Friday, November 27, 2009

"He's just not working up to his potential..."

My son thinks "outside the box". He always has. I know every parent thinks their child is the cutest, smartest, funniest, etc. But I truly feel my kid thinks differently than a lot of his peers. In fact, if you put him in a roomful of kids and adults, he'd much rather converse with the adults. He's literal, logical, and dare I say smarter than me sometimes.

Blessing or curse? You decide.

In primary school, lessons came pretty easy to my son. He never had too much homework, and any he did have, he breezed through. In fourth grade, he was recommended and accepted into the gifted program for middle school.

I was warned that some students struggle at first because they are used to having the best answer, the first answer, the "right" answer. Now, in a roomful of students that are as "smart" or "smarter" than you are, it's sometimes quite an adjustment to not always be the first to raise your hand.

What I wasn't quite prepared for was the apparent complete lack of motivation that my son would showcase as he fumbled through those middle school years.

I guess I thought that in a school full of kids "just like him" he would feel challenged - would WANT to rise above - would STRIVE to do the best he could do. Not so. In fact, he seems to be reveling in his mediocrity. He's even threatened to flunk out so he can be put in an "easier" school where it won't be so difficult for him to excel.

And the thing is - he knows this stuff. It isn't hard for him. He just doesn't want to do it. I told him it was one thing to be struggling with the material - but he's not. He's just... lazy.

I wonder sometimes where I have gone wrong in his upbringing. I look back to my own and I know for a fact that there was a definite work ethic instilled in me from a very young age. Do it, and do it well. Why have I not passed that on to my child?

I am at the point where I have done everything I think I can do to light a fire under my son. Incentives, punishments, tutoring, coaching, praising, encouraging... my last ditch effort was to threaten to show up in his math class two weeks from Monday if he didn't step it up a notch. Judging from his reaction, that might just be the ticket - this time.

I have told him time and time again that even if he doesn't have faith in himself, I have faith in him. I know he can do this. It's not rocket science to him. He just doesn't feel like it. And yes, I could let him sink or swim - but I tried that, and he sank.

So for now, I'm pulling out all the stops to try to find the magic formula to make my child WANT to succeed. But I somehow feel like that parent that shakes her head wistfully as her 35-year-old son kisses her goodbye to set out on his world tour with his heavy metal band... "He had so much potential!"

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