Choices & Consequences: Dubious at Best

Looky, Mom! I got an A on my report card!

Your Vocabulary Score: A-

Congratulations on your multifarious vocabulary!
You must be quite an erudite person.

How’s Your Vocabulary?

And the RTR does fairly well in that area also, but suffice it to say the school shenanigans have surfaced again. In other words, periods of time where small things like several homework assignments in a row aren’t done. Or a zero shows up on a quiz for absolutely no reason on this Earth. None.

That means I have to have one of those conversations with him—those I absolutely can’t stand and really wonder whether they do any good at all.

“Blarg,” as The RTR would say. Just Blarg.Blarg! is how I feel about all this.

So the conversation went something like this…

Me: (annoyed, but feigning calmness) Can you tell me about why you didn’t get these assignments done?

The RTR: (looking at me with a pleasant expression) I just didn’t do them. That’s all.

Me: So when you said you were doing your homework, you were only doing some of your homework.

The RTR: (eyebrows begin to flatten a bit) Yes. I guess.

Me: (knowing that I shouldn’t throw in this cheap shot and that I’ll pay for it as soon as it comes out of my mouth) So that’s like telling me a lie, isn’t it?

The RTR: (not blinking, just staring right at me) Yes. It is.

Me: Was it hard? Did you not understand it? Or…

The RTR: (beginning to tire of this interrogation) No, I just didn’t do it. I don’t know why.

Me: That doesn’t make sense to me. Homework is such an easy part of a grade and it can help make up for those less than stellar test scores.” (And isn’t this completely stupid when one considers that homework is practice, should help prepare for a test, and should be something that can mathematically improve a grade if a test does what a test should do, which is TEST.)

The RTR: (sits down at the kitchen counter putting hand against head and leaning elbow on counter) *sigh*

Me: (looking at the grading sheet and beginning to put two and two together) Wait. This assignment wasn’t completed on the day after our last discussion? The one where I told you that we all get to make choices and it’s your call about whether they’re good ones or bad ones. So yet again, I’ve just made noise. I’ve just been blathering for no reason. (sits on kitchen floor like a five-year-old who really wants to have a tantrum, and leans against the cabinet, completely disgusted and just wanting to make a spectacle at this point)

The RTR: (no longer as pleasant as he normally is and baring his teeth somewhat) I. KNOW. O.K.?

Me: (still sitting on the floor and realizing is quite cool and that I should do it more often to stave off the hot flashes I’m now on a first-name basis with) NO. IT’S. NOT. O.K. And when I’m the one who’s being rude to you, then you have the right to answer me that way.

The RTR: (calmer, but with a twitching eye) I’m. Sorry. But I already told you I don’t know why I do it. I just don’t do my work. And I don’t know why.

What do you say to a kid like this? Clearly he’s into self-torture. Go figure. So the inevitable happened. I warned him when we last talked. I told him the computer would be unavailable until he could establish a pattern of no missing assignments and a passing grade on his next math quiz/test which is looming Tuesday.

And so the computer was shut down, its whir no longer creating white noise 24 hours a day thereby reducing our gas & electric bill by a few bucks. It’s been off (and I know it because he hasn’t been in the house by himself since I imposed the ban). Since then, he’s gone to math tutoring, which is a feat in itself because he has to be reminded eight-thousand times. He’s handled it well, casting not one arched brow in my direction, and passing out hugs like he always has.

But it’s the weekend. And he keeps coming around the corner to see what I’m doing. It’s got to be painful hearing me click these keys when he can’t turn on his computer. To ease it up after two days in the dungeon, I tempted him with an opportunity to read Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis on line because we had been discussing perspective for a story he was writing for English. I figured he might be intrigued about a person waking to find himself transformed to an enormous bug lying on its back in bed and not able to do anything but think.

But no. So cool. I know where the line in the sand is drawn with him. He’s a cold turkey type of person.

And then the next day, still feeling sorry for him in his sans computer state, and because he needed to sign up for the SAT and the SAT II for World History (which he needs to take while the content is fresh and he has a 98% in that class!) I asked him if he could get on line and take care of it for me since it was really his job. He must have been techno-starved, because he took the bait on this one and sat down. Little did he know that it would take nearly as long as it took me to sign up for health insurance.

But he got it done and boy is that a relief to me since I won’t have to harass him about doing it.

The next day, I asked if he’d like to make dinner. I helped prep the ingredients, of course, but he pretty much cooked the Crab & Andouille Sausage with Rice that night, and did a very nice job.

The RTR Cooks while in the dungeon over school and restriction from his beloved computer

He’s struggling today, though, so it’s about time for me to go to the grocery store and leave him with his conscience. Will he get on line while I’m gone, or not?

I won’t check, because it’s not worth it. I choose my battles.

But I did tell him last time he came around the corner that we’ll negotiate after Tuesday just how much time he gets to spend on the computer until he can establish a steady record of completed assignments and consistently passing grades in all subjects on all assignments. I can no longer tolerate a B+ on a test, and then a D on the next quiz. Or a string of A’s on homework, and then three missing assignments in a row.

And I really got his attention when I told him that if it doesn’t happen, then he will lose the computer for a month. And I can blame this on Phil at Thought Sparks, because he stopped drinking coffee for 35 days and made a new habit that he has stuck with all this time. I wince when I think of not having my coffee, so more power to Phil. But I wince even more when I think of having to rationalize television watching as a better activity than some of what The RTR was doing on the computer, like sharing his sketches and hooking up with other kids who also sketch for starters.


I hope he cheats when I’m at the grocery store.

But the MoH just got home, so I guess that’s not going to happen.





11 responses to “Choices & Consequences: Dubious at Best”

  1. At least he admits he didn’t do the work. I just had a similar conversation with my 18 y/o darling daughter. Straight A’s except the one class in furniture design where it’s a 70-C. I’m all, but how can your grade be so low in THIS class when you plan on majoring in Interior Design? I mean…. *smack my forehead*… I don’t get it. Of course, the teacher hates her… oh, that’s it. She’s deliberately sabotaging her. Uh huh. More like, if there’s a teacher she has a personality conflict with, Alley Cat just goes into “SCREW YOU” mode and does as little as possible … which will surely win this teacher over.


    I do a lot of sighing. This isn’t an easy job, is it?

  2. I still remember when I was a teenager (so many years ago it seems now) and I did stuff (or decided not to do) for no apparent reason. And when my mom told me that I was going to pay double with my kids what I was doing to her, I decided not to have kids. I don’t like to torture myself. Haha.


  3. Hey Tammy — your daughter’s furniture teacher probably realizes she has some talent and is pushing her. That’s usually the case. The kids see it as the teacher being mean to them or not liking them and you’re so right about your daughter’s response to that. I’ve seen it so many times. I would have LOVED that class. How cool is that? And I do a lot of sighing, too. Nope. Not an easy job. Not at all.

    Hey Ben. I can hear you saying that to your mom. I swear I may have said the same thing. I KNOW my mother said it to my sister who used to have some pretty spectacular tantrums, telling her she’d pay some day, too. Life’s interesting like that, yanno?

  4. I got a B+

    Now I have to figure which ones I got wrong!

  5. Embarrasing as this is I am:

    Your Vocabulary Score: C

    Your vocabulary is average.
    You’re not exactly a literature major, but no one’s going to accuse you of being illiterate!

    I think I need to start reading my dictionary and thesaurus again

  6. loripea

    The kids had progress reports on Friday. My one kid didn’t bring it home, said the teacher forgot to hand them out. They were the only class that didn’t get them. I’m too tired to care anymore. I wish I had been on the couch drinking beer and watching soaps so there would be a reason as to while she had no motivation in life.

  7. So, what you’res saying, it’s only going to get worse for those with younger ones? Getting my 8yr old to do her homework, which like you said, is all review, is like pulling every. after. noon. AGH!! It does sound like he’s following in his Mom’s foot steps in one way….Dinner must have awesome!! And I am DROOLING over your oven.

  8. “So yet again, I’ve just made noise. I’ve just been blathering for no reason.”
    Gah! So you mean you can hear my screaming all the way around the country? Cause I’ve used these exact words so many times this past school year I’m thinking this is an echo…
    My monkey is in 7th grade this year and I feel like if I hear the words “I don’t know” one more time I’m going to have to poke my eyes out in sheer frustration. She’s always been an A student but this year she just decided not to do some of her homework. OR even better (for slowly killing her mother) she does it but forgets to turn it in. ACK! Just kill me now cause I won’t be able to survive high school me thinks…

  9. This doesn’t sound like the RT that I know and love. What can you do. It was all so different when I had teenagers, or was it that I was different and you sank or swam? I was so lucky that mine didn’t sink. I am sure your will not sink.

  10. Oh Kelly….Just keep reminding yourself you have a good kid there. A really good kid.
    School is not always enjoyable and homework is usually especially un-enjoyable. It sounds like he is just asserting his independence. Y’know…I don’t feel like doing it, so I’m just not going to. We all do that as adults, so I’m not sure why we expect it not to exist in our kids. Heck, I could show you the list of things I am procrastinating about or just plain ignoring right at this very moment. Of course there are consequences….for us, as adults, there are natural consequences. Right now for the RT, you are imposing consequences. That is all you can do. He is in control of making his own choices, and for the most part, makes good ones. Keep on doing what you are doing. Remember, you’ve had many more years of learning how to make more good choices than bad. He’ll get there. When you get really frustrated with him…think about the last time you should have been getting something done, and didn’t. It may just give you the perspective you need to keep from poking your eye out with a spork. 🙂 Ahhh, children. Never a dull moment.

  11. […] when the hunkster wasn’t going to be home until 8PM and my son, who is in the dungeon over some missing school assignments and banned from the computer, accepted my request to join me in making dinner.  He actually […]

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