Today's post will be composed in honor of that all-time-great TV show that taught me so much back in the day--Star Trek. No, wait, that's not the one...I meant Sesame Street! (Not to worry, Dad, the adventures of the USS Enterprise influenced me, too. Where else would I have learned such useful phrases as "Set phasers to stun!" or "I'm giving her all I've got, Cap'n!" In my daily life, these have been invaluable, trust me...) Anyway, the Word of the Day is: Responsibility, and the action stars two young men who should be very familiar...so let's begin with a 4th grader named Riley.
Every 5th grader at his school apparently gets to hold some sort of "leadership position", for which you fill out an "application", designating your top two choices and stating why you would be a good pick for each of them. Riley immediately gravitated toward the SERT (Saving Energy and Recycling Team) committee--not a surprise, given his concern for the environment and all things natural. However, we had already discussed the possibility of his being asked to step up as a Safety Patrol...since he would be absolutely the only eligible student on his entire bus next year who could fulfill this role. He emphatically claimed he had no interest in performing the duties of a Patrol. When asked why he was so against it, he fed us some vague mumbo jumbo about how it was too much work...and also that it didn't seem like much fun. (Aha! Methinks this is the REAL reason.) I tried to glamorize it a little by reminding him that his big brother had done his time--I mean "experienced this exciting opportunity"--as well. HUGE mistake. For every positive aspect I could think to mention, his smart-mouthed, sarcastic teenage brother had a glass-half-empty, extraordinarily not helpful retort. Me: "Ms. M (the faculty coordinator) asked you because she knows you can handle it and will do a good job." Derek: "It sucks! You're gonna hate it!" Me: "In the Winter, you get hot chocolate on Friday mornings!" Derek: "It's like water, with 2 squirts of chocolate...it sucks!" (Me: "Okay, you can shut the heck up, now." That last one was in my head...but I was giving him my most cowing Mom Glare...with no effect whatsoever...)
Then Riley had an actual meeting with Ms. M, who encouraged him to consider accepting the Yellow Belt of Destiny. (Actually, I just made that up, but I'm totally gonna use it in pep talks from now on). In reality, she probably didn't want to be forced to hand the gig over to a 3rd grader--imagine that kind of power in the hands of an eight-year old...shudder. So Riley came home and told me about their chat...and how he was still opposed. And you know, I almost let him off the hook, but the more I thought about it, the more firmly I came to believe that he needed to do his service to his school (rah rah). I gave him a rousing speech about how "sometimes you've gotta do the right thing, even when you don't completely want to"...and I might have thrown something in there about "manning up and taking one for the team..." To his credit--with only the barest hint of sniffling--he agreed to don the badge and do his best to keep the sidewalks...and his bus...safe. (Whew, one crisis managed...moving on...)
Next, we have Derek. Sigh. Let's just say he kicked off last week with a bang, by exhibiting poor judgment in the face of an episode of idiotic behavior by some of his pals. (How unusual for 7th grade boys, right? Oh, wait a minute...never mind...) I know, assigning "guilt by association" isn't totally fair, but it seemed an appropriate moment to drive home a valuable "consequences of your decisions" lesson. Thus his precious links to the outside world--his phone and his iPod--were confiscated until the weekend. (Trust me, this caused enough pain to make an impression.) I don't know if it was that incident acting as a wake-up call, or his 13-year old brain coming out of its fog (even if only temporarily, it's a nice change), but suddenly Derek appeared to undergo an organizational epiphany. With a busy week looming, he matter-of-factly detailed for me his agenda for completing each of the Study Guides--get this--BEFORE they were due (pause: gasp!) so that he could adequately prepare for the exams. Of his own volition, he requested that I help him practice Spanish for his oral assessment...3 nights in a row! All of this occurred, of course, in the last two weeks of the school year. I can only keep my fingers crossed that after putting the Academic Beast into a coma during the 2-1/2 months of vacation, we are able to awaken it again in time to start 8th grade on a strong note!
Or maybe the Yellow Belt of Destiny will rub off on both boys, leaving Husband and me overwhelmed by our refreshingly responsible, mature, and dependable young lads...ha! One can dream...