Thursday, May 21, 2009

20-20 Hindsight

You know that point in your life when you look back at your mistakes with perfect clarity and really REALLY wish you could go back and "do the right thing"? Even when that thing will raise the ire of someone you love?

Our son chose to take a pretty intensive school schedule this, his freshman, year. He was taking the following honors classes: English, Civics, Biology and Geometry in addition to Spanish and the Coup de Grace IED (Introduction to Engineer Design) which is a college level class. We knew at the beginning of the school year that he could earn college credit for the class this year if he passed an end of the year exam, BUT in order to be eligible to take the exam, he would have to maintain an 85 average for the whole year. The first 2 quarters he was right at an 85.

Earlier this spring, we gave our son 14 year old son texting. At the time, I knew, really KNEW in my heart that it was a mistake. But I wanted to be the "kewl" mom. Plus, he had wanted it for Christmas and we made the conscious choice at that time NOT to make it a Christmas gift. So, as his disappointment played out, we told him he'd have to earn it and for a couple weeks, he worked hard at earning it. We felt it was deserved so we acquiesed. And since it added just $10 to our plan we gave him unlimited texting...in for a penny, in for a pound.

Well, the inevitable happened. The phone was permanently affixed to his hand. AND the grades started to slip. His third quarter grades were less than stellar. Not horrible, but not what we knew he was capable. I wish I could just write this off as, hey, it's 9th grade, he has plenty of time to bring the grades up, but that is really just parental rationalization.

We screwed up. It's that simple. We saw the effects of texting on him and instead of doing the right thing and removing the distraction, we threw out threats of taking away the texting/phone. The texting should have been removed from the phone as soon as the grades started slipping. Instead we used it as leverage. Bring the grades back up or we'll take away texting. Now, to his credit (or it may have been just luck) he DID bring the grades up. The problem: his 3rd quarter IED grade was low enough that for him to be able to take the exam, he would have to receive a 98 for the 4th quarter. Currently his 4th quarter grade is the best yet, but it won't come close to a 98. So, he will not be able to take the exam, or earn college credit for the time spent, instead, he will have to retake the class in college. With us footing the bill.

Parenting teens is very much a learning experience. We are conservative enough to NEED our children to feel a little pain of their actions so that they can learn from them. We frequently waver walking that fine line between wanting them to learn from their mistakes and wanting to protect them from HAVING to learn from their mistakes. Let us make the mistake and tell you how NOT to make the mistake. But I have concluded that, in most cases, teens NEED the "pain" of their mistakes to learn.

I can see that clearly. I have perfect 20-20 hindsight.

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