Friday, June 18, 2010

The new bad word

The new "bad" word in our house is..."seriously".

Yes, I'm serious. It sounds ridiculous, but when you hear a nine year old say "seriously" every time you ask him to do anything, something obviously needs to be done. Thus, I have banned the word from our house. That is extremely hard for me b/c I say that word a lot. I don't use it in the same context as W. When it's coming from my mouth, it doesn't seem like blasphemy. By the tone in his voice, he might as well be saying "are you fucking kidding me?". The kid has hears like, well, whatever animal has good hearing. He could be upstairs playing Rockband, hear me say "seriously" and yell down the stairs "Momma!!".

I love that kid, but sometimes I want to beat him. Seriously.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Remember the troubles I've been having with The Girl, her math grade and her math teacher? Well guess what? School ends in 2 days and I still don't know what her math grade is. Her teacher just started updating grades last night. From March. That's right, he still hadn't input any of the scores - or, in many cases, the assignments - since March. I have no idea where my child is in that class. Has she turned in all her assingments? Is she scoring well on tests? Does she understand the work or need a tutor? I couldn't tell you. And what's worse? Neither can her teacher.

I've met with him and the principal several times over the last few months, called him almost daily and sent him countless emails. Every time I spoke with him he assured me we wouldn't come to the end of the year without me knowing where my child stands. And yet here we are at the end of the year and I still don't know.

I am not unaware of my child's faults. When it comes to completing her homework, they are legion. The D she had at semester time is 100% her fault. But I put full blame on her teacher for my not knowing about it until it was too late to do anything to correct the problem. The same with this final grade. Whatever it is, there will be no way I can correct anything now.

On Monday I sent him an email asking for an update and reminding him that he assured me I wouldn't be caught flat-footed the last week of school. His response?

Last week, I returned the previous week's quizzes, and The Girl's was the only one without a name. After she wrote her name on her quiz, that score was entered. It was a C or something like that. The remainder go in today and I will submit final grades this evening.

That's it. That's all he had to say about it. She's hovering on the brink of FAILING ALGEBRA and his only response is "it was a C or something"?

I wrote a formal letter of complaint and sent it to the school board president and the superintendent. I also included a complaint about the principal, because she's been NO HELP whatsoever. I just found out that she's leaving after this year, however, so I don't figure my letter is going to matter much. But still..

I honestly don't understand how I'm the only parent upset by not knowing what my kid's grade is. And what about those kids who are really struggling? Are they going to find out the last day of school that they failed math? Do those parents even care?

I also don't understand how this teacher can get away with not doing his job. Because part of his job is grading assignments and working with parents, right?  I'm just sick over the whole thing. Especially since there's a very real possibility The Girl won't have a B on her final report card and will end up grounded for the whole summer.

I'll tell you, though, I've never been so happy to see the end of a school year in my life.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Summertime Blues

It's no secret that we've been battling with The Girl her whole life all year about turning in her homework and classwork. I complain about it often enough. The thing is, she's got a stubborn streak a mile wide, and she isn't the type of kid who gets grounded and thinks, "I need to fix this so I can get ungrounded." She's the type who says, "I'm already grounded anyway so what does it matter?".

That's the biggest source of my frustration with her. Because how do you punish a kid if she doesn't care about about being punished? I've tried the incentive program - rewarding her for good behavior - and that didn't work. I've tried punishing her by taking away things - most recently her whole life - and that doesn't work. So...what now?

Plus, I have to be consistent and follow through. One of the worst things I think you can do as a parent is not follow through. If you threaten punishment, and they don't keep up their end of it, you stand by that. It may not have the impact on The Girl that I want it to (punishments, I mean) but at least she always knows I'm serious when I tell her X is going to happen if she continues doing Y.

During her last round of punishments - when she came home with a D on her report card because she was missing 5 assignments - I told her if she missed one more assignment during the rest of the school year, she'd be grounded for the whole summer. And I meant it.

Unfortunately, when she's grounded, so am I. We've cut out camping/hiking trips, skipped the beach and the pool and even refused to go to barbecues and movies, all because TG is grounded. What's my summer going to be like if TG is grounded? They aren't going to their dad's until the last week of July or the first week of August (that's a post for another day) and I have a ton of things I want to do with them. I planned to get season passes to the local water park so we could spend our days there. I want to do trips the beach, day hikes and long camping trips. None of that is going to happen if TG is grounded. (Unless I hire a babysitter to stay with her, and don't think I'm not seriously considering it).

But then we come back to that "I'm already grounded so why does it matter" mentality that TG has. Apparently she'd forgotten the part about missing another assignment and being grounded for the whole summer. When I reminded her - after she missed yet another assignment - she completely freaked out. "No! Mom, summer is supposed to be a fresh start. We wipe the slate clean and start all over again! This isn't right. it isn't fair" blah blah blah. I have no sympathy for her. She knew the deal and she didn't care. I have a ton of sympathy for myself, because I didn't do anything wrong but my summer is still going to suck. But this isn't about me much.

Anyway, two hours, many tears and much drama later, we came to an agreement. According to the online system TG still has a D in math. That isn't a totally fair assessment, because her teacher still hasn't updated (even after a meeting and two phone calls with the principal) his gradebook, but still. So MM and I agreed that if she brings her grade up to a B, and agrees to do one major project around the house (something she wouldn't normally do - like painting) she wouldn't be grounded for the entire summer. If she brings it up to an A, she won't be grounded and she won't have to do a project. So, B and a project or A and no project.

I'm ok with this because she's going to have to work really hard to make that happen. Her test/assignment scores are going to have to be really high and she's going to have to do extra-credit work to make it happen. If she works that hard, I'm fine with rewarding her. It not, I guess my summer is going to suck wind.

So now that I got all that cleared up, I have some hope for the summer. Or I did. Until yesterday.When
I got a call from Little Man's teacher.

Like two months ago she sent home a packet with information about a huge State report they had to complete for social studies. She sent them home early so they'd have plenty of time to complete them. Little Man chose South Dakota as his state (which I kind of thought was a little like cheating since he was born there, but whatever) and seemed excited to work on it. Although we've had some issues with him not doing his homework in the past. for the most part he's a good kid and I don't worry about him too much. So when he told me his teacher was giving him time in class to do his report and that he was almost finished with it I took him at his word.

My bad.

His teacher said if he doesn't turn this project in and get a decent grade he'll end up with a C in social studies. If he brings home a C he'll be grounded for the entire summer.

I'm telling you, if it's not one it's the other. Unless it's both of them.

It might not be summer yet, but I already have the Blues.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Shouldn't He Have Outgrown That?

Remember this? Well, guess what? He did it again. Only now he's 11.

He spent hours crying last night from his bed. He didn't come into my room to get me and when I went to him he wouldn't tell me what was wrong, just kept crying. I wanted to beat him before all was said and done. And I still don't know what his problem was.

WTF is that about?

*image credit here

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Little Runaway

The Girl and I have been at odds the last few weeks over - what else - her not doing her homework assignments. Things finally came to a head last week when we got her midterm grades and she still has a D in math.

We had a huge blow up and then a long talk and I thought we'd cleared things up. Apparently not, however, because yesterday I found this note in her backpack. (Sorry the image is a little off..I need to adjust my scanner)

I have to give the girl credit for wanting to be prepared. She's going to wait until she's older and has a car, and she needs a brush for her own comfort. As a mom, I have to say I'm darn proud that she included "good shoes" and "toothpaste/brush" on her list.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Little Parent

Every morning my SIL drops her daughter off at our house on her way to work. She has to be to work at 7 but the bus doesn't come until 8:15. Since they (the niece and LM) go to the same school, it makes sense for her to come here for an hour every morning, then walk to the bus stop with LM.

LM and the 7yo have a cute relationship. He acts more like her big brother than her cousin. He teases her about boyfriends and scolds her when she misbehaves. She defers to him, asking his permission for things and doing what he tells her. It's cute.

Yesterday morning they were at the breakfast table together and I overheard the following. It totally cracked me up.

7yo: Can I please be excused? (this said to LM, not me)

LM: Take one more bite. And not a little one either!

7yo: I just did!

LM: Take another one.

7yo: Fine!

LM: Hey, don't eat like a pig!

7yo: Sorry.

LM: Alright, you can be excused now.

7yo: Thanks!

LM: Thank you for listening to me. What's the one rule I have? Respect your..

7yo: You?

LM: your elders.

7yo: Oh, right. Ok.

They leave the table and Little Man heads to the bathroom to brush his teeth. Halfway down the hallway she catches up with him.

LM: Go clear your bowl!

7yo: *giggles* Oh, sorry.

Then she marched back to the table, cleared it and, at his direction, went and brushed her teeth. They kill me!

He'd be such a good big brother!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


We all know The Girl has homework issues. We've been battling them for years and years. I don't imagine we're going to win the war anytime soon, either.

When she was getting ready to enter middle school, MM and I had major concerns about sending her to our public school. It doesn't have a very good reputation. We have 6 elementary schools in our town, and every single one of them dumps into the middle school. It's overcrowded and has been known to have problems with drugs and alcohol, not to mention delinquent behavior from its students. With TG's history we weren't sure it would be a good fit.

We talked about sending her to the local Christian school, but she begged us to let her try the public school first. All of her friends were going to the public school and they had more extracurricular activities for her to try. Those arguments didn't sway me, but we agreed to let her try it out after learning about their online grade system, ZAP program and guidance counselors.

ZAP = Zeros Aren't Permitted. If a child has a missing assignment the teacher fills out a ZAP form and the parents get an automated call along with a letter telling us there's a missing assignment. The child then has lunch detention until the assignment is completed and turned in. Most teachers take points away for every day the assignment isn't turned in.

Aside: Personally I think the ZAP program is a joke. I think if a child doesn't turn in an assignment they should get a zero for it. What's the incentive to get homework done and turned in if they don't get a zero? :End

So far the system has been working. I check TG's grades online once a week and if she has any missing assignments we take appropriate action (ie, make her life hell). My only problem? Well, ok, my only two problems? 1) TG still misses and assignments and 2) her math teacher.

I don't know if her Algebra teacher has problems with technology or what, but he never updates the online website. If he doesn't log missing assignments in to the computer, it doesn't trigger the ZAP program and I don't get notified, either via website, phone call or mailed letter. Which means I have no way of knowing if she's turning her assignments in. Which is bad!

That just happened again today. It's the end of the semester and time for report cards to come out. We have parent teacher conferences on Friday and today her Algebra teacher finally finished entering all the grades online. Guess how many assignments TG is missing? Go ahead, guess.

Five. 5. FIVE.


He hadn't updated the site since January, so all these missing assignments are from February.


She's had 5 missing assignments in his class, which brought her grade from an A- down to a D! and I didn't hear a word about it. MY CHILD HAS A D IN MATH AND I DIDN'T FIND OUT UNTIL TODAY.


I'm not saying that TG not turning her assignments in is the teacher's fault, but my not knowing about it is. If I don't know, how can I correct the problem if I don't know about it? I believe the teacher has a responsibility to let me know what's going on with my child. Right?

And you know what a D on TG's report card means? No car! We had also worked out a deal regarding a trip to Knott's Berry Farm and my old e-reader (which TG desperately wants) and those are both off the table, too. She'll be lucky if she survives the next week. Oh, and the best part? She has straight A's in all her other classes. My kids has 5 A's and a D.


While I was in the midst of writing this I got a phone call from Little Man's language arts teacher. Apparently he's gotten into the habit of not turning in assignments as well. His teacher said he was supposed to turn in a book report before spring break (our spring break was last week) and she's given him days since then to turn it in and he hasn't. He'll now be getting a zero on it. It's a 30 point assignment. She also said at least once a week he doesn't turn in his homework.

So, who's going to come visit me in jail? It's either that or the funny farm.

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