Burning Barricades

Perhaps the Parent Imperfect’s recent silence has had something to do with the arrival of Vince’s 14th report card from the nation’s oldest public school. That’s enough to silence even the most imperfect of parents. The only good thing that can be said about the moment is that the arrival of the 14th means that there are only 16 more (assuming Vince remains at the school through an eventual graduation). The midpoint approaches.

Prepare yourselves, families new to the hallowed halls: This may not be your elementary school report card. I’m sure that there is a good reason for the Boston Latin School to have five terms per year, rather than four quarters or two semesters, but for us it means that a pall descends over our home one additional time each year. The pall eventually lifts, in preparation for mid-term “progress reports” that seem to occur within days of the arrival of grade reports, but we have no illusion that we are doing anything about the situation that creates the pall. We believe we’ve tried every possible way to address the issue without giving grades an importance that they don’t deserve, but we are more than open to your suggestions.

As the PI blustered and babbled about report card #3 or #4, Vince memorably observed:

Do you think I like this? Of course I don’t, but why are you making such a big deal out of it? When I was getting good grades at the Hernández, everything was about all the other things that are important. Now when my grades aren’t so good, suddenly they are, like, the most important thing in the world. Why?

These words, said with the emotion that has consistently been in these conversations, took the air out of the bluster at that moment, but the hot air re-enters the conversation with the arrival of each report. Grades improve, then they don’t. New schemes of child support, bribery, house arrest, private investigation, professional intervention, blackmail and extortion come and go, but the essential problem remains relatively unscathed.

Teacher quality and styles of teaching and learning at BLS certainly shape the problem, but it’s too easy to locate all of the blame “out there.” We have heard very clearly from day one that, “BLS is not for everyone,” and we continue to hear it as we pass day 500 of the 7:40AM homeroom bell. Even as the pall recurs, Vince builds flaming barricades against the idea that he would pursue any of the alternatives available to him, and we’ve never been able to come up with one that prepared us to storm the barricades. And so we near the halfway point (maybe), as in need of good ideas as ever.

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7 Comments

Filed under Just Parenting

7 responses to “Burning Barricades

  1. Regina White

    I’m always available as a terrifying object lesson in someone having no bloody idea how to deal with school. I was horrible, got full rides to colleges, and was horrible again. I can’t think of any particular thing that would have made things better. For starters, I think every factor in my life would have had to be different.

    • Regina White? You can never tell who’s going to pop up here. In any case, you sound like just the one to counsel dear Vince, For the moment, though, he’s oversubscribed on dysfunctional examples right here in the homestead.

  2. Nancy

    so sorry to hear the frustration continues….here are my few words of hope. Recently, friends with an 11th grader noted that their son had finally engaged with school – staying after to work with a teacher, really getting into his studies, etc. 11th grade!!! I hope that time will be your and Vince’s friend.
    Advice from a friend of my parents who had 4 boys: “love them through it” – whatever ‘it’ is. Finally: read some of Michael Thompson’s books about boys – _Speaking of Boys_ was very helpful to me recently, to put a lot of things in perspective about boys development, etc.

    • Thanks for that, Nancy. Yes, we hear these stories of young men who suddenly awaken to the task, and we like those much more than other stories we also hear. Your advice is gratefully received, including the book suggestion.

  3. Debbie

    My son is a sixie, and I feel your pain. I love all of your posts, but this particular one had me laughing out loud as I forwarded it to friends who, like me, have a son that sounds very much like Vince. Keep posting.

    • Debbie

      Me too. In fact, I’m shocked there is not.

      • Sorry, that last one got sent before I was finished. You knew what I was going to say, though. Maybe we should start a support group for the parents of boys, in particular, who can’t quite find their way at the “nation’s oldest.” The school has no real answers, or at least none that have been effective in our case. Since we know that these kids aren’t really doing what they could do, we feel unable to press the school on this. Many (the lucky ones, in some ways) just leave or are shown the door, but others grind along. The school insists that there is no particular issue with boys, but I’ll never buy that until someone produces some data to shut me up. That won’t happen.

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