Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

The Joys (or not) of Parent-Teacher Interviews September 9, 2011

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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.