Monday, March 31, 2014

It is Hard Being the Baby

There are 6.5 years between my oldest and youngest and 4.5 years between my middle and my youngest.  All those years makes my youngest truly the baby of the family.  And while there are perks to being the youngest...

There are also a lot of things that make being The Baby challenging.

...........................................................

You are almost never the first one to do anything.  No matter what you do your older siblings have probably been there and done that.  And sucked your parents dry of all excitement, enthusiasm, and picture taking abilities.  

You are constantly getting gypped.  Things that your siblings take for granted are out of reach for you. You know things like getting anything brand new and not a hand me down.  Or maybe getting a real live FUN-CATER-TO-YOUR-EVERY-WHIM babysitter who is not an older sibling.  And maybe even having your needs met immediately or at least not weeks later.

"Why didn't you tell me you had a huge hole in your sneaker?"  
"I've been telling you for weeks."  
"Hmmmm.  I am sure your sister must have an old pair of sneakers in the garage..."  


You are wise beyond your years.  Which can be nice, but can also make you the slightly inappropriate friend for your friends who don't have older siblings.   Your best bet in this situation is to stick with other "Babies" because it doesn't matter how much your parents insist that conversations remain age appropriate when you are around you will still absorb all that teenager-ness almost as if by osmosis.  So while your friends without older siblings are busy playing with American Girl dolls and Barbies you are busy trying to take the perfect selfie and working on your twerking skills.  You know for the 2nd grade club scene.


Over half your life is spent in the backseat of a mini-van.  Because your older siblings always have places to go.  You know all those pictures that show your older siblings on fabulous weekend day trips to the zoo, the children's museum, or the beach.  Sorry that is not going to happen for you Baby, there are now things that have to be done on the weekends.  There are football games to go to, softball games to be at,  and book reports that are due on Monday.  There definitely isn't any time for fun Baby activities.

Even though you don't necessarily feel like life is treating you fairly your siblings will always consider you to be mom's favorite. Just because you are The Baby.  Your siblings have spent half their lives hearing things like:

"Don't be so rough.  She is just a baby."  
"Don't aggravate your sister.  You know better, she is just a baby."  
"Please go play with your sister." 
And even the dreaded... 
"You can go with your friends The Baby just needs to come with you."  

They have also seen The Baby get endless babying because mom knows this is her last one.  This is her baby. And because your siblings think that you have grabbed that coveted "favorite" spot they will spend a lifetime making you pay for it whenever your biggest protector (your mother) is not looking.

So yeah being The Baby is hard.  And sometimes a little unfair.  And some days the only thing that keeps my baby going is the knowledge that in just 6 more years she will be, for all intents and purposes, the only child.  The only child living at home who intends to make her parents pay for every youngest child injustice she has endured over the years in dinners out, shopping excursions, and plenty of opportunities to be Daddy's date at baseball, football, and hockey games.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Accountability

Last Thursday was report card day.

We like report card day at our house.  

It is the day that our hard workers get to see the benefits of that hard work.

They would probably like the hard work to be connected to cold hard cash, but instead they have to be content with high fives, "nice jobs", "I'm proud of you", and a personal feeling of satisfaction.

So even though they would like the cash-ola the other stuff seems to be enough for my crew.  Or they have just given up trying to get any more from us.

So even though Thursday was report card day I definitely didn't anticipate any drama.

You know what they say about assuming...

As I was pulling up to the middle school I started getting texts.

Texts from TeenStar who was staying after school for softball practice.

She was livid.

She was mad because the music teacher gave her a C for effort.  In middle school the electives like art, gym, music, etc are graded on a pass/fail basis and then the child is given a "grade" for effort.  The music teacher dared to give my Type A TeenStar a C.  And he was about to feel the wrath.

She texted me that she was on her way to his classroom.

About 10 minutes later she texted me that the music teacher wouldn't budge in his grade because he felt that she didn't put enough effort into a project.  

She was still mad and of course had her own opinions on said project.

But she let it go.  Mostly because she never has to have middle school music again and my guess is that she knew she didn't give it her best effort and her initial anger had to do to the fact that a teacher had called her out on it.

I, of course, could have followed up with the teacher and made my case for TeenStar, but I figured she had probably done a good job on her own.   I also felt that perhaps she was learning a valuable lesson. She was learning that everything you do or don't do can have repercussions and sometimes you need more than just your reputation to glide through (no matter how hard you have worked for that reputation).  She was learning if you want that "A" for effort you need to put forth the effort all the time not just when you feel like it.

She was learning about accountability.

As I was reading the first of TeenStar's angry texts Golden Boy was hopping into the mini-van.

As he settled himself in the front seat he happily declared, "I made Honors!"

I congratulated him on his accomplishment and asked him to read me his grades as I pulled away from the school en route to the elementary school for Princess.

"In Language Arts I got an 80."

"Sci-"

SCREECH!  Hard Stop! 

"WHAT????"

Only kidding I didn't really screech my tires and come to a hard stop because that would have been a little bit dangerous in the middle of school pick up traffic.

I did yell "WHAT" and give him a major side eye.

"An 80% is not acceptable.  No way.  You know that."  

I started to launch into a major tirade about the grades we expect from him and how school is his job, his first priority,  but then stopped myself because I figured I had better hear the rest of his grades first.

Fortunately the rest of his grades were great.  More than great.  Excellent. Definitely what the type of grades we have come to expect.

But there was no way I could overlook that Language Arts grade.  Now to be fair Language Arts is definitely his weakest subject.  The writing gets him all the time.  Everything about the writing gets him.  The actual physical act of writing is an issue (I can't even describe his handwriting.).  Spelling is an issue. Sentence structure is an issue.  Paragraphs are an issue, actually not as much as sentences, but still an issue.  Conveying his thoughts accurately is a struggle.   He is crazy articulate in discussions and conversations and always gets tons of credit for contributing productively to class, but ask him to put his thoughts in writing and all of sudden he is hot mess.  I know Language Arts is his weakness, but he had never brought home a grade that low before.

As we sat in the elementary school parking lot I officially interrogated Golden Boy about the root of 80%.

Unfortunately he had no answers.

He just kept on repeating "I don't know".

AAAAAAAHHHHH!  "I don't know" makes me crazy.

I just kept repeating "You have to know.  It's your grade!"

Ah yeah we were getting no where fast.

So finally I told him that he was to go see his Language Arts teacher after school to find out why.  He was to ask his teacher why his grade was an 80%, what he needed to do during the current term to improve and then be prepared to report back to me.

Which prompted some emails to the teacher because of course Golden Boy didn't know the day she stayed after school and of course she didn't have a school website so he could look it up quickly (first year teacher).

So even though I wanted Golden Boy to be the one to figure out this mess I emailed her with the request that Golden Boy stay after one day to discuss his grade.  Honestly I didn't leave it to him to ask the next day because I figured he would forget (forgetfulness is part of his nature) and I just needed to know we would have some resolution so I could move on.  

But I totally wasn't going to be the one to develop a plan to fix his grade or talk to his teacher about why his grade was what it was.  (I honestly think he didn't really know why.  Like he hadn't given it that much thought.)  

I wasn't doing it because it was his grade.

And he needed to figure out how to fix it.

He needed to learn some accountability.

She replied back that Golden Boy was an excellent student and a wonderful contributor to the class and she would be happy to meet with him one day the following week.

I read the email to Golden Boy and let him know that he needed to figure out what went wrong.  He needed to have answers about his unacceptable grade.

Don't get me wrong I would love to swoop in and meet with Golden Boy's Language Arts teacher to get a full run down on what happened the past few months.  Frankly I'm not really confident that she is meeting his needs as a student who struggles with writing.  Not because she isn't a good teacher, but because she is just not that experienced.  I would love to meet with her and immediately FIX this issue.

But I really feel like I need to hang back.  Golden Boy is 12.   He knows writing is a struggle for him.  This is his issue. He needs to have first crack on fixing it. He needs to own it.  I need him to know that these are his grades and that grades are not important just because mom and dad say they are.

Accountability.

Of course I will get involved if I have to (You totally didn't think I could just let it go, right?), but I am hoping he can do most of the heavy lifting and feel a sense of pride at the end of the school year about the way he handled things.

These middle school issues are a HARD.



Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Middle School Milestones

TeenStar is an eighth grader.  Last year of middle school.  

***sob***

I never would have guessed that I would be so sad to see middle school end.

And even though I am a hot mess thinking about middle school ending and high school beginning TeenStar has been waiting for this year and all the festivities and rites of passage it holds since the 5th grade.

Things like picking classes for 9th grade, 8th grade dinner dance, Six Flags field trip, and Middle School Graduation.

One of the most anticipated annual traditions in 8th grade is a big fundraiser to help generate some moolah for all these events.  In our town the big fundraiser has been an 8th grade lip sync for more than a decade.  

It is pretty much a big deal.

The kids have been thinking about it for months.  

Picking groups.

Picking songs.

Thinking about costumes.

After the holiday break though the 8th graders were forced to get serious because deadlines were looming.

There was drama.

Because of course.

And more drama.

Because they are teenagers.

There was schlepping to various rehearsals.

Money was spent.  Sigh.

In the midst of all the drama other things started to happen. Groups started coming together.  Compromises on songs were made.    Someone(s) in the group started organizing things.  Parts were negotiated.  Dances were choreographed. Decisions were made as a team.  And before you knew it they were almost 100 8th graders  working together towards a common goal.  Working together to put on the most epic 8th grade lip sync ever!  

Or at least the best one in 2014.

It is all kinds of clever that the 8th grade teachers use this team building activity as a fundraiser.  Those middle school teachers are wicked smaht.

Last Friday night was finally the night of the Lip Sync.  It was great.  

Okay, Okay it was epic.

Even with more than a few terrified 14 year olds up on stage performing.

TeenStar performed with her group of besties and deemed it one of the best nights of her life.  She went to a lip sync "after party" and then all the girls spent the night at one friend's house.  And to top it off coffee and bagels were delivered to them the next morning by a very kind mom.

Yup I would say she had a pretty good 24 hours.

TeenStar did awesome.  She definitely loves to perform.  The girls picked Crazy In Love for their song.  I thought it was an interesting choice, but they definitely worked it out.










I keep on telling TeenStar that these are the girls that are going to be in pictures from all her major life events for the next five years. And then I get a little catch in my throat.   She thinks I am weird.  





The teacher who organizes the event also asked the girls to open the second act with a little Blues Brothers type of instrumental performance.   And they were happy to do it.


This week was spent picking out classes for next year.  

I seriously feel like I am going to be more of a crying mess when she starts high school than I ever was for that first day of Kindergarten.  This whole ending of middle school is hard.

Did you have any fun events to mark the end of middle school?




I am linking up with Shell to Pour My Heart Out.