I couldn’t believe it, but I was so happy! He seemed to be happy, too. He was used to bad Parent Teacher Conferences that always led to lectures and unhappy nights at home. Not this time! It was awesome.
Halfway through the first quarter and everything was going pretty well.
I was so proud of him for how he had committed to handle school work, assignments, and all things school-related by himself. He was motivated at the beginning of the year and confident that he could do it.
It was very hard for me to step back and let him.
But, I did.
And then he got sick.
I was hoping we could avoid that problem for awhile. Getting sick and not doing the make-up work has always started setbacks in the past.
When that morning rolled around that he was coughing, had a headache, sore throat, and stomach ache, I got that feeling of dread.
I gave him vitamins and Ibuprofen and tried to get him to go to school, but he wouldn't and missed a few days. Days that I knew he probably could have gone, sick or not, but he wouldn't. I reminded him about how missing days would make him get behind and that it would be hard to catch back up, but he still wouldn't go. This was a pattern that I did not want him to get used to.
I thought I would check the school’s website for him to let him know what classes he might need to stay after school for when he went back. I tried to tell him about three classes that he could concentrate on. After I told him about the first class, he said, “It is taken care of.” Then, when I started telling him what the next class was, he got very grouchy with me and told me that he had just said that it was taken care of. I never did get to the third class because he acted as if he definitely did not want to hear any more about it from me.
So, I had to drop it and not get on his case about his grades. It made me angry that I couldn't even have a conversation with him about school, though. I should have been able to make an observation without him cutting me off and telling me to stay out of it.
I had to step back again, just like I was supposed to, and let him be in charge of school.
Sometimes people would ask me how his grades were and how he was doing in school and I would tell them that as far as I knew, he was doing fine. They would act shocked that I wasn’t staying on top of it and that I didn’t really know for sure. They always gave me the impression that I was very wrong to do that. But, one thing we learned in family therapy was that school was his responsibility. Not his parent’s responsiblity. He had to take ownership of his education. I thought it would be nice for him to be able to succeed at school without me nagging him. I had to let him have that opportunity. I hoped that it might help us get along better.
Because, school has always been one of the biggest downfalls in our relationship.
It was starting to feel like old times at this point.
I did not like that feeling at all.
Then, he went to AA with his sponsor. They must have talked about school because he walked in the door at 10:30 p.m., and immediately wanted to do his homework. He didn't go to bed until 11:30 p.m. and wanted me help him with his assignments. Two days before that I was supposed to stay out of it and all of a sudden he was asking me for help.
What happened to make him actually do homework?
His awesome sponsor, of course.
He offered some great incentives to do well in school. A first quarter 4.0 would get rewarded with $200.00. And if he graduated with a 4.0? He would get rewarded with $1,500.00 and a car. His sponsor will do anything to help my son and the other guys that he sponsors. I may have gone on and on about him in the past, and I probably will in the future, too because I appreciate how much he does and how he is a great example of the kind of person that my son could be.
I should have made a big poster of “the reward” to hang in his room to remind him to stay motivated.
Because I had no idea how long he would keep it going.
Something kept telling me it was going to be a long school year.