Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I'm Turning into "That" Mom

For ten years and four kids I've tried my best to avoid being "that" mom. You know the one. The one that when the teachers or administrators at school see you coming they groan, run and hide or roll their eyes. I've really tried to let them do their jobs and trust them. We live in an excellent school district. In fact, we moved to our current location BECAUSE of the school district.


I have found one problem. I've let it slide most of the time. Or rather I've addressed the problem and then let it go numerous times. Individual teachers have made it easier to let the issue go. In 98% of cases they've done their part. The administration however has refused to do their parts. And now I'm done discussing the issue. I want action.

Maybe I should mention what the problem is. Yes?

The school refuses to challenge my kids. More specifically, my oldest two. They slide by without putting any effort in. They are happy enough getting mostly A's with the occasional B without doing more than the bare minimum. I am so not okay with this. Now that they are in 8th and 9th grade they need to learn how to work a little. They need to be in a more competitive academic atmosphere. They need to be with kids that work at school and take pride in their grades.

Here's the thing. My oldest's friends are all in honors classes. They have been since 7th grade. None of them understand why he isn't. His father and I don't understand why he isn't. The junior high has some formula they use to place kids in honors and apparently he didn't qualify. Even though he could do the work. We let it slide. I will admit, this was my mistake. I should have gone to the school back in 7th grade. I should have pushed. But I didn't want to be "that" parent.

Now he's in high school. He has 100 average in everything 5 weeks in and we told him he needed to talk to the school about getting into an honors class. He needs a challenge. Get this: He AGREED. I told him to pick one subject that they offer as honors. His choices: math, science & social studies. He chose social studies. Now honestly? That is the LAST class I would chose to take an honors version of. In fact, I believe that was my worst subject in school. But that's what he picked. He spoke to his teacher yesterday and his teacher said he was already looking at moving him into his honors class. All he has to do is ace his unit test this week. Only thing standing in his way? He hasn't cracked a book. Guess what we're doing tonight.

My oldest has also said he'd like to try for honors math next year. HIS OWN SUGGESTION. He doesn't want to do it this year because he thinks it might be too much all at once. I told him the longer he waits the further behind he's going to get. His response? Geometry is easy. You guys can help me get caught up. To which I replied, "Hell no. I can't do geometry. I'm the algebra lady." Yes, it's true. Geometry is impossible for me but I love Algebra. I know. Odd and GEEK. Whatevs. He says dad can help him.

So see, no need to be "that" mom. Son, taking action himself. I'm so proud.

Now, on to the second child. Oh dear son of mine. He has his head in the clouds most of the time. He is silly and goofy and a more than a little devious.  Good thing he's so handsome. Makes it easier not to kill him at times. Also, keeps the girls from completely dismissing him.

One other thing he is? A math brain. He is the child that would make me put addition and subtraction problems on our chalkboard at 3. For fun. And he got them right. He would demand more math when I was trying to make dinner. He made up his own math problems on white boards, chalkboards, paper. He could just "see" how numbers worked. He was also the one shouting out the answers to the multiplication problems when I quizzed his older brother before he could even comprehend what I just said. He is the one we've been trying to get into honors math since the end of 6th grade.

Last year we fought with the principle over and over. He would not budge. We were told we were forcing our son to do something he didn't want to do. That we would make him hate math. It was implied that we were being "those" parents. Then they conceded. He could take a math placement test at the end of August. A 90 or above meant honors math.

The fact is he got a 75.

Part of the problem was we were so intent on him studying for his Bar Mitzvah (on September 12th) and going to his Hebrew tutor's. We didn't push the math. The math he said he went over. The math practice test he assured us he could do. The day before the exam I realized the error of our ways and brought him to work with me. He worked for five hours. I showed him how to do about 30% of the problems. He got it. He took the exam the next day. He complained there was stuff on it not on the practice test. Four kids took the test.

I know at least one other didn't pass it with a 90. She got an 80. She studied all summer with three different tutors. He is not in honors math. This is a kid that WANTS to be in honors math. This is a kids that could do it if you just put him in the damn class. The school won't budge. I was going to give it up. After the exam I did nothing. But now he's bugging ME about it.

So now it's time. I'm making yet another appointment with the principal. I'm going to be "that" parent. I'm going to sit there and not budge from my position. I'm going to take a lesson from son #3 and be stubborn. So damn stubborn and not give up. I will not give in. I will wear him down. I will just not take no for an answer. I don't care about rules and guidelines. There are always exceptions. This is one of those exceptions. It is time.


cursingmama said...

We have a weird deal going on that is similar. ThePrincess is in honors math (fine) but it isn't her best subject - Gameboy is a math wiz and has never been in honors math....

Once he didn't qualify in middle school the curriculum took different paths and he could never really get in without skipping something important like geometry, trig, or pre-calc.

The Mother said...

THIS is why I started homeschooling my brilliant kids. I got tired of being THAT mom.

I wish you luck. I doubt you'll get anywhere, but I wish you luck.

Dencie said...

You should do this. I don't understand how a school program can pigeonhole a child and never let them move up. It is ridiculous and I believe you are doing the right thing! You go!

Carmi said...

I see this through the lens of my wife, who's an elementary school teacher. She wishes every parent were as passionate about a child's achievement as you so clearly are about yours. She cringes not when a passionate parent approaches her and engages in a vigorous, involved discussion on the child's achievement, but when a clueless one does so and ends up wasting her time.

I suspect she'd clone you if she could. The kind of "that" parent you describe is, above all, a parent. You're facilitating a life's journey that, frankly, any parent should want to follow. Nicely played. And mazel tov on the bar mitzvah! I've been a stranger of late, and it's nice to pop back in to a simcha.