Monday, April 30, 2007

I Lied!

In my last post, if you recall, I said I was going to retire for the night because since my son hadn't appeared by that time tonight, he evidently wasn't going to stop by at all this evening -er, this morning as it is now.
Well, about two minutes after I put that post up, this vehicle pulls up in front of the house, backs in and I know by the tail lights I can see through the living room window that it is Clate, come to call on me at what time? Yeah, about 1 a.m. I think it was then.
Seeing him pull up at this hour of the night usually means he has been "out and about" -doing some things he's been doing a lot more than his sister and I like to see him doing too, of late. He's been doing a lot of running around when he is home between runs, drinking a lot more than he really should be doing which is why his sister and I have been getting really upset with him for the past several months now.
I don't want to see him get arrested and end up with a DUI which would end his truck driving career before he even gets it going for openers. I also don't want to see him get into trouble beyond that by being involved in any accidents whether it just be smallish ones with damage to the vehicle or possible much more serious accidents involving other people who are hurt, maimed even killed or that he manages to get seriously injured or even killed too.
Having gone through this type of situation between 1973 and 1980 with my ex-husband, I can feel the tensions building within me and the worry and anxiety setting in. I know too from what I learned through Al-Anon thirty years ago now that I can't force my son to stop doing these things; that he has to reach that conclusion on his own and turn himself around. But boy, it is such a difficult path to walk down - not just for him but for me, for Mandy - for all of us here who love him dearly and care so much about him and his welfare.
We talked tonight for about two hours -or almost that long - some of it was pertaining to his drinking, yes. Whether he will take any steps towards correction of his issues, that I don't know. I can only hope and pray that he will see the light and act upon it appropriately. Right now, he sees the light but doesn't care to walk in that path and is in denial of how serious this situation can become and how rapidly it can also waltz in on a person and almost in the blink of an eye, overtake their life.
But that aspect isn't what I'm posting about -not really. Rather it is about a discussion we got into tonight about something else that is a major sore subject in the family. Education.
We have issues with the stepgranddaughter whose grades are not very good in math and in science. Right now, she is on the verge of failing both subjects this year. She managed, when put under a lot of pressure from the school to get both subjects up slightly so she could continue to participate in the school's drama club and to perform a very important role in the school play back in March. She also signed up to participate in the junior softball team too but was told on Friday of this past week she would not be allowed to play in their scheduled game yesterday (Saturday) because she was failing math now. Since she couldn't play in the game on Saturday, she hurried up and made arrangements to go spend the weekend with her mother and not even to attend the game yesterday with the team.
I don't think she realizes the consequences yet for having made that move - Mandy just found out today (Sunday) after talking to our neighbor, who is a teacher at the school, that if a kid is on a particular team sport and even if they are not allowed to play due to poor grades, if they don't attend the team function at all to cheer the team on, they will automatically then be booted off the team.
This kid has a history of signing up for various extra-curricular activities and then, once she finds out she has to move a muscle occasionally, or do a little bit more in the academic line than she cares to put out, she pulls away from the activity - and also from the grade/study aspects too. So far in the past three years, she has wanted to be a cheerleader and tried out for that not once, but twice but did poorly because she didn't put forth the effort, to go the little extra in the exercise department to have a good "show" in the tryouts plus, she also learned to be a cheerleader required maintaining a certain grade level too and that meant she would have to do dreadful things - like reading textbooks from time to time, completing homework and gee yes, studying too, of all the ridiculous requirements!
She insisted too that she wanted to participate in basketball one year, another year it was soccer but as soon as Mandy went and scraped together the money for necessary uniforms and gear, etc., she decided within usually a week or two then that she really didn't like basketball or soccer, etc. You get the picture there by now, I'm sure.
Her latest notion is that she insists she is going to go to college and that she is also going to go to the University of Arizona or Arizona State University - not sure exactly which one - but one of those two anyway. And, trying to explain to her that to attend a university that far from home, with out-of-state tuition rates doubling the cost of college, just from the economic factors alone, this is not a viable game plan. Plus, the fact she persistently ignores the rules of the game being to be accepted at a college - even a small school at the junior college level - one still has to have at least passed certain required courses and the higher in prestige the school, the more demanding their requirements to be accepted to attend there. But what the hell do I know anyway? In her eyes, this old broad just doesnt know what she is talking about at all and she will be able to just drift through high school and based on whatever, I sure don't know what, she will have this college just clamoring to accept her to attend there. Uh, think again, sweetheart!
This is where my son and I clashed tonight - locked horns you could say. He was not the best student in the history of our school district - not by a long shot. Not because he couldn't learn, but because if he didn't like a subject, saw no earthly need for it (in his opinion), he wouldn't even do the bare minimal amount of work to pass it. Because he failed general mathematics courses - all three that were needed for him to get his diploma, he was not allowed to participate in the commencement ceremony and they withheld his diploma until he showed the school that he had taken make-up courses and passed them. And, if he hadn't tried to get into the Army and been told by the recruiter he HAD TO HAVE his high school diploma, he probably never would have taken those three courses he needed. Which he did do and he passed with very little difficulty then too but he had to have a personal motive, an incentive, then to deal with what he thought for several years was an unnecessary entity in life.
Now, we got into a discussion about how colleges require that a student MUST take x-number of credits in various areas of study. Penn State, for example, requires all students MUST have at least a set amount (I think it is 60) credits in what they call the "Gen-Ed" credits: which means all students have to have at least 6 math credits, 9 in the natural sciences; 4 in the health/phys ed; 6 in courses dealing with history, 6 in humanities and you have to take a Speech communications course, at least two English/writing classes, 6 credits in the Arts. Maybe it is only 46 credits, I just don't remember exactly now. But my son's argument here is that why should people HAVE to take courses in which they have no interest, which -in his opinion - have no bearing at all on the courses that person is interested in, which really ARE NECESSARY to do whatever it is that the person has for a career goal.
And my response to him - although I do understand what he means there (I never liked math or science at all either) -in part, the idea is to assure that the graduate has a "rounded" education and has some concepts in these various areas and also, because it is necessary to learn that in life, regardless of one's occupation, there is always going to be some aspect to any job that one doesn't like but you still have to do it and perform half-way decently at it too. And, to take on subjects you don't like, which may be more difficult than others - and survive -it gives you more of the aspect of being responsible and able to persevere in life in general.
Let me put this question out here then to those of you reading this post - what classes did you take in high school or college which you felt were totally useless, and did you just scrap and skate by in them or did you try to get a reasonable grade to get it over and done with? And why do you think this is a requirement of colleges for students to take these various classes that the student may believe will never be used in a career of that person's choice?
The floor is wide open here - both in respect to answer my son's questions as well as perhaps tossing out some advice that could be applied to the stepgranddaughter to perhaps help to open her eyes as to the foolhardiness of her attitude about school, education, coursework, etc.
So let's hear your thoughts now!


Anonymous said...

Well, I used to agree with Clayton that it doesn't make sense to take those gen eds, however, I now disagree. Those first 2 yrs when most students take gen eds creates a well-rounded individual. Once I became an upperclassman I began taking only requirements for my major. While taking these classes I felt so isolated from the rest of the world. My whole life revolved around my major and I didn't have time to keep up with an extracurricular activities, unless you can consider working an extracurricular activity. Do we really want our BAs to have only classes in their major? That would make for some very narrow minded individuals. I'm not saying that I enjoyed taking some of the gen eds, but I can see the point. My advice to anyone who thinks gen eds are a bunch of BS--go to trade school. It is usually only a two year commitment and you don't have to take gen eds.

;) Does that help answer the questions?

Billie Jo

TomCat said...

When I was in high school and my first attempt at college, I thought all my courses were useless. I was a teenager, so I already knew everything. By the time I reached my second attempt at college, I had matured to the point that I now know that none of them were useless.

Jeni said...

Thanks so much Tom for your input and boy, especially to Billie Joe. Not only was it great to "hear" from you but I know, since Clate knows you so well, your input will definitely have some impact on him and his theory about the classes requirements, etc.
Thanks again so much to both of you for the input as I value both your opinions quite highly.

Skittles said...

Families can be such a great source of joy. Other times they can be a real pain in the rear! All we can do is love them and help guide them and hope they can figure LIFE out right.

Shelby said...

I agree with Skittles big time. You can only do so much and then it's up to them. Pray early and often. :)

Take care today.

Debo Blue said...

I was wondering what you were doing up so late Monday when I posted!

The step grand is going to have to face some hard truths when she sends out admission letters and she begins receiving decline letters.

When I was 18 I wanted to leave the state and attend Wellesly. Problem was I had neither Wellesly money nor Wellesly grades so I stayed home and finished my university degree.

Maybe step-grand will have to do like so many of us and learn the hard way.

Hope your son can master his weaknesses before something bad happens.

Herb said...

Hi Jeni,

It brought back many memories to read about your life in and around Lance, Winburne, Grassflat, etc. As a boy I used to spend my summers in Winburne where my grandparents had a home on an unpaved dirt road (off to the left) just up the hill from the old Lutheran church where my father and his siblings were confirmed in the '20's.

My grandmother had a brother John who lived in Lanse. He had been a police officer in Jamestown and also a coal miner. The neighbors across the street from my grandparents home were named Arway, and there were quite a few children in their family. Bill and Ruth Arway lived next to the Presbyterian church on the hill from Winburne to Lanse.

Some years ago I took my teenage children through Winburne on the way to an East coast beach. Memories flowed back very quickly and I relived a lot of experiences. My grandmother and grandfather, Carl and Alma are buried in the Grassflat cemetery along with my uncle and aunt, Louis and Esther who lived in Winburne for years.

I still remember picnics at Black Moshannon State Park, swimming at Coldstream (Sp?) in Phillipsburg, huckleberry picking near Cooper Township H.S. where my father went to school, and the Clearfield County Fair. Such experiences were not the same as going to Disneyworld but they were a big deal for me at the time.

I am currently a Lutheran pastor in Arkansas after having served churches on the mission field, New York and Missouri.

Thanks again, Jeni, for the memories.


Pastor Herb