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Thursday, October 20, 2011


It appears that certain crazy 8, who shall remain nameless, has been having a tough time. It seems that this certain young person, has failed to learn certain important and necessary academic skills... skills that carry over and lead to a successful life!  Stuff about homework.  And heavy parental intervention is required.
Stuff like turning in his/her homework.
Or perhaps, even knowing what the homework is.
Or where the homework is.
Or where the pencil to complete the homework is.
Or not being able to find a pencil sharpener.
Or sitting one's bum down at one's desk to do said homework.
Or noticing that a teacher hadn't posted the assigned homework to his/her website and that might probably for sure means that he didn't want the homework completed.  I think not!
Or forgetting the homework at school.
Or only completing part of his/her homework and getting distracted by the swimming pool... or the football... or the dust particles in the air... or breathing.
Or leaving his/her backpack, complete with homework, at school... or at home... or in the swimming pool.
Or lying about the completion of that aforementioned homework.
Or thinking that "studying" couldn't possibly be considered homework.
Or thinking that the teacher only meant to assign "the evens" of homework since they did that one time last year on the 3rd Thursday of February.
Or thinking that homework has a 30 minute time limit.
Or wrongly deciding that weekends mean that one should never ever mention or even think about homework.
Or deciding that doing some, rather than all, of one's homework was certainly good enough.

And now that this certain nameless individual is in middle school, no longer a little child, the crazy mama thinks Mr. No-Homework should know better by now.  She thinks, that if he/she chooses to redefine these homework expectations this young person should also be prepared to live with the consequences.  Which in our home means if you aren't doing your best in school, you get grounded till your grades reflect that you are.  We've laid years of foundation and now is the time to watch my baby birds spread their wings and fly... or not.  You dug the hole, you should get yourself out of it!  After all, I'd sat through at least 8 middle-school parent orientation meetings so far in my lifetime, and heard teacher after teacher say that this is the time to wean my kiddos off of parental homework assistance.  You know... let them suffer the consequences, and they'll learn!  Right?

Well... here's the problem with this parenting strategy for this particular kiddo.  Mr. I'm-just-not-gonna-do-all-my-homework-for-a-large-variety-of-reasons, was grounded the vast majority of the school year last year.  So frequently that I'm really embarrassed to tell you how much.  No friends after school or on weekends.  No sleepovers.  No cell phone.  No video games.  No parties.  No play dates.  And at a stage when kiddos are learning about a social world and their place in it, it was really a sad reality.  I was relieved when summer came, and he/she finally got to have some serious playtime.  Then school started and the crazy mama once again found herself shocked that only a week into school and said young person was up to old tricks.  Admittingly, sometimes the crazy mama isn't the sharpest light bulb in the crayon box.

So aforementioned young person was grounded again.
{Oh God, we just can't do this again!  We can not take another year like the last!  Please help me know when to get help and where to go for it!  Amen.}

I know enough to know when I'm whipped.  When advice is needed.  Some serious counseling was in order, and not for Mr. No-homework, but for me!  Going in I expressed feeling like I only had two options,
1) let him/her live with the consequences of the choices, which obviously wasn't working.
2) spoon feed him/her like a baby.
Going in, I didn't feel like either of these was a good solution.

So let's fast forward to the Reader's Digest condensed version of crazy Mama therapy...
here's what I re-learned... some kiddos just don't get it.  They don't get it when everyone else does.  (whatever their "it" is.  Maybe your child's "it" is being home by curfew.  Or potty training.  Or sleeping through the night.  Or lying.  Or keeping their room tidy.  Or stuffing old sandwiches under the bed until it is a baggie of green goo.  Or table manners... )   Sometimes learning "it" takes longer than everyone else.  "It" just takes longer to get figured out and embedded into the brain.  Heck, even as adults some people don't get "it."

But here's the big part... as a mama, I have a responsibility to continue to teach my sweetie till he does get it.  Even if it's past the norm.  And even if it's LONG past the time I thought we'd be done training this aspect of character.  Maybe that means I have to go over every scrap of homework to be sure it's all there, daily.  you mean every single day?  Ya I do!  I'd rather not, but maybe this simply is what needs to be done.  Maybe this means I'm still gonna have to spoon feed the homework schedule, and studying habits, and organizing his backpack regularly, and staying in weekly contact with teachers through the end of high school.  Is this where I thought my kiddo would be developmentally right now?  No.  But it is what it is.

And what's the alternative?  An adult that doesn't have necessary skills?  Heck, I share the road with those folks, and it's no fun!

With in a few days, mostly because the school year was so new, the kiddo was able to get "un-grounded."

Within a few days of that... he/she was grounded again.

{parental sigh}

And then again.

And again.

We're just going to keep plugging at it.


  1. I don't look forward to the middle school years...

  2. Does he/she do okay for their grades? (besides the homework issue) I'd check to make sure he/she is learning the material (maybe it's too hard, or they don't understand, maybe they need glasses, etc.)

    My son at 9, often says he doesn't have homework when he sometimes does, because it's too easy for him. So he figures it's not worth his time. But since we bumped him up to a couple advanced classes he is getting things done. We learned last year to specify when he comes home from school - do you have homework OR studying to do? If I didn't ask specifically about studying he figured it wasn't homework.

    Chick on the other hand struggles with kindergarten. Her letters are off, she's having trouble reading, etc. She was given an eye exam at school last week. Turns out, poor kid might need glasses which could be causing her to have trouble with the work.

    Explore all the options, just in case. If it's just him/her...umm...good luck with that?

    (Boarding school. It is your friend ;)

  3. HA! we have one of these! Finally 7th grade I think HE has gotten it! Two reasons - one he can't play sports if his grades are below a C OR he is missing an assignment.

    2. We came to teh realization he didn't care about grades AT ALL. He simply went to school to learn. If he knew the information then he didn't care whether he turned in the homework to prove it. Two things helped him figure out that although this is an admirable trait in adults - schools can only judge his accomplishments by his grades. We printed out the entire semesters grades and showed him how although hsi test all had A's his homework was killing his grades. We shoed him the percentages and how grades were figured out. THe other defining moment is we took him to a college night (yes as a 6th grader) and they point blank told him that without consistent high grades he could kiss his dreams good-bye.

    So far so good this year although I still check his assignments and homework grades every week.

    Good luck I just know how absolutely frustrating it is!

  4. Oh I'm NOT alone. And I'm trying to homeschool mine. I can't spoonfeed FOREVER...I will have 4(so far) to teach also. Geez...we need help Lord!

  5. Good for you! This is a school counselor speaking and yes, thinking of it as a "skills deficit" is probably the angle that's easiest to swallow emotionally, but a pain in the but timewise (but worth it in the end!)Some kids need homework help through middle of high school! And, based on my daughter's preschool progress report yesterday, mine has a skills deficit with "Follows Directions." Yup, she got a "W" which= "Working on it" I was a mortified mama, but if "working on it" is what she needs, "working on it" is what we'll do. Hopefully this one doesn't last into middle school....

  6. I had one like that. When he graduated high school and turned 18 it was like someone lifted a 300 lb jacket full of lead weights off of my shoulders. He made it clear that he was not going to college. This is the same child that deceided on his own after working for a year that maybe he needed to go to college. Signed up himself, gathered enough scholarships to pay for it and started. He now has above a 3.0. I could ring his neck for all the worry and harping that I had to do to get him through school but I keep that to myself because I am SO proud of him.


  7. Bless you. Bless you. That is so hard. My oldest is a girl and only in 6th grade. But I know these days are coming. Parenting is sometimes like being pecked to death by ducks, eh?

    But take heart! He will probably grow up to be a surgeon or a pastor or a ditch digger who loves Jesus and leads his wife and children in the ways of the Lord. It makes no matter. Parent them well, stay the course and give them to God. That's my motto anyway!

  8. I honestly could have (and am in the process of) written this post myself.

    My middle daughter couldn't care less about her grades. She goes to school to socialize, and that's it! She's a good student when she applies herself. She's been in school approx. 10 weeks now, and she's had more zeroes (for late papers) than I can count! We've tried everything...getting homework lists from teachers, looking over work, etc. We've tried grounding (no friends, no phone, no computer, etc.) Nothing works!
    She does the work...just doesn't feel it a necessity to turn it in!

    We finally had to enforce some tough love last night. We told her this is something she's going to have to figure out. She's going to have to want it. And, just like everything else, there are consequences for her actions. If she doesn't get her act together, she will be repeating 7th grade. I'm here for her if she wants my help, but it doesn't appear she's wanted my help and therefor I'm not going to give it anymore unless she asks for it. But it has to be her choice.
    It's so hard to watch them throw everything away. And it's so hard, for me at least, to back down and let her suffer those consequences. But that's where we're at right now. Hoping (praying) she begins to make wise choices!

  9. Oh, you wrote a post about my life with M! How sweet of you to change the grade so no one would figure it out. I too had some momentary amnesia during the summer and once school started I was reminded once again why I HATE school and homework and every single thing about it when it comes to this child. I feel for you... I actually didn't know other people suffer with this too. Yes, we had a 504 Plan meeting last week and I was very firm when telling them I want them to check her planner each and every day and sign it. They felt she is starting middle school next year and should be weaned off of this. HAHAHAHA! They don't know her at all. Not. At. All.

  10. I have taught middle school for 11 years and am a parent of a 7th grader. You are doing the right thing. Our job as parents is to help teach our children responsibility and every child learns at a different pace. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you checking up on him and helping him be organized. This is what middle school is for. Jesus modeled for us and we have to model for our kids. I wish more of my students' parents were as concerned about their children as you are for your son. You are doing the right thing!

  11. I can't imagine grounding my kids for these reasons. I read along thinking that, in the end, you'd say you you came to a point where it was better to do xyz....but you didn't.
    For myself, there is little about grounding, and punishment in general, that has ever brought about positive change in my behavior or that of my children. I was raised in a home with negative reinforcement and in the beginning, found myself parenting the same way (at times). I do understand and can see the thinking that it might work (simply because I was raised this way).


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