Sunday, June 3, 2018

D is for . . . Don't Get a D, Dammit

Once our daughter hit middle school and started receiving actual letter grades (instead of the gentler elementary school report card ratings like "meets expectations"), her dad and I shared some expectations with her. Basically, we didn't want to see anything lower than a C. Too much pressure? I don't think so, but I can see how you could make a case for that. In sixth grade (first year of middle school), she had some close calls but managed to complete the school year with A's and B's. Seventh grade has been a much more challenging year.

Apparently, I've now turned into the type of mom who squawks about "unmet potential." And bad decisions. My daughter is very bright. All of her teachers (in elementary and middle school) have assured me that A is 100% capable of doing the work that is assigned to her. What she lacks is . . . oh, what do you call it? Oh yeah - focus. Her grades this year started out great. However, I could tell from the first parent-teacher conference back in the fall that her science teacher was not messing around. She was not swayed by the sheer cuteness of the petite girl with the big curls. Instead, Mrs. F was exasperated by a kid who asked to stay after school to work on extra credit assignments but then ran her mouth with her friends instead. She had little patience for half-completed assignments and the like. You know . . . a lot like the real world?

All year long, I've been riding my daughter about her science grade. She kept assuring me that she'd do some extra credit and improve her grade. Alas, the grade is in and it is final: D+ - which, in my books, is basically a D, which is basically a hair above failure. She current has C's in English and Math as well. Those grades aren't listed as final, but I'm assuming they might be.

I should add that she has lots of good grades on her report card. She's doing well in her electives (like choir), as well as in World Cultures and Spanish. My frustration lies in the fact that the not-so-great grades are in core classes. She has one more year of middle school and then the clock starts ticking with her GPA in high school. Actually, it happens before that because she has signed up to take advanced Algebra next year, as well as a Spanish class that earns high school credit. I don't want to pressure her about college, but five years is not really that far away.

I know she is starting to think about college, though. She's been checking out our state's university system, and making note of which campuses are known to have good music programs. The seventh graders took a "career interest" test back in the fall and not surprisingly, my daughter's potential job titles included: singer, dancer, actor, and - I swear I am not making this up - magician. The seventh graders were split up by career interests and taken on field trips last week. My daughter's group went to a local theater.

I was torn about what to do about her shitty science grade. I decided to do two things: 1. Make her clean her room because it was starting to veer into "the health department will be calling" territory and 2. Make her choose her own consequence for her poor decision-making. After all, she chose not to study for her tests. She chose not to complete her assignments. Those were the decisions that she made. So today she chose her consequence: giving up her computer for a couple weeks. She doesn't need it for homework since this is the last week of school. She mostly only uses the computer to play Roblox while simultaneously watching "Liv and Maddie" reruns on her phone. It's gotten to the point where just hearing a few notes of the theme song sends me into convulsions. "We both know we're better in stereo!"  

So yeah, I've been torn about how to handle this. We set expectations and she didn't fully meet them. What's the right approach? Paying/rewarding for good grades or leveling consequences for disappointing ones? She has one job at this point in her life, which is to be a student. I feel like I would be failing her if I didn't set expectations. At the same time, though, I am immensely proud of my daughter. She's talented and kind and an all-around good person. For all I know, she'd give me a D+ for my parenting skills. I dunno.  :::sigh:::

I am looking forward to the end of the school year so that we can avoid the dreaded morning routine, though. Now that I work from home, I sometimes grab one of the dogs and walk her to the bus stop in the morning. It's nice to have the extra time since I don't have to drive anywhere. Speaking of which, the new job is going pretty well, I think. I've got six weeks under my belt and I'm learning a lot. I sometimes feel like I'm at a movie and everyone else got there before I did. I'm looking at the screen and asking, "Whose car is that? Why did they get pulled over? Is that Gwyneth Paltrow?" I'm not bored, that's for sure.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to inspect a bedroom to make sure that cups filled with fungus and whatnot have been removed.