The phone rings in the middle of the day and the caller ID is from Junior’s school.
Three things cross my mind: He’s in detention. He soiled himself. He got hurt.
“Hi Mrs. King, this is your son’s Math Reach Teacher.” (Reach is the accelerated program at school.) “I wanted to talk to you about your son’s recent performance in class.”
I break into a sweat.
I have been so absorbed in work insanity and making sure that Missy was staying on top of her middle school stuff that I have no idea how he has been doing in third grade. In fact, in the fall he went two months without doing his Reading homework assignments. He spent a week making up the work during recess, after school and on the weekend and was grounded from video games.
“Um, what about it?” trying to fish out if he was failing or being quadruple promoted.
She couldn’t have been kinder as she explained that he has recently been struggling on his homework and tests.
I admitted that I haven’t been paying attention to him and had no clue about his scores. I just quickly scan the piles of school papers for permission slips and put them into the recycle bin. “No News is Good News” over here!
We set up a meeting for the following week.
When he got home, I asked Junior if he was having a tough time in Math. He just shrugged his shoulders and said that a couple of the units were hard because he was sick one day and had a sub another. He didn’t bother to ask anyone for help.
I gently told him that I spoke with his teacher and that we were going to meet to see how we can help him do better in class.
My son started to sob. “I’m gonna get kicked out of Reach!”
“Buddy, you aren’t getting kicked out. We just want to figure out how to get you back on track.”
“But mom, it’s the only thing I am proud of at school.”
My heart broke. He is nine years old. He shouldn’t have to worry about where he ranks. And we’ve never put the pressure on (obviously) to be perfect.
“You have a lot to be proud of. You are a creative writer. You are great at math. You like to read. You have lots of friends. You have an incredible sense of humor. You can make people laugh. Please don’t worry about this.”
“But mom,” he cried, “being in Reach just proves to everyone that I am smart.”
He buried his head in his hands and continued to cry.
When did being a little kid become so hard?
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