This week we had the joy of parent teacher interviews. Since there are two men-children, it requires either both of us to attend so we can split the interviews with their teachers, or one of us has to see twice the number of teachers as any other parent (that can involve several hours). Thankfully this year Father of a Man-Child and I split the task – and even then it was a killer – let’s face it how many people feel like going to the school at 8pm on a Monday night – what were they thinking?
Not surprisingly it was a mixture of good news and bad. Good news – doing homework, improving behaviour in class, some good results etc. Bad news – not doing enough homework or revision, not turning up for class on time, not organised, distracting others in class……one of the men-children in particular falling into the latter news category. Sadly for us, it’s a recurrent theme, and has been for three years now. If we don’t decide to pull him out of the school, it may be the school asks him to leave. This is a real possibility at the end of next year (year 10) which is crunch time for the boys, as they head into the all important Years 11 and 12. Important for the boys, and let’s face it, important for the school’s reputation and grade averages!!!!
It’s quite difficult to sit with your son and be supportive when you learn that he has failed to hand in homework on numerous occasions, knowing that every night you have asked if all homework is done. Moreover, knowing that you get them up each day to be out the door in a timely fashion, yet somehow they can never be on time to school?
At the P/T interviews (that’s Parent/Teacher for those of you who are new to this stuff), we bumped into one of the men-children’s head teachers. Quite frankly she’s a delightful and seriously pragmatic teacher of boys, who really understands them. We have exchanged numerous emails over the last 12 months, so now know each other well – I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not? 🙂
Anyway, we cast each other a knowing glance as we met to chat briefly, with Man-Child II accompanying me. The topic of conversation was her recent email, which was to let me know that our son was now the proud owner of such a huge number of demerit points and detentions that they had escalated the issue to the head of middle school. A fact our son had failed to mention for some reason? Sadly it seems the demerit and detention system has absolutely NO impact on the man-child’s behaviour – it’s akin to water off a duck’s back. I understand the head of school left him quite clear that the current spate of lateness and other offences leading to the detentions was to stop, as this situation could not continue without future consequences. Hmmm, I certainly hope he’s successful, but I’m not convinced.
The pain point for this man-child is that he is fast earning himself a reputation in the school for being a difficult student – not a place you want to be in my view. It just becomes increasingly difficult to get teachers to invest in you if they think you’re already a pain in the butt! Thankfully I still saw signs the other night of wonderful teachers who are really keen for all their students (including my sons) to succeed under the tutelage. If anything, like us, they are just frustrated to see boys who don’t make the most of the opportunities granted to them, and don’t achieve their best.
Easy in hindsight isn’t it? Personally, detentions and slackness are quite foreign to me – I was such a goody two shoes at school I handed out detentions to other students. Maybe this is the payback? LOL! Any hints to assist in reducing detentions or motivating the men-children welcome. As you know bribery via a cash incentive is already on the table.
Read about “Money The Great Motivator” here.
How about boarding school for a term, with no overnight leave? Couple of my friends did short stints at scotch boarding school to curb behaviour…. Its a make or break,, but seemed to get good results.
I like your thinking new Mum. The idea has come up before and I was concerned that we were just delegating parental responsibility to someone else by sending him to boarding school. However, based on your comments, perhaps we should revisit the idea, at least for a term as a trial. Thanks for the advice!
Once they go into Year 11, and get to choose their own subjects you will see a big change! Year 10 in my opinion is the “worst’ year! You are not alone and it does get better! I have known kids to come out of boarding school for a year and it has not made an ounce of difference! Hang in there it is all part of finding their way and growing up.
Thanks Kim in Perth. Based on Year 9 then I’m dreading Year 10!! I was hoping the electives in Years 9 & 10 would save the day, but it appears not. Let’s face it, if they hate the core subjects you’re in trouble aren’t you? And I think in this instance the teacher he has can make a real difference to our son. We thought we’d consult Man-Child II (without Man-Child I’s input!) and see if he actually thinks boarding school would be worthwhile. It has some upside – 6am rowing starts are much easier. And even he should admit his study habits are terrible (read non-existent). This parenting thing doesn’t get any easier does it? It’s a minefield.