I grew up with loving but strict parents. I am in my early 40s, so I didn’t have all the distractions of today like texting and constant access to the internet. We certainly had phones and video games, both of which were in my house. My parents made it very clear that since they knew I was capable, I was expected to get As. If a B slipped in every now and then, but they knew I was trying, that was acceptable. A grade of C was not tolerated. I don’t ever even remember discussions about Ds and Fs.
Fast forward to my adult life as part of a blended family. Unfortunately, education is viewed as a necessary evil in the “other” house, where being a victim grants you the ability to stay home with your children, but not actually educate them (one is homeschooled but only in theory), or make you feel responsible for cleaning your house, or even imposing limits on your teen children for really anything. It’s hard being a parent, you know, especially when you’ve been victimized your entire life. It’s much easier to lay on the couch or in bed, and post things about your difficult life on social media sites. If the kids are viewing highly inappropriate material or making remarks on their own social media sites that are worthy of an X rated movie, well I am SURE it’s somehow their father’s fault.
Hmm, I digress from the grades issue… my apologies.
As I was saying, Ds were not acceptable. Apparently two Ds, and an assortment of Bs and Cs are also OK, because “school is hard” and “he’s trying.” How is school hard, when you have teachers volunteering to help (seriously – they are VOLUNTEERING!) but the student doesn’t show up when he’s scheduled? Oh wait – I bet it’s because study hall is way cooler than getting help from a teacher. How is this teenager “trying” when they spend hours a day on their Xbox and on their iPod?
How you do fix this? Even MY parents struggle with some of our parenting choices. No, Mom and Dad, you cannot buy a replacement Xbox, not even for Christmas. I am NOT going to add to the problem by supplying the devices that interfere with studying.
My Atari 2600 would have been locked in a closet, if not dumped in a garbage can, had I come home with one D, never mind two.
I know, I know…. I am the WSM (wicked stepmother). My husband is the mean parent. We don’t buy $200 Jordans. We don’t buy Xboxes (in all fairness, I did buy him a game last Christmas when his grades were better). We don’t supply smartphones, just boring old phones with unlimited texting.
We give love and teach concepts like responsibility and generosity. We even offered to reroof the house, which has had a tarp on it for almost a year. This was through a local contractor, who gave us a quote of $6000. This is not “chump change” for us, and would have taken a sizable chunk of our savings. In the interest of helping the kids, however, we were prepared to do this. We requested to see proof that some money was going into the savings account to show that they were attempting to be financially responsible, not just making bad choices (see previous reference to Jordans and iPods, oh and two new 32G iphones). That, however, was being too intrusive, so our offer was refused. Several months later, we found out that the new wonderful stepfather had been to court five times in five years for garnishment of wages due to unpaid bills.
Well, at least we now know where the money goes.
Wait, I’m digressing again.
Back to the grades. He’s a sophomore. He doesn’t get that decisions he makes now, can impact his future. He doesn’t understand at this point, there are colleges that won’t look at him based on what he has done to his GPA. He doesn’t get that you can’t magically fix it. He doesn’t get that people aren’t going to bail him out, like they have his mother. His church will expect him to get a job and work after graduating. He will no longer be the “poor little boy” they shower with gifts at Christmas in an attempt to help “that poor woman whose husband abandoned her.” He doesn’t get that his Grandma cannot pay for him and his mother. When he turned 16, the discussions in our household got a lot less tactful. We flat out told him these things. We also said upon graduation, we expected him to go to college or get a fulltime job. Either way, the check to his mother would be reduced. This was not being done to be “mean” but because he was an adult. We’d be happy to help with tuition, if he chose that route, but it would not be through a check to his mother. Harsh words. We tried to explain why, but it’s still not an easy thing to hear.
Two Ds. D would have equaled devastating for me. To my child, they mean “don’t care.” Yes, I call him my child. I don’t expect him to call me Mom, but I have helped raise him (and his sister) and I love them like they are mine. I know they are not. I’m often reminded of that fact. Such is the life of a stepmother. I chose this path, and I don’t regret it.
I just wish D stood for something else.