After a Week, It Doesn’t Work Anymore.

Dylan has guitar class at school today. And he went to school … without his guitar.

Dylan had to practically leap over his guitar to get out the door.

I keep telling myself, This is the year he will do it on his own. He is old enough now. He has to train himself. I can’t keep doing it for him.

So, of course, I sent a note to the guitar teacher. But instead of begging forgiveness (which I did for the first five years of his schooling), I encouraged the teacher to be rough on him.

“Dylan has a long record of forgetting very important things,” I told her. “You probably have some extra guitars just for this purpose … but don’t make it easy on him. Maybe give him one that’s incredibly difficult on his fingers.”

I signed it with a smiley face.

Her note back was very kind, and said that she would remind the students again today how important it is to be prepared. She suggested a large note on the garage door to remind him to bring his guitar.

She doesn’t realize that we’ve tried the “large note” trick before. It works for a week, then – like everything we’ve tried – after a week, it doesn’t work anymore.


A few hours later, I got an email from his math teacher.

“Dylan has completed the wrong assignment the past 2 nights. But, I checked his agenda and he did have the correct assignment written down. I have talked to him about making sure that he checks his agenda before he begins his homework, instead of trying to remember it. It may be a good idea if you could check to see that he has his agenda out when completing homework for the next couple of nights.”

I almost laughed out loud. I tried to tell them weeks ago that the agenda book lost its usefulness after the first week Dylan used it in fourth grade but no one listened to me. And surely I am not expected to make sure my 13-year-old has his agenda book out when he is doing his homework.

So I emailed her back, as well.

“I think a ‘zero’ on Dylan’s homework is definitely in order when he does the wrong work. He has to learn to live with his own consequences (now, so that he won’t flunk out of college). If he were in public school this year, he would get a zero and there would be no second chances. I am okay with that at his new school, too!  … I will do my best, but I feel pretty hopeless after seven years of failure in teaching him executive functioning skills.  Thanks for keeping me posted – and please do what you think will be best for him in the long run.”

He is going to get a lot of latitude, and a lot of help, in his new school. Hopefully it won’t be too much help – since obviously, he isn’t taking charge of his responsibilities quite yet.

But he’s not feeling the tremendous pressure and anxiety he had last year, either. And I’m hopeful that that will allow him the opportunity to do exactly what he needs to do for himself.

But just in case, I’m writing up a new contract for the school year.

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