I need to do is get him to think of his teachers as football coaches.

Why?

Because he LOVES them! He develops relationships with them! We saw his football coach while we were at the school Saturday watching a baseball game – no hesitation but he was right up there giving Coach a fist bump and chatting away. He’s TOLD me about times he’s spoken with him about improving his skills. He mentions when coach tells him he ran a good route in practice. All through Pop Warner he had no problem talking to Coach Wolfie.

WHY can’t he apply those techniques to his teachers???!!!!!

I’m telling ya – Bahamas – here I come – and don’t try to find me until he graduates. And if he doesn’t? Fine – just send sun screen.

Love, me.