Break out the balloons! There is cause for raucous celebration in my household this week! No, not my birthday, we already did that. It’s an event that, frankly, we had our doubts would ever to come to pass. Emily has officially graduated from middle school. Woo-hoo! Whew! We can all breathe a collective sigh of relief. Thank God that’s over.
We were really sweatin’ it these last few months. In April, she had an average grade of 42 in Science, a 56 in math and a 66 in American History. Her grades have always been terrible, but this last year of junior high was particularly butt-kicking. I think the eighth grade curriculum is designed by evil torturists bent on weeding out the weaker students by forcing them to undergo cruel and unusual punishments such as memorizing the structure of an atom and reciting every single historical date from the time the Mayflower landed on Plymouth Rock to Obama’s latest Hawaiian vacation.
Let’s face it, you really can’t get much worse than a 42. It seems to me that if you just show up to class and remain semi-conscious you should earn at least a 50. I can’t fathom this. Poor Emily lives in a house of high achievers, so we expect at least a little bit of effort on her part. Unfortunately, she gets to enjoy a lifetime supply of “Get it Together or Else” lectures from me, which usually go something like this:
“Listen, little missy, you’d better bring these grades up in the next two months or you’re going to flunk junior high. And if you do that, you are going to miss out on all the super-fun activities and experiences of high school, such as 4 more years of even harder homework. If you miss out on high school, then you are going to end up jobless and living in a cardboard refrigerator box, licking discarded candy wrappers for nourishment.”
I delivered one of more variations of this speech daily, but I don’t think she was listening. I’m pretty sure she was thinking, “Hey, candy!” instead.
School has always been a challenge for Emily. Early on, hubby and I knew that she was “learning resistant”. She took her own sweet time (much later than her sister) doing everything from sleeping through the night, potty-training, learning to count, learning to read, etc. She defiantly ignored all the benchmarks that the experts touted in those stupid “What to Expect” books that we were reading and stressing out over in the late 90s.
When she was in third grade, hubby and I got called in for a “conference” with a team of her elementary teachers and counselors. She had some testing done, and it was revealed that she has some issues with short-term memory, attention and concentration. I was in denial for a long time, but after a while, we decided it was best to have her certified “learning disabled” in the area of math. Curiously, she has no problems with reading and writing, and in fact, excels and scores very high in these areas.
So with memory issues, you can imagine what a nightmare school must be. If you think about it, school is mostly about memorizing facts and figures, which is why math and science and even history totally suck for her. She has “accommodations” in math class to help, such as charts and visual aids, a calculator, and modified state tests. But in all the other subjects, she is left on her own. This is frustrating for a parent because it’s really up to US to teach her homework and studying skills. We drilled her and forced her to study when she didn’t want to, and I’m pretty she hated us more than ever this year. One thing I’ve learned…I do not have a future as a teacher, that’s for sure.
I believe her lack of achievement by school standards is no way a predictor of her ability to achieve and succeed as a future adult. And even though the system is set up to fail kids like her, that doesn’t mean we should give up aiming for success in school. If we just gave up (and believe me that would be WAY easier) and just accepted that 42 in science with a shrug of our shoulders, that would be a huge disservice to Emily. So even though she hated us for most of the 2012-2013 school year, I still think the screaming (her) and crying (me) was worth it.
Like other moms with “learning resistance” kids, we spend our nights imagining our kids in worst-case career scenarios such as a burger flipper at Wendy’s, a cashier at Wal-mart, or a crabby, bubble-gum chewing customer service representative for a telemarketing firm. My husband is much less fatalistic. He thinks I’m ridiculous. He reminds me that she is a perfectly average student, makes 70’s most of the time, and just because she’s not an A+ student doesn’t mean she is not going to do something great to change the world.
He’s right of course. But I’ve still got 4 more years of high school to drag her through, kicking and screaming, whether she likes it or not. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to let her fail. And by the way, she brought those three bad grades up to 70s, and managed to get promoted to high school.
Like I said, this is cause for Celebration, people!!! No homework and no Mom Speeches (at least about grades) for three months!! Pass out the party favors!!