When was the last time you wrote your child a LONG positive note? I know I am guilty of thinking I should make sure my kids know my thoughts on how proud I am of them, but don't always put it to pen and paper. But I am quick to grab a pen to let them know what they need to do (little household reminders of things forgotten).
There comes a time, I believe, when all that finger-pointing of mistakes leads to a breakdown of will. I don't know at what age, I'll leave that to the professionals. But I do know, that you get alot farther in life with a positive note. Take for example my youngest. Grant it, she regularly defies logic any chance given. Our "Cinderella in a Tree", with her take no prisoners, rough and tough, down and dirty exterior, is easy met with the cute mis-matched knee-high socks (that's a crazy style she would love to take credit for started over 4 years ago- only because she couldn't find a pair) and nice dress/outfit that most parents would say "NO" to going outside. I've learned since she could walk, she washes, and so do her clothes. Encourage all of her actions, so she can live up to her greatness.
That said... Tuesday night she had yet another softball game. (Big shocker) Upon arriving I noticed a super cool spider web type jungle-gym. While most parents would have looked at it and thought, "oh, great, one more distraction!" I thought- "Awesome, an incentive!" As we passed by the web she got super excited and I could see her insides meet her outside as her hands started to tell me about the one just like it at another park. I calmly told her she could play on it after her game IF and only IF she hit the ball to the grass. (To date, since moving up to the higher division she hadn't done so, but has been playing really good ball none-the-less). At first, she looked at the grass field as though that was impossible, but then looking at the spider web, it became a mission. Her first at bat, BAM! Hit (grant it the hit was a tad late and she swung late) between 1st and 2nd landing where... the grass! As she rounded 1st (safe) she said to her coach, "did that hit the grass?" When her coach said, "That was an AWESOME hit, YES!" giving her a High-Five. All the sudden you see a player jump up and yell, "I'm playing on the spider web!" Now, I could have said before the game, "you've been hitting like crap this season, nothing has gone to the grass like before, what makes you think you have earned the right to play on the spider web?" BUT what exactly would that have done? Yet time and time again I hear that sort of thing played out. So sad! Instead, I turned it around, I reeled in her energy and gave her a goal. She met it with total force, and beamed the whole game. Her coaches said afterwards what a great game she played.
This morning, I started to write her a note to make sure she didn't forget her homework I had found on the table. As I wrote the note I realized, I needed to remind her of how proud I am that she is even in that class. This year as a 6th grader she is taking many 7th grade classes. In 8th grade (upon completion) she will earn as many as 6 high school credits, which will allow her to continue to work towards completing high school early and then working on college credits starting her Junior year (she can take an AP class her Freshman year for at least one credit). All that said, last year her class was inundated with information about what they attributed to the "freshman/middle school" failure. Kids entering middle school who enter a whole new world of friends, fun, and failure. Getting in with the wrong crowd, trying to fit in, and taking classes over their heads, creates the perfect storm for disaster. Add to it social media and the constant change of friends and relationships- the storm intensifies to an all out hurricane.
Being the youngest, she does have several advantages. We have learned from many mistakes with our other two, and in doing so, learned that the SCHOOL really does matter. Sad but true. Often society is so quick to point to parents as not being involved as the quick escape goat. But having three kids in the "system", I can attest, I have three very different outcomes. And "involved" takes on a truly different meaning, when it comes to the schools, I am very sad to say.
So as her grades came out for the first grading period, being a daily watcher of the grades, thanks to an online service I like to call "parent-bust-a-kid-connect", they call it "Portal"- yeah whatever, I was able to see that when there was an assignment and it wasn't "turned-in" what was really going on. Problem- 1)teachers don't always keep their gradebook up-to-date (and they admit it at least) 2) some teachers wait till the last minute to enter grades. So your child has an A for most of the grading period then the last week of the grading period a million grades get entered and BOOM- A -> D ah WHAT happened? And of course there is NO time to do anything! Luckily in my daughters case THIS did not occur. (as far as the grade dropping). Nope, her first report card out of the "gun" she got all A's and one B (which she was crushed). In high school she would have a crazy GPA since all the classes but 1 are honors classes, so even the "B" would have been worth 4 points... (weighted).
My letter to her.... I reminded her not to forget her homework, BUT I took more time to remind her how proud I was that she was doing so well in all her classes. That despite all the pressures of middle school life, she hasn't backed away from being "Elizabeth". She continues to make us very proud.
Taking a moment to provide a positive note, might not seem like much, but I'm sure, that in the end (I mean years down the road), it will make a lifetime of a difference!
End on a positive note, I try in my Life in Blogging.
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