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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

When Being "Just a Mom" Gets Tough

Everyone here for a post on books or writing move along... I'll have something for you on Wednesday. For everyone else, sit down, this could take a bit.

Today was Report Card Day. The girls are allowed to do gymnastics and horseback riding as long as no grade slips below a B. I don't think this is too much to ask. Both girls have been straight A students for several years.

And then Eldest came home with a D, and Miss Pink with a C.

Here's where the parental dilemma comes in. I know my girls love their activities. This is routine for us. They love gymnastics and their horses. For them to stay competitive in their sports, they need to practice regularly. For them to stay competitive at school, they need to get better grades.

And it's all a competition. College is expensive, but it's the only way to get into most jobs nowadays. Worse, the funding at the grade school level goes to the sports and the smart kids. If you want your kid to do more than sit in a classroom learning by rote, you need to be in the advanced classes.

The advanced class goes on monthly field trips... the regular classes don't have field trips after first grade.

The advanced class has updated science books... the regular classes are struggling to learn from a ten year old text.

The advanced class does hands-on projects... the regular class gets to watch a movie filmed 20 years ago.

The girls just advanced to the competitive class for gymnastics. They're training for spring competition and as it stands I can only afford to send them one day a week. The coach prefers the students to attend 2-3 days a week. Do I pull them out of that?

Where's the balance here?


I'm siding with grades. They're out of activities until the grades come up. And my children are in tears. I feel like a tyrant. I feel mean. This is the unfun part of parenting. I have to make a choice. I don't know how it will turn out. I don't even know if it's the right choice, because I'm not sure the activities are the problem!

Welcome to adulthood. There are no good answers.


  1. I understand and agree there should be consequences for the grades, but I'm not sure that interrupting other activities that require discipline and practice is a good idea. (Although believe me I understand its hard to go back once a policy has been announced.) Maybe the other activities can resume if it's agreed that extra work will go into bring up the grades every day.

    1. That's an argument that's been put out. And part of the problem lies with the school. Both girls have low grades in science. Science books are not allowed to be brought home. There is no science homework, but there is a weekly science vocabulary test... which they can't study for outside of class.

      I'm emailing the teachers tonight and asking for the book titles and editions. If all else fails, I can buy the books and keep copies at home for the kids.

    2. I don't understand that logic. How can the kids study if they can't take the books home and there's no homework outside the class?

      Not every student can complete all the assignments in class and the teacher can only help one student at a time. So, either the workload is light enough that the slowest student can finish everything in class, which makes the other kids bored and disinterested, or the workload is set for the average student and the ones that take longer won't finish their assignments.

      As for the vocabulary test, can't the girls make a copy of the list to bring home and study?

      Was a reason given for why their marks were so low? Incomplete assignments, low test scores? Knowing why the marks are low will help in determining what they need to do to bring up their marks.

      As far as the other activities are concerned, the agreement was they were allowed to do them as long as their grades stayed up. Their grades fell and so the other activities have to stop until the grades are back up. This is part of teaching them to be responsible and that their actions have consequences. Too many parents give in and we end up with young people with no sense of responsibility and who think the world owes them.

      I had to be strict about grades versus other activities only a couple of times with my daughter. Funny thing is, a couple of years ago she thanked me for making her see that she had to choose her responsibilities carefully so that she could do what she agreed to do.

    3. Eldest had three teachers in her science class this past 9 weeks, which may be part of the problem. They changed teachers, and missed tests that weren't given may have been marked as zeroes. We're still sorting it out.

      My younger daughter's teacher has flat out refused to let the science work come home. Her email said parent help was unnecessary. Which it obviously isn't. The older daughter's teacher said he would try to send work home, but books are shared. It really is a very poor school. I may go out and buy the text.