Let's face it. I am not the first mother to go through the parental trials and tribulations dealing with teenage boys, hormones, girls and the change from focusing on grades to focusing on having a 'cool rep.' But let me say that today was indeed a day for complete insanity to take over in a discussion I had with my 13 year-old son, Jordan.
It began simply enough. I went to pick him up after a football game. I am not attending the games because my son is recuperating from a fracture to his ankle. As soon as he is able to practice and be a part of the team, I will be at every game whether he plays or not.
Anyway, as I made my way to pick up my son, I saw his math teacher standing near the coach. I had just signed a note from the math teacher the night before indicating that my son, Jordan received a 'penalty' because he had not done his homework.
Walking up to say hello, the two of us began to talk about Jordan's overall performance in his class. It turns out that earlier that day, Jordan had taken a math quiz. After the quiz, the math teacher told me that two students approached him to tell him that Jordan had cheated on the quiz. His math teacher said that one of his students even said that Jordan told his classmate that he had cheated off of this classmate's computer screen. Was this a sign of lunacy or just plain arrogance?
Jordan's math teacher continued to tell me that Jordan had received a total of seven penalties, which was a concern and that Jordan's home room teacher would be contacting me to schedule a face-to-face conference as soon as possible. Jordan knew that the football coach would not tolerate students who were on the team but refused to do their homework or continue to maintain a required grade point average. What made it worse is that everyday after school, Jordan was given an hour before football practice to do his homework, along with all of the other football players.
With all of this new information, I walked toward the car to find my son sitting next to the car, his eyes avoiding his math teacher as the teacher walked by, and anxious to get inside the vehicle. After we were both inside and I started the car and made my way to leave the school, I began to talk about homework and school and how things were going. He proceeded to tell me a very detailed accounting of life in his usual fashion with, "okay."
I continued our conversation by asking him about his math quiz and about his penalties. I told him that his math teacher had informed me that he had received seven penalties and possibly eight. Jordan said his math teacher was wrong. I asked about his quiz and he said he thought he might have missed one problem. I asked him if he had ever considered cheating to get a better grade and he told me, "no."
I talked about how much he was going through right now. He was changing from a boy to a young man. He liked a young girl in his grade and it was important to him to have lots of friends. But I reminded him of just how valuable good grades were. I told him that I was concerned because his math teacher had also mentioned that I would be receiving a call to set up a face-to-face conference.
Driving to pick up some groceries before heading home, Jordan seemed annoyed. He had been in this state for the past year or so. I decided to ask him if I might be playing a part in his performance at school. I said, "Jordan, do you think I am part of the problem for you not doing well in school?"
Initially he said he didn't know. Then after a few seconds he said, "yes."
I asked him, "how am I causing problems that are impacting your grades and your lack of studying and doing your homework during the week?"
Jordan said, "Cause you make me mad."
"So, I make you mad and this is why you won't do your homework, don't study for tests and continue to do poorly in school?"
Again, Jordan said, "yes."
"Well, Jordan, sometimes you make me a bit upset as well. But when I go to work I don't do a bad job or decide not to complete a portion of my work because you make me upset."
But Jordan already had a response ready and said, "Well, you're a parent and I'm a student. If you would stop making me mad and make me happy everyday, I would do all of my homework, study every night and make straight A's."
It was the most absurd answer I had ever heard from him. I told him that I thought this would be good information to discuss during the upcoming parent-teacher conference.
A single mother. One 13 year-old boy and one 9 year-old boy and a new challenge by way of an upcoming parent teacher conference. I just couldn't give in to the thought of what it would possibly take to ever make Jordan happy every day. I was already certain he had lost his mind and actually believed what he had told me.
When we got home, I fixed dinner and helped him with his homework. I wondered if this counted in the 'making me happy' category and smiled a bit. I remembered my own days of anguish as a teenage girl. For me, being happy would come and go depending on the day, if a boy smiled at me and how well I played tennis on the school's team.
I was glad there were only two more days to the school week and he could spend a night at his grandparent's. Maybe I would be able to find someone I could make happy. And maybe that someone would be me.