Friday, February 7, 2014

A Scholarly Story...Sort of...

Early in my academic career, my parents impressed upon me that learning was very important. I took that lesson to heart, and therefore approached school quite seriously. (Yeah, yeah: "Nerd Girl", I know...) So of course with my own children, I preach the same sort of mantra--this is your job, you must always try your best, blah blah blah.

Now, I'm not sure whether it's because he's such a laid-back kind of guy...or because he's a teenager...but Derek seems to accept this more as, say, a suggestion--albeit a forceful one--than the inarguable Rule for Life that it's meant to be. ( least according to his MOTHER...) He always relates to me enviously the sagas of his friends whose parents take them out of school for family vacations. What gets his green-eyed-monster even more riled up, however, is when certain buddies are allowed to stay home the day before a long break...just because nothing crucial is going to be happening in the classrooms that day. Of course, this may or may not be reliable information, depending on how much adolescent embellishment and/or half-honest bragging is occurring in the cafeteria-chat-situation. But no matter how much truth is in the tale, one thing I have made abundantly clear: Don't even bother to ask...Not. Gonna. Happen. He did make an attempt to weasel his way out of attending school the Friday leading up to MLK weekend. Which I shot down practically before he could get the words out of his mouth. "But, we're just going to be watching movies!" he pleaded. Nothing doing. So he backpedaled, "Okay, how about I sleep in, and you drive me there...2nd period?" I'm sorry, exactly which part of "not a snowball's chance" is causing you difficulty, my precious child?

In startling contrast, there's his brother--who seems to be developing into a strong combination of me...and Hermione Granger. At my conference with his teacher in the Fall, she told me that sometimes he gets upset in class when he doesn't understand something immediately. (Inwardly, I winced and thought "Um, yeah...I apologize...blame his maternal genes....) And...he seems to put a great deal of pressure on himself to succeed, even in the complete absence of any outside demands on his performance. (Sigh. I'm sooooo sorry, honey. The good news is, I got over it by Middle School, when I gained enough confidence...and common realize that the world would NOT end if I got a question wrong on a test. Phew, was THAT a hang in there, buddy, and tough it out for the last few months of 5th grade, and all will be well...I hope...)

Fortunately, he seems to have settled in and be dealing well--to the point that he often comes home from school and happily shares pertinent facts about what they're studying, and raves about how interesting it is. Most of the time, Derek shakes his head ruefully, favors him with a bemused smile and says something like, "How are you even my brother?" However, this morning Riley announced at about 8:30 that his chest hurt and felt tight. I recommended that he use his handy-dandy inhaler, to see if it would solve the issue. But at 8:45 or so, when he was loading up his backpack to head out, I heard him crying. Naturally, I was concerned, and asked if he felt bad enough to stay home. Tearfully he shook his head, "No, I want to go to school." I eyed him doubtfully, prepared to swing either way, depending on how the conversation went in the next minute or so. When I made up my mind shortly thereafter and opined that it might be better for him to stay home and rest, he emphatically asked, "Can't I just try to make it through school?" It wasn't until after I'd put my foot down and declared that he was indeed going to be homebound for the day, that I was suddenly struck by the ludicrous nature of this exchange. "You must remain at home, playing video games, watching TV, reading, and being tended by Mom...instead of going to "work"...and that's my final word, young man!" (And yes, when he arrived in the afternoon and heard the story, Derek called him a "weirdo". No, no, we prefer "Dedicated Student"...or "Nerd Boy" will suffice...)

So there you have it, not quite the Felix and Oscar of our little academic ecosystem...but very different creatures, nonetheless. No matter, as long as they continue to get their "job" done, receive good reviews from their boss (um, make that "Report Cards" from their "Instructor"), and weather the occasional sick day, it's all good, I suppose...

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