Month: March 2017
Written this past Saturday, and shoved under Dylan’s door, where it was subsequently read but otherwise ignored:
Today is the conclusion of what was an incredibly good week for you. This week might have been the most successful I’ve seen in the past three years.
Your grades are – without any help from me – going from E’s to A’s in many classes. Your English grade jumped drastically after all your work on notecards. You have a B in there now! Your algebra grade went from an E to a C, and you still have to finish a test in there. You could have an A in that class! Your hard work is paying off. You have a HIGH B in Technology, and you could get an A in there, too! And your NSL grade is a VERY, VERY, VERY HIGH B – 87%! That’s an Honors class, so if you got an A in that… well, your Weighted GPA would jump a LOT.
This week, you also got an A on your Computer Science test: 23 out of 24 in a college-level class! While I always knew it was possible, I hadn’t seen you do it until this week. You are a brilliant human being. You put that brain into good use this week – and did your “job” (which is school) in a totally awesome way.
But your grades aren’t the only evidence. You did your 1.5-hour shifts of homework, mostly without complaining. You actually worked, even while you were singing. I don’t know how you do it, but I am not going to complain anymore about your singing. You can actually sing and work at the same time. You are an anomaly. (I may still complain when you play thrash metal.)
You came home with a ton of signatures this week. If you keep up this stuff, you will be off to North Carolina for a three-day weekend in May. [This is his “bonus” reward if he works hard and gets signatures.]
Equally important – maybe even more so for you – is that you wore your retainer eight days in a row. You may not know it, but I have been keeping track – and this is the first time in all of 2017 that you’ve worn it more than three days in a row. And you wore it for 8!!!!
I am really impressed with you. It’s been a great week for you, and if you keep it up, your grades will reflect it, your parents will get off your back, and you may even get a trip to North Carolina.
Congratulations, Son. I’m very proud of you. You should be proud of you, too.
“Shane,” I said, staring at his online grades. “What happened in English?”
“What do you mean?” he answered, barely looking up from his video game.
“Why are you missing two assignments?”
“Oh, I forgot to turn them in,” he said. “And now it’s too late.”
“You forgot to turn them in?”
I thought of Dylan and the many, many, many assignments he has turned in late, especially when he was in middle school. “It can’t be too late,” I said.
I emailed the teacher. The teacher emailed me back. It really was too late.
I couldn’t believe it. Shane had two zeros.
Two weeks went by.
Then, quite suddenly, Shane’s grade in band dropped from 100% to 97.3%. He was missing his weekly practice chart – a paper that represents five days of drum practice – from back in February. Shane has turned in a practice chart, on time, every week for nearly two years.
“Shane,” I said. “You’re missing a practice chart?”
“Oh, yeah,” he said.
“Where is it?”
“It’s in my room. I guess I just forgot to turn it in because there was a substitute.”
“Wait,” I said. “You mean you didn’t turn in your practice chart this week?”
“Yeah,” he said. “I forgot to.”
The missing practice chart on the computer was from two weeks ago.
Something inside me snapped a little.
“That means you have missed two practice charts this quarter!” I shrieked. “And you have two missing assignments in English! What’s going on, Shane?”
“I don’t know,” he said, quite calmly. “I guess I just need to put it somewhere in my binder where I can remember it.”
“I guess you do,” I said.
Since Dylan is the oldest, and first to go through school, I have no idea how I would have handled this with Shane if he had been the oldest, and forgotten four things in two months. Dylan has forgotten way, way, way more than four assignments.
But Dylan has ADHD. He has a biological reason for forgetting.
Shane just forgot to turn in his practice chart.
Twice. In two months.
I have no idea how to put that into perspective. I don’t know if I should worry.
Obviously, I am worried anyway. I am not worried that Shane has ADHD. I am worried that, even without ADHD, the teenage brain is somehow incapable of remembering vital pieces of information. Or maybe it’s the male brain. Or maybe it’s just people in my house. Maybe this is normal human behavior.
I have no idea!
Certainly, I have forgotten things. But I’m not sure I ever – even in my darkest teen years – forgot to turn in an assignment.
So now, just a little bit, I am holding my breath.
Dylan’s decision to drop out of the IB program has not changed our strategy in dealing with the “LD” part of his GT/LD-ness. If anything, in fact, it’s made our resolve stronger.
“You can’t take regular classes and not get A’s,” I told him. “And the only thing you really need to do to get A’s is to turn in your work.”
So he’s turning in his work.
He’s doing it in an unexpected way – but the signature sheet and the 1.5-hour homework shifts every evening are helping. In spite of his resistance to both things, he’s sitting down every evening and actually doing work.
He’s doing it with music blaring, and with non-stop singing. He never stops singing. But he is getting work done. He worked on his “source cards” (which, I assume, means his bibliography) for English for four days. At the end of those four days, all of the zeros he had in English were replaced with A’s.
He is getting A’s in English. It is work, but he is now doing the work.
He is nearly lying down in his chair. Sometimes one size 14 shoe is on the desk while the other is underneath him. He does his work while sitting like a pretzel or a log. But he is doing the work.
Yesterday he texted me from school: “I got an A on my Computer Science test,” he said.
It’s an AP class. And he got an A! He’s been keeping up with his work in the class, so he knows what he’s doing on the test, too!
He’s coming home with signatures on his signature sheet, too. He’s not happy about it. He complains every day about something that happened to make it hard for him to get a signature. But he’s getting those signatures.
He’s being proactive in talking to the teachers. For the first time ever, he knows when things are missing before I do.
When I told him he was missing five assignments – FIVE assignments! – in Government, he held up a folder.
“That’s what this is!” he nearly shouted. He flapped some papers around. “These are the five assignments! Now will you back off and let me do my work?!”
I have heard the term “back off” more times than I can count lately.
I am absolutely thrilled about that.
In fact, I am backing off. Finally.
I can actually do that now.
We have been thinking about IB classes for Dylan since he was in 7th grade. He’s an abstract, high-level thinker, but he’s a hands-on learner. So we decided to put him into the IBCP program – which is perfect for him.
For the IBCP program, Dylan needs to take one two-year IB class, and one one-year IB class. In addition, he needs to take the “pathway” classes, which he’s taken since 9th grade. Dylan chose the computer science pathway, so he’s already taking an AP class in computer science.
For one-year classes, he wanted to take IB music, IB psychology and IB theater. He was very excited about these.
But his two-year classes were less enthralling: IB History, IB Biology, IB Math and IB English. He took biology already and hated it. He’s struggled in math more than anything. So we tossed out those two – which left us with two years of IB History and two years of IB English.
We were still struggling with Dylan’s ability to keep up with the work in a “regular” (Honors) English class. I asked a friend about the History class, and she said it was substantially more homework than the IB English class.
So I sat down to talk to Dylan about it. I showed him the email from my friend, detailing the differences between the two classes. He read it, then stood up.
“I’m not doing it,” he said. “I’m not doing IB.”
And that was it.
Four years of planning, two years of cramming in classes, and all of my IB research – for naught.
In case it helped, I took Dylan’s list of colleges – the ones he picked from our various road trips – and crossed off the ones that would no longer accept him. I showed it to Dylan.
“Really?” he asked. “All of these?”
“Yes,” I said. “You can still apply, but if you don’t take IB or AP classes, they won’t even look at you.”
“Okay,” he said.
And off he went, into his non-IB world.
Surprisingly, the relief I felt was immediate and spectacular.