Wednesday, April 16, 2014

WTF Wednesday: My Underachieving Kid (And How They are Proud of It)

Kids hate school- I get that. Homework sucks, teachers suck, and projects? They really suck. I was once a kid. I know how it was. Hell, even as an adult, projects and homework are a tiny reason I have no desire to head back to college and get my degree. I get it.

This week's biggest WTF moment came when I found out just how much of an underachieving personality one of my kids has. And I'll tell you now, it's not the kid you think it is...

A little background, first, so you can fully embrace all that is the WTF moment:

Hubby and I are opposites when it came to school. I graduated 2nd in my class, he... graduated. When I was in the 9th grade (we didn't start dating until my sophomore year), we had an art class together, and the teacher put both of us in the same group for a group project once- I complained- heavily. I didn't want him in my group because I just knew he would bring my grade down. (The teacher laughed and didn't change a damn thing, either.) Then, a year later, we had a Criminology class together, and for some reason, there was just something new about the way he slept during class that got my blood pumping...

So yeah, me- overachiever, Hubby- slept in class.

I knew, statistically speaking, that one of our kids would probably adopt the lackadaisical personality like their father. Call it profiling or whatever, but I figured it would be The Ginger- my male offspring.

Nope. In a strange turn of events, it ended up being The Girl. My female offspring. The child who tested so high on the GATE (gifted and talented education) test that they placed her in a special GATE program within the school system.

She's currently in the 6th grade and has a few projects due, as the school year is ending in roughly one month
from now. She came home one day, complaining about how much work her teachers gave her, how unfair it was, blah blah blah.

She's had these projects for over 2 weeks now. Just chose to... well... not do them until now.

Of course I started on a Mom Lecture about how she has to manage her time better, and how she's been doing nothing for the last few weeks when she should have been working on these projects, and how it's just going to get harder as she gets older.

She replied by complaining that her teachers hated her and didn't care about the work the other teacher gave her, blah blah blah.

Then she uttered words that made my over-achieving heart stop beating:

"It's fine, I'll just take a pink slip, finish this over the weekend and turn it in Monday." 

Wait? WTF is a pink slip? Is she getting fired from school? And why is it that I think a pink slip is bad, but my daughter is very nonchalant about it?

Upon further investigation, a pink slip means she admits to her teacher that she didn't get her work done, so she's given more time, but The Girl had no idea whether or not it affected her grade, nor did she care.

Crazy, in my eyes. I can't think of a single time in the entire history of my school career where I asked for an extension. I'm not saying I never did ask for one, I'm just saying, if I did, I've blocked that horrid memory from me ever remembering it.

Another Mom Lecture started, centered around how she needed to take pride in her work, and how when she was given a deadline, she needed to stick to it. I went on to tell her that she should want to impress her teachers and strive to do her best work possible. I explained to her about how, when I was in the 6th grade, I did an entire presentation, complete with a miniature scale model and reenaction of President John F. Kennedy's assassination and argued why it was impossible for Lee Harvey Oswald to have been the shooter (yeah, overachieving at its finest right there).

She sat and listened to my story, then made the statement that gave me the biggest WTF moment of the entire scenario:

"Yeah, Mom, well I just take after Dad then, with all of his laziness when it comes to school. And I'm okay with that. I don't want to be a teacher's pet, like you." 

Holy hell, I know she did NOT just say that to me.

My heart sank in my chest, immediately. Not only was my daughter not an overachiever like me, but she had no want or desire to even take pride in the work she was doing. She wanted to do the basic minimum needed to pass, and that was it.

Above all of that, she outwardly declared that she wanted to remain an underachiever.

Is this my kid??? Pic Courtesy

I love my husband, I do, but he only told the kids how he was in school, compared to how I was in school, as a motivator for them to take school seriously like I did. But my daughter must have missed that life lesson somewhere, and only heard that her Dad was this way, so now that's how she'd be.

I'm not exactly sure when I acquired my lust for overachieving in school; it's just always been a part of who I am. I liked competition, rising to the top, and impressing people around me, especially those who professionally critiqued my work (like teachers). I always took pride in school projects, going the extra mile to put the right finishing touches on something before I turned it in.

Did I procrastinate? Oh hell yes. Many a time did I wait until the last minute to do a project, probably cursing my teachers in my head a time or two, but it was those times that I just deprived myself of sleep, begged my mom to help me until the wee hours of the morning by promising extra chores or that I would never procrastinate again (Ha!), and got the project or report done. Never did I just throw my hands up in the air and accept ordinary.

I just don't get it. I don't understand how my offspring just accepts middle-of-the-road; how she has no drive in her; how she doesn't want to shine or even put something together that she's proud of.

And more than all of that, I don't understand how she's perfectly content being that way. How does it not just eat her up inside? It would tear me alive, not standing out from the rest of the crowd.

All I could do was sit in silence and shake my head. I softly explained to The Girl that all I wanted for her and The Ginger was to take pride in their education and projects they turned in, because the projects were a representation of them. I told her that I wanted her to have respect enough for herself to do her best work, and know, without a doubt, that she couldn't have done any better. Then, and only then, a project or paper is complete.

I think my words may have had an effect on her, because the next day she told me all of these ideas she had for not only her William Shakespeare project, but her book report presentation, as well. Unfortunately, this spark of motivation came with only 2 days before the deadlines.

Like my mother, looks like I'll be brewing a pot of coffee and burning the midnight oil to help my daughter create projects she is proud of, that tap into her full potential.

And I couldn't be happier.

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  1. I feel your pain- as a teacher and as a parent! :) Good Luck!

  2. I am not looking forward to this....thanks for the heads up.