I am a father of three beautiful, talented and amazing children. This is the first year in which each of our three kids attend a different school. Our mornings are hectic and we are crunched for time, so that I may get each child to school without being tardy. They rarely eat a nutritious breakfast to get their day off to a great start. Sometimes my 13-year-old goes to school wearing his 7-year-old brother’s shirt or shorts. Many times, my 7-year-old goes to school with mismatched socks, orange shorts and a red shirt, as if he is auditioning for a part as a clown in a school play. Neither boy makes any attempt to do anything with their hair. My daughter, who is now in high school, has a closet full of clothes, yet she keeps a solid rotation of five outfits she prefers to wear week after week. I’ve resorted to hiding things, just to make her wear some of her other clothing.
This year, the kids are in 2nd, 8th and 9th grade. There have been many ups and downs along the way. I’ve learned that I have to be able to handle each challenge and each child differently. Compared to those years when I was going through the public school system, it seems like a whole new world today.
I always thought I’d be the good dad, who would sit down and help my kids with their homework when they needed it. When my oldest two began junior high, they both struggled in math. I figured this would be my time to shine . . . Dad to the rescue! I quickly realized, this thing called “Common Core” was beyond my comprehension. I felt helpless, and like some sort of a high school dropout with 6th grade level intelligence. I had to set up tutoring sessions for each of them during 7th grade. While my daughter caught on and ended up getting good grades for the year, my son did not. He struggled all year. His struggles in math led him to give up in other classes as well. He wasn’t doing his homework, or attempting to retake tests for better grades. He started to lash out with the teachers. He teetered between an F and D in math, and D and C in science and history all year. It wasn’t until I took him to the doctor to get a checkup, I realized his prescription for ADD was no longer working. After getting an adjustment in his meds, he was able to finish with three C’s in those classes where he had struggled. He has started his 8th grade off with all A’s and I couldn’t be more proud of him.
I felt pretty good about getting a teenage daughter through junior high, without many issues. I have tried to be up front and honest with her about the things she will be introduced to throughout her school years. I had pre-warned her about the possibility of boys asking her for inappropriate photos, and sure enough, her school was in the news, as police confiscated phones from 7th and 8th graders who were sharing these types of photos. I was happy to learn she was not involved. Now she is a freshman in high school. She has a good heart and she is beautiful inside and out. Just last week, I found out she has a “boyfriend,” who according to her, was a sophomore. I had a discussion with her regarding high school boys, dating, and my expectations.
The very next day, a family friend whose son attends the same school, called me and informed me my daughter is holding hands in the hallways with a Senior. His son had sent him a text about it. I spent the rest of the afternoon digging up as much info on this boy that I could. My daughter and I had a long night of talking that evening, with what I believe to be good results. I did have to ground her from her phone for lying to me, which she understood.
There are so many things that can cross up our children as they make their way through school, grade by grade. As parents, we have to give them room to learn and grow from mistakes, yet we have to constantly be aware and stay on top of things so we can keep them safe from the huge mistakes.