A year ago almost to the hour, I published a post about deciding whether or not to let our ADHD kid fail (that kid would be Sweet Pea in case you are just joining us). Well, Husband and I have spent the last marking period operating over capacity at Sweet Pea’s homework with an increasingly sour attitude from the very child we are trying to, you know, help. I must admit, it involved calling Sweet Pea a Buttface behind his back with startling regularity.Here is how this went down. I am at work 2 evenings out of every week, so it falls on Husband to work one-on-one with Sweet Pea to drag him through his homework those nights while simultaneously cooking a delicious, nutritious dinner and parenting the other two boys. Exhausting. I have no idea how he has kept it up so long. I handle HW the other 2 nights and we sort of share it on the weekends. This involves hours of our time and constant re-direction of Sweet Pea. A typical conversation would go like this:
Parental Unit (sweetly): Sweet Pea, what homework do you have tonight?
Sweet Pea: None. I’m going downstairs to watch TV.
Parental Unit: Come back here, please. It says here on the eboard that you have to read pages 45-60 in Boring Book 4 and answer questions 10-15.
Sweet Pea: I did that already.
Parental Unit: Great! May I see it, please?
Sweet Pea: I left it at school. I am going outside to play Manhunt.
Parental Unit: Stay here, please. That’s a shame. So no TV for tonight.
Sweet Pea: WHAT?!?! WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT YOU ARE ACTUALLY TRYING TO MAKE ME MISERABLE NO ONE ELSE HAS TO DO THIS MUCH HOMEWORK HOMEWORK IS SO STUPID I DON’T KNOW WHY WE HAVE TO DO IT!!!!!
Parental Unit: If you want to have a tantrum, please do it upstairs in your room.
Sweet Pea: Oh, I found the assignment.
Parental Unit (taking slow, deep breaths): Great! Can I see it? Hmmm. Looks like you only answered a couple of the questions, and these 2 answers are too messy to read.
Sweet Pea: WHAT?!?!?! WHY DOES EVERYTHING HAVE TO BE SO PERFECT?!?!?! I CAN READ IT JUST FINE MAYBE I AM JUST NOT A SMART ENOUGH PERSON TO GET GOOD GRADES!!!!!
Parental Unit (through gritted teeth): Upstairs. Now.
(Stomping, loud mumbling and complaining fading into the distance)
Parental Unit: Buttface.
After a half hour cooling-off period, this process is repeated until either Sweet Pea goes to bed or the
whine wine runs out.
The over-extending on the part of husband and me had made all of us grumpy. The younger Shorties weren’t getting sufficient attention and the kitchen wasn’t getting cleaned after dinner and the dog hardly ever got fed. Well, not any more! Time to sink or swim, dude. Sweet Pea has now been relieved of his parents
nagging supervision of homework and missing assignments. Do the homework, don’t do the homework, it is up to him. We still care, but we just pretend like we don’t. I suspect my mom-friends who have teenagers have already discovered this. Husband and I are just kind of slow. That is how we are handling the buttface oppositional piece of this puzzle.
The next piece is the motivational problem. Sweet Pea has never found grades particularly motivating (dammit) beyond the exact moment he receives the grade. Because of this, we had to go to big guns: TV. If any of his average class grades, as reflected in Progressbook (online grade book kept sort of up to date) fall below a B, he has no privileges at home. That simply means that Sweet Pea doesn’t get to watch TV or play any video games. Don’t want that to happen, Sweet Pea? Figure it out. Motivation? Check.
Let me tell you, the kavetching was off the charts when we unveiled this little plan to Sweet Pea. OMG, you would have thought we asked him to remove his own kidney with a spoon. He even suggested that maybe he just isn’t that smart and can’t get good grades. That was fantastic! Sweet Pea loves him some screen time and the threat of taking it away has always affected him. But his tirade died down pretty quickly and he headed to school.
That was almost a week ago and you may be wondering how it is going. Well, the marking period started Monday, and by Tuesday he had a D in math because he bombed a test. We suggested (in a very nonchalant way, of course) that he consider attending the Math after-school-homework-help if he wanted to, of course. He refused. Doesn’t matter to me, I pretended. We wondered aloud if he would do the corrections for the test so that his grade would be improved. He said he had done them. (We will see if they ever get turned in.) We conversed with each other in Sweet Pea’s earshot about how a teacher might react if you asked nicely for extra credit to bring up one lone bad grade. No comment. We suggested he might ask Husband to work with him on some problems to prepare for the upcoming math test. Sweet Pea accepted that one. Doesn’t matter to me, I pretended.
Ultimately, I am happy to report that I am seeing more swimming than sinking. Although his grades are a A, B, C, C, and he hasn’t seen a screen in 6 days, he has been much more pleasant to be around. Sweet even. Sweet Pea also went and talked to his science teacher to follow up on a missing assignment and ask for extra credit (I know, right?!) That visit ultimately brought his F up to a D+ and he hasn’t even gotten the extra credit work yet. Sweet Pea also requested help and studied with Husband cooperatively for his most recent math test which he did not entirely bomb. It is dicey to watch our kid potentially sink and Husband and I fret about it when we are sure no Shorties can hear. But I am certain it needed to happen. We couldn’t keep up that kind of homework pace. There are five people (and one Doodle Dog) in our family and 85% of our parenting was going to one child’s schooling. This child simply needed to get his act together. Better than in high school, that’s for sure.
As it stands today, we are happy with our decision to chuck Sweet Pea into the water but if we need to throw out a life preserver,
I suppose we will. Right now he doesn’t need one at all and Husband and I couldn’t be happier. We have more free time and less stress. What could be better? I may even have to find someone else to call Buttface.