Yesterday I got a call from Sally. I didn’t recognize the number, but I answered my phone anyway. Sally was rather distressed. She is the mother of my son’s good friend Grant.
The first thought that came to my mind was…Oh crap, now what did my son do???!?
Sally told me that everyone thinks she is a horrible mother. Her son got four D’s on his report card. He told her that grades really don’t matter. She said that it didn’t make any sense because her daughter was upset that she didn’t get a 4.0. Thank goodness for our overachieving daughters or we would feel like awful parents.
My son has been struggling with his grades since 8th grade. He simply doesn’t care. We tried everything that we could think of doing. We grounded him from his computer, Xbox and friends. That just made his attitude worse and then he totally gave up. It didn’t work at all. He barely slid by without having to retake some classes in the summer. This semester he only got one D, so things are looking up.
I told Sally that I totally understand and that she isn’t a bad mother.
Look at my son! He has a brilliant mind if he applies himself. My husband Paul is a great chess player. I’ve never seen anyone beat him in person. Paul told the kids when they were little that he would buy them a car if they beat him at chess. Alex studied chess, played countless matches online, did tutorials, and joined the chess club at school. He worked hard and finally beat his dad.
Alex is also great at music. Last year he played an incredibly challenging piece for solo and ensemble. He received a perfect score at state. This year he decided to play a piece that is so challenging that he is having a hard time finding an accompanist to play this piece. One pianist said that the piece he chose would be something a doctorate candidate would play. It is very fast and extremely challenging. This is what he wants to do. But what great music college is going to accept a talented musician that has a GPA of 2.0?
Why doesn’t he take his A game to school with him? He has to decide that he wants good grades or it won’t happen.
When he was little, Alex sucked his fingers. We wanted to break him of the habit once he started school. I tried everything and nothing worked. I tried the spicy finger varnish that went on like nail polish. He stuck his fingers in his mouth and told me that he likes spicy. A couple months later he decided that he wanted to stop sucking his fingers and did.
I would call my son lazy, but I think he is just not motivated.
Both Alex and Grant worked really hard this last summer and made somewhere between $5,000 to $6,000. Sally and I both found out recently that the boys pretty much pissed away all of their money on fast food. There is no doubt that both boys probably paid for their friends to eat as well. Was there a lesson learned somewhere? What a waste!
Sally said that she didn’t know what to do. Ever since her son got his license he doesn’t want to hang around home anymore. Grant is her oldest child. What is she doing wrong? How could he do this when she has given him everything to help him succeed? The only advice her parents gave her in high school was not to get pregnant. She didn’t go on to school. She wants so much better for her son.
All of this is scary business for the first time mother of teenagers. I told Sally that everything would be okay. I told her that she is not a bad mother because her son was acting like an idiot.
The problem with being a parent of teenagers is that sometimes you have to watch them fail. Sometimes they make the wrong decisions and end up hurting themselves. It is heartbreaking as a parent to see this. I’m hoping someday that we can all laugh about this…like when they are parents of teenagers..
To think, I didn’t even tell Sally about the party at the cabin last summer.
It’s strange but I was able to use my own struggles to comfort another parent. We are in the same boat, I’ve just been in the boat a little longer to know how to respond to the waves that rock the boat.