Tuesday, September 21, 2010


The Teen had his first test in a High School Honors class yesterday.

A little background here. This was the kid who brought me to homeschooling. The kid who had the ADHD so bad he couldn't sit still in circle time, the one who threw the blocks instead of building with them, the one who would run over to a group of kids who were playing nicely with a ball... and take the ball.

Eight years and a lot of medication later (and a lot of blood, sweat and tears on my part), we ended his time as a homeschooler and put him in Catholic school. And he's done fine. Well enough to test into this Honors science class - taught by my own High School teacher and mentor, who is still there, tough as ever.

And she remembered me.

She should have. Biology was my Thing. I majored in it in college (at first, anyway) and I studied Developmental Psychobiology during my additional 5 years of graduate school. This was the teacher who turned me on to science in general and biology in particular. I was thrilled that he tested into her class.

But he felt out of place. "Mom, these are the Brainiacs. The top kids from all the feeder schools. I don't belong in this class."

Two words. Gifted underachiever. He's smart, but he refuses to work. (And, to his credit, he hasn't really needed to.) Doesn't want people to know he's smart. Doesn't want the label. More importantly, he doesn't want the expectations that go with the label.

So when it came time to study for this test, he was satisfied with 10 minutes of glancing over his notes and the chapter. "I know it. I'm going to go watch football."

Last year, I would have let him go. Let him make his choices and accept the consequences. But this was his first opportunity to make a good impression. To distinguish himself. And most importantly, to have a taste of what it feels like to really work hard for something and achieve it.

I put my foot down. "You will not leave here until you know this material."

"I know it. Quiz me."

And I did. And he had a sloppy grasp of the main concepts, but no more than that. When we finished, I said, "You could go in with that level of knowledge and get a solid C. If you want an A, you are going to have to put in the time and study for this the right way. There are no shortcuts this time."

There was wailing and gnashing of teeth, but he must have sensed that I really meant business because he sat down with me and I taught him my method. Rewrite the notes, integrating the lecture and the book. Organize. Make notecards. Memorize, use mnemonics. Repeat, repeat, repeat until you know it inside and out, backwards and forwards, including knowing how to spell the vocab words.

It was grueling, but he thanked me when we were done. (Total shock.)

So today, I'm at his soccer game. The game wraps up and I'm walking toward the exit as his team is lining up to shake hands with the other team. I hear him yelling for me as he's running over to line up. "Mom!!! MOM! Wait - don't leave!!!!"

I wait while the teams shake hands and he leaves them and runs back across the field to me. He shows me his wrist. He's written a 98% on it.

"That's what I got on the biology test. I had the highest grade in the class!"

The joy on his face - over a test grade *!* is something I'll never forget. Something I never thought I'd see from this kid who so frequently says, "I don't care about this" when challenged with schoolwork.

I was overwhelmed. It made my day.

I will remember this, and I hope he will too.

It's a great feeling.

1 comment:

notlikeacat said...

Sweeney!!!! I loved her. Congrats to your son!