Today started out just like so many morning seem to start off anymore. Max moving slow, if at all. No initiative to get dressed for the day. Complaints about having to go to school. Complaints about having to get up early, forgetting the fact that he woke up early on both Saturday and Sunday all on his own. Reminders to put on deodorant and brush his teeth. Did you put your keys in your book bag? Did you put on your deodorant. Go brush your teeth…and then the big question. Max, what are you planning to do this week to bring up your grades by the end of this week?
Pause for a flashback.
Max has always struggled with school. Every year I have been on speed dial with his teachers. They all look to me to tell them how to handle my son so that he doesn’t have melt downs and so that he focuses on the task at hand rather than being a distraction to the rest of the class. Unfortunately I don’t feel I am of much help in this area. I deal with him one on one with no other children present.
Kindergarten was rough. Max was a very active little boy who didn’t like to sit still. However, after two years of preschool I thought he was at least prepared for what was to come with school and that he would be able to cope. fidget, yes, but cope with doing as he is told and function like any other normal, healthy little boy.
First and second grade continued to contain the conversations about how they just can’t seem to get my son to focus, but he is very smart and he will grow out of this eventually. By third and fourth grade the teachers were telling me that he was very smart, but that he was slow in maturing behaviorally, however, at no point was he tested for anything, it was still more or less chalked up to he will eventually grow out of it.
Fifth grade marks the first year that there was a failing grade on the report card for one class in one semester. I didn’t really hear from any teachers last year, but did keep in contact with the teacher that Max had received the failing grade from. While none of Max’s grades were outstanding, for the rest of the year he managed to C’s and B’s, and a occasional A.
Then there is this year. Max is at a new school as we moved over the summer. Within the first week of school I was contacted and asked if he could be placed into Title I for Language Arts. They wanted to try to ensure that he was getting settled into the new school and to help him to once and for all learn how to get himself organized in order to be able to succeed in school.
First nine weeks produced many conversations with the Title I teacher, as well as two conferences with all of his teachers and multiple telephone calls.
His grades are atrocious.
He is defiant.
He is choosing to not do work.
He is having melt downs regularly during class.
This past weekend brought home progress reports for the second nine weeks, and Max’s was not good. I knew this before I ever saw the report on Friday, and had already made arrangements with the guidance counselor to send home another progress report at the end of this week. The purpose was to give Max a chance to bring two of those grades up. The guidance counselor feels that it is reasonable to do over this next week.
Once again the Max and I talk about his grades. I tell him he has one week to make a reasonable effort that we can see or lose electronics over Christmas break. I try to impress on the boy who doesn’t like school the importance of doing the work and passing as opposed to choosing to only do what he wants and risk the consequences of failing and prolonging his school years.
Fast forward back to this morning:
As Max is eating his breakfast and I am signing his folder that goes back I asked him what he thinks would be a good plan for working on his grades this week. Answer? “I don’t know.” This was followed up by something to the effect of it doesn’t matter what he does because his teachers don’t like him and will give him bad grades just because.
HE IS A VICTIM!!!!! Silly me! What was I thinking?
At this point, I am very ashamed to say, psycho Mom arrived for breakfast. I said many things that even as they were coming out of my mouth I regretted. In the midst of it all, I am hoping that my defiant, victim of a little man got the message that his poor grades are the direct results of his choices to not complete work or to not follow the directions and complete the work as assigned. Not because his teachers don’t like him. Which based on all of my face time with his teachers couldn’t be further from the truth.
And now I am just left sitting here wondering at what point did I mess up as his mother?
At what point did my parenting allow for him to become this defiant little person who only does what he wants to do?
Much more importantly, how do I fix it? How do I teach him not to see himself as a constant victim? How do I instill in him that he needs to be responsible for himself and that he has to accept the results of his choices?
That he needs to put on deodorant EVERY DAY.
This motherhood thing has always been scary, but right now it has me terrified. We have done the whole school thing for seven years at this point. When does the maturity finally kick in? When does the struggle ever end?
Even more important than that how do I find the patience to deal with this trying little boy who is struggling to grow up? He seems so isolated and alone. Where are the good friends that I keep praying for to appear in his life?
Max is an incredibly intelligent and funny little man with a GIANORMOUS heart. He is so incredibly sensitive. It is killing this mother’s heart of mine to watch him struggling to make friends and to find his place.
And I am praying. Fervently. Constantly.
Loving Father, keep this precious little soul that you have gifted me with safe. You have placed this little man in my care, Father, equip me to be the mother he needs. Give me the wisdom to know how to speak with him both to encourage and to teach. My soul cries out for patience with him. Help me to find calm and still the angry and harsh words that are all to quick to fly out of my mouth like darts at my poor hurting boy. Guide my thoughts and heart Lord, as we continue to raise this child up to know you and your ways. Bring me comfort as I despair for him. You know his heart Lord. Be a balm of comfort there. Help me to be the peaceful presence in our home as opposed to the whirling tornado of emotions that seems to be me most days. Father, I know that ultimately he is in your loving care. In Jesus loving name I pray, Amen.
I really don’t have any answers. Motherhood has been my greatest joy and toughest assignment. I am not used to not doing something well. The outcome of this assignment is monumental. My precious boy and his future are what is at stake. I can’t be a failure at this. So, this mother’s heart will continue to pray and cry out to Yahweh. My trust is in the Lord.
I know, O Lord, that your judgments are right,
and that in faithfulness you have humbled me.
Let your steadfast love become my comfort
according to your promise to your servant.
Let your mercy come to me, that I may live;
for your law is my delight.
Psalm 119: 75-77 (NRSV)