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Rated: 13+ · Book · Experience · #940786
What's on my mind....
It's just me, Marie, trying it again in 2009
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January 18, 2006 at 11:25pm
January 18, 2006 at 11:25pm

As I watched the images captured by the university camera of the young men beating the helpless man on the ground with what appeared to be bats, my mind went right to video games. With the superior graphics of today's games and the somewhat grainy quality of the picture, it was almost as if I was watching over the shoulder of one of my sons as he played one of those violent video games that kids seem to enjoy so much.

Mind you, this is not a lecture against the evils of video games.

My kids played all of them when they were little, both tame and violent. Even though they are now grown, they continue to play them. In fact, when they come home to visit, the game systems arrive, packed in their carrying cases as an essential piece of luggage.

Raising my children, I didn't believe in a lot of censuring. It never worked with me as a kid. As soon as someone tried to cut me off from something, I went way out of my way to see what it was that was being kept from me. With my own children, I figured if I cut a thing out at home, one of their friends would have what I didn't want mine to have, and they'd get to it anyway.

The best thing to do, I thought, when it came to those games or anything else unsavory was to talk with my kids about what was real and what was fantasy. We had conversations that reinforced what was role playing and what was reality. In short, we talked.

We had conversations about things and we exchanged ideas. I talked with them and they talked to me. I shared my values with my sons, and in having them share theirs with me, I was able to "see where their heads were". Even though they are now 26, 24, and 18, and they started way back there with Atari and Bally, working their way through Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Playstation I and II, and the X Box, not one of them has, to my knowledge, taken to heart and acted out the violence on the screen.

I think part of the problem with kids today is we talk to them, not with them. We tell them what we expect, but we don't take the time to see if we're being heard. Often what we say to kids is not reflected in what we say to each other within their earshot, nor is it always reflected in the things that we do in front of them. Kids are extremely perceptive; they know when we are being genuine and when we are not.

The incident with these young men was an ugly, sickening thing to watch. The video which was used to identify them as the perpetrators, was of their interaction with the one homeless man. I shudder to think what they did to the others, especially to the man who died, allegedly, at their hands.

As I looked on, the thing that stuck in my mind was that the one kid just kept hitting the man, over, and over, and over. Every time the man moved, the boy followed him. The man put up his hands to protect his face and head, but the kid kept swinging and hitting. The man rolled away, but the kid just kept zapping him, knocking him down as if every time he made contact, bells were pinging in his head and points were accumulating on some unseen screen.

The homeless men these young men attacked had become something less than human to them. They were nothing more than targets on the screen in some macabre realistic video game. It was Mortal Kombat with a very real fatality.

Somebody forgot to impress upon these boys that real is real. Someone didn't make it clear to them that all human life is valuable, no matter what color it is, no matter if it sleeps at night in a bed or a box. These boys were old enough to know better, but what they did wasn't something that got started on the day they got caught on that tape. The roots of that evil twist way back to something in their pasts.

As we grow busier and our lives become more complicated in our efforts to keep it all together, it seems we are seeing more and more bizarre, troubling behavior in our children. They're hoarding guns in our houses, building bombs in our basements, killing playmates and hiding the corpses between the mattress in their rooms, becoming suicidal, all underneath our unsuspecting noses. The blame cannot all be placed on substandard schools, peer pressure, violent video games, the media, single parent families, or any of that. Some kids grow up faced with all of those elements and turn out just fine. Then others come from what appear to be ideal situations, and they beat up homeless people with baseball bats or hold a whole school hostage by bringing a gun to school.

I don't claim to have any answers. I wasn't in any way a perfect parent, in fact on some days, I felt far from it. But, I can only say with pride, and some measure of relief now that it's done, that my boys appear to have turned out all right. The only advice I can offer is pay attention to and talk with the children rather than at them. It is a matter of seeing them as people apart from us, and of taking real responsibilty for their upbringing, not just giving it lip service.

January 17, 2006 at 9:08pm
January 17, 2006 at 9:08pm
I love to journal, so I collect prompts to get me over the dry spots or to get me started. I have a lot of them now, and sometimes I like to look them over and get ideas for writing. This morning, I happened to be sorting out the ones I had with me, and the one that stuck out for me was "What Do You Feel Naked Without?"

My answer was earrings. I feel completely naked without my earrings.

My ears are pierced, twice in each ear and I never purposely leave the house without earrings in each hole. Even if I'm just going to the local Walmart, there will be earrings in my ears.

I was ten and in the fifth grade when my ears were first pierced. My mother did it with a sewing needle after deadening each lobe with an ice cube. I had been bugging her and bugging her about getting my ears pierced. I don't know what possessed her to do it herself, but she was my mother, and I was game.

I don't remember it being painful at all. Sometimes, when you're a kid, and you want something so badly, it doesn't matter about pain or hardship as long as it gets you what you want. All the girls in my class were getting their ears pierced, but most of them were going to the doctor to have it done. To this day, I still feel that it was a special thing that my mother did mine for me.

After she put the holes in, she pushed tiny bits of straw through the openings to keep them from healing shut. Every night for about two weeks she would check my ears, clean them with alcohol, and put in clean straws. At the end of the two weeks, she gave me a pair of sterling silver hoops to wear. That was the start of my love affair with earrings.

I had all kinds. I was one of those lucky girls who didn't have metal sensitivities, therefore cheap, but cute was all right by me. The dime store, the mall, boutiques, the man selling earrings at the bowling alley; I was like a junkie. But I didn't share my dope or my posts.

Those girlfriends who went to the doctor to have their ears done, teased me about my mother having done mine. They said I was surely going to set up infection, get keloids, and every other awful thing. Every morning, they would come to class with their little white boxes of earrings resting on cotton, swapping them with each other. My mother, who worked in a hospital, had warned me, "Don't share earrings. It's not healthy when you have pierced ears."

I never said anything to them. A couple of times I was tempted to join in, but I didn't. Aside from what my mother said about it, on a personal level, it didn't seem very sanitary to me. They would take the earrings from their ears and swap them out for another pair out of another set of ears. There would be no alcohol or other sanitary measures taken in between.

It wasn't long before several little lobes became infected. A couple of girls developed keloids, large unsightly growths of excess skin that almost look like oddly shaped earring themselves. In the whole time that I've had them, I haven't had a moment's problem with my mother's handiwork. I think it was because she did mine with her loving hands that they never gave me any trouble.

I got the second holes a couple of years ago. I had been wanting to do that for a while so that I could get a set of diamond studs to wear with the different pairs of hanging earrings I wore in the original holes. This time, I got them done at the mall, and it hurt like Hell. But, after the first week or so, I got over it. Like the first piercing, I took care of my ears until they healed, and didn't have any problems.

I cannot go out of the house without earrings. I can be fully dressed, sharp as a tack from head to foot, but if I don't have my earrings in, the rest was all for naught.

I have been known to turn around and go back home for a pair of earrings. I once got to work, realized that I didn't have on earrings, and phoned home to get my husband to bring me a pair. I had to whine long and hard and make lurid promises I had no intention of keeping to get him to do it. (It was his day off.)He fussed and cussed, but by that time we had been married long enough for him to know me and how important that was to me.

He arrived with several pairs in a zip lock bag, hissing, "Here, dammit. And put the rest of them in your desk drawer for emergency. I am not doing this ever again!"

That started a practice among my colleagues burdended with the same earring thing that plagues me. We all began to keep "emergency earrings" along with the other personal items we stockpiled for times when we might find ourselves caught short.

Walking around with naked lobes is out. At least it is for me. My mother went to a lot of trouble to put these holes in my ears. The least I can do is keep them filled with something pretty.
January 16, 2006 at 6:56pm
January 16, 2006 at 6:56pm


Let me start off by saying that I am not a particulary religious person. That is not to say that I don't have my own personal belief system despite the fact that I have come to see churches as glorified social clubs and and organized religion as political, social, and/or cultural agendas disguised as religion. But again, that's just my personal opinion, a thing to which whether you agree with me or not, I am entitled.

With that out of the way, I feel compelled to address this latest trend of blaming God for things that happen here on earth.

Now I wasn't a scholar in school by any stretch of the imagination, at least not as far it is reflected in the grades I earned, but I do remember my Bible. I attended Catholic school until the eighth grade, and if you know anything about Catholic school, students there get fed a healthy dosage of the Bible on a daily basis. At least they did in my day. After that, on my own, I studied the Bible, more for what it contained than for purely religious reasons.

One of the things that I clearly remember from those Catholic school lessons is that God promised man that he would never punish mankind on earth again. Man, God said, would recieve punishment or salvation, on an individual basis, after death. I remember that because I can recall sitting in my desk and breathing a sigh of relief that we didn't have to worry about the world flooding, killing everybody else with only one family (which with my luck probably wasn't going to be mine) being able to build an ark and save themselves (and the animals).

I remember being relieved that I didn't have to be concerned about having locusts descend upon us, and things like that because we made God mad. Even though I was a kid, I knew we did things that didn't please God, but I was happy that he wasn't going to punish all of us for the acts of some of us. After all, the stuff I did wasn't SO bad- at least not bad enough to get after everybody for it.

Am I the only one who's noticed these "leaders" getting into this line of thinking and saying it out loud to people? It's as if they've run out of things to say to get attention, so in desperation, they pull out the holy card.

Now, I'm assuming that Pat Robertson went to Theology school. Didn't they teach him that God doesn't punish man on earth? Or was he absent on that day? To me, for him to say that out loud eats away at his theological credibility. After all, he's supposed to know and believe in his Bible and its teachings.

The mayor of New Orleans, even though in reading the above article, there was a lot upon which I agreed with him, I felt, should have left God out of it. God is not punishing New Orleans. What happened to New Orleans and to the Gulf area, although it may seem like it was; was not an act of God. It was an act of nature and a failure of mankind. Maybe, in a roundabout way, the seemingly endless series of hurricanes this past year was the result of the disregard we have for nature and the earth's ecology, but it was definitely nature. And man built those levees that failed in the Gulf region, not God.

God said that he wouldn't do something like that to punish us on earth again, and I, for one, believe him.

I think we need to stop blaming God, anybody, or anything other than mankind in general for our problems. We need to look to ourselves for the reasons why bad things happen, fix what's wrong and help ourselves to get past them. Then we need to act in ways that make sure that those bad things have less of a chance of happening again.
January 15, 2006 at 11:54pm
January 15, 2006 at 11:54pm
Today was quiet and slow.

It was cool out, but not as cold or anywhere near as windy as it was yesterday. We were practically blowing like wet wash on a clothesline as we made our way through the Sam's Club parking lot.

The winters here in Georgia are fairly mild in comparison to the winters in my native Michigan. Aside from the absence of extreme cold and snow, I also enjoy the fact that it stays somewhat green here in winter. Like the rest of the year here, we also get a lot of sun in winter. That does a lot of good for my disposition. Georgia is pretty country. I wish so much of the undeveloped land wasn't being forfeited to build so many cookie cutter housing developments.

The farthest I went today was Walmart. That is also the farthest I've thought. I spent the day writing, mostly editing. I did stop to cook dinner. Later, my husband and I, while looking for some pictures that we took in Savannah last year for his sister, took a trip down memory lane. It was so much fun going through photographs of our sons, ourselves, and our families, seeing how much we've changed and visiting with those who have since passed on. It's nice that we have the technology to capture some of the chunks of time that silently slip away from us.

Well, I don't have anything much to say about anything tonight, so I guess I'll sign off here.
January 14, 2006 at 5:43pm
January 14, 2006 at 5:43pm
Yesterday, a fifteen year old, eighth grade boy went to school never to come home again. He foolishly took a pellet gun, which looked very much like a real gun, to school with him. Once at school and the gun was discovered and reported, he had some sort of breakdown. He took another student hostage in what seemed like a fit of desperation, and then when he realized that the situation had gotten bigger than he could handle, he started a series of events that resulting in the ending of his life, and in many ways has affected all of us.

As a parent of sons and a middle school teacher, currently teaching eighth grade, the story was particulary poignant for me. I have read several different accounts of what happened in order to get a better feel for the actual series of events. I have also read the message boards on both AOL and Yahoo to see in which direction public opinion on the subject was leaning.

Everyone seems to want to lay blame somewhere. Some want to blame the SWAT team for overreacting, his parents, teachers, and school counselors for not noticing warning signs, his friends for not reporting his repeated threats of committing suicide, society in general, and of course the boy for bringing the gun in the first place.

It's a very sad story.

I feel for the pain that child had to have been in to voice that he wanted to take his own life. I thought, though, that he was seeking help more so than seeking death. If he wanted to kill himself, he would have found a way to do it that didn't involve the kids in his classes or his teachers. He wouldn't have talked so much about it to his peers; he would have just gone ahead and done it if that was what he wanted to do.

Some people on the message boards suggested that he committed suicide by SWAT, but I feel that what happened was more a last ditch desperation play than seeking a way out.

I feel badly for the policeman who had to shoot him, but there have been so many recent gun-related ugly situations in schools. At the point that the shooting happened, I don't think SWAT had a choice. It's horrible to think of it in terms of losing one child to save the others, but that is what it boiled down to yesterday.

Nobody knew at the time that the gun the boy had wasn't real. The colors on the barrel that would have identified it as a toy had been blackened in. The boy had threatened another student by holding the gun to his neck. He'd forced that child, at gunpoint, into a closet. Then he went running all over the campus with the gun. The school was put on lockdown. Nobody knew what his intentions were, and he was clearly acting in an unstable manner. When caqught up to and cornered, instead of surrendering and allowing help to get to him, reportedly, he pointed the gun at the policemen. I don't see how things could have turned out any differently.

No parent gets a child up in the morning for school with the thought that another child is going to show up with a gun and threaten the life of their child. No teacher gets up, gets ready for work, and shows up for the job with the thought that a student is going to bring a gun and he or she might lose her life at the hands of said student. No administrator signs on for the job thinking that he or she might one day have to put the school on lockdown while SWAT chases down an erratic student with a gun.

No parent gives birth to a child thinking that one day it might be like it had to have been for the parents of that boy yesterday. I feel so badly for them. It is so horrible for them on so many levels.

It seems to me that a great many kids today lack coping skills. I think a lot of it has to do with the excuses we make for kids. If a kid goes bad, we blame the parents. If a kid flunks a class or falls behind, we blame the teachers and the schools. If a kid falls in with the wrong group, we blame peer pressure. If a kid is overly active, we medicate them rather than train them to control themselves or teach them that certain situations call for certain behaviors. It's no wonder to me that when faced with adversity, rather than find ways to deal with it or to rise to the occasion, a great many children lash out in violence or shut down completely.

I don't know what the reasons were for this unfortunate tragedy. I just know that every time things like this happen, it makes us all that much more paranoid and insecure. Schools should be safe havens, but increasingly we are being forced to face that fact that no place is completely safe.



January 14, 2006 at 12:06am
January 14, 2006 at 12:06am

{c}Woman Dead Since 2003 Left Sitting at TV

This is another case of "I wasn't going to go there, but I just have to." I find that I simply cannot hold it in any longer.

It seems that one Ms. Johannes Pope told her caretaker that she didn't want to be buried when she died because she planned on coming back. Surely enough, when she died, her wishes were honored, and she remained upstairs in the house, where it is assumed she expired, for the next two years.

Some reports that I have read of the incident stated that her corpse was found seated in an easy chair in front of the television. The link above does mention the TV in its title, however, the article itself does not go into that kind of detail.

It does say, however, that Ms. Pope's daughter and granddaughter also lived in the house during the two years after Ms. Pope died and her decomposing body was sitting in state up on the second floor.

Now, the article says that an air conditioner ran continually, and that caused the body to slowly mummify, which, I guess kept the smell down. It wasn't until said air conditioner stopped working that the presence of the late Ms. Pope became known. The death stench started wafting down the stairs and out of the house, drawing the attention of neighbors and, I would assume, visitors to the home. A relative finally summoned the police to say that she hadn't seen Ms. Pope in years. The police went out the house where they found the remains on the second floor behind a staircase which was hidden behind a basket and a closed door. Ms. Pope apparently hadn't made it back yet.

Which leads me to my point. What were the people who lived in the house thinking? How could they stay in that house knowing that a body was rotting over their heads? Air conditioner or no, I have to think that they smelled a little something untoward. The scent of rotting small roadkill is enough to make you puke. I cannot begin to imagine what the smell of a decomposing human must be like.

And what about the idea of the body being up there, period? That would give me the willies on its own. I'm kind of scary when it comes to things like that. Then Ms. Pope said that she was planning on coming back. She might have had that plan, but if it was me with whom she had been sharing it, she would have been coming back somewhere other than up on the second floor of the house in which I was still residing. I would be having a hard enough time with the idea that she died up there. Let's not even talk about the basket case I would be if I knew that the body was still up there for the next two years. She might have stayed, but I definitely, without a doubt would have moved on.

Is it just me, or does it seem like the world is getting more and more strange?

January 12, 2006 at 10:47pm
January 12, 2006 at 10:47pm
(I don't go anywhere without a journal.)

... I truly wish she wouldn't read to us at every staff meeting. Just go ahead and get on with that for which you called us in here. There is so much else I need to be doing while I sit here pretending to listen to you read to me. Email it to me. Tell me where I can buy the book so that I can read it for myself, if and when I want to or choose to....

Maybe I should actually read this Fish book she keeps talking about. Maybe it could help me with my writing....

I am so bored and unmotivated right now. It's as if we're here because somebody needs to justify their having the position they have, and the rest of us are pawns in the justification....

She says, "Um", a lot....

This, I swear, is Jonestown without the Kool-Aid....

It's always so cold in this room. I'm freezing.... I think Joanne is asleep, and she's right up front. How can she sleep in here as cold as it is????

It takes a certain kind of nerve to get in front of a group of people and talk to them about something about which you know they don't give a rat's ass....

I like her bracelet. At least she wears attractive silver jewelry upon which I can occasionally focus my attention and make it look like I'm focused on her....

Her shoes, her figure, the condition of her feet in those mules; she's very well-groomed. Makes me wonder how much kids focus on me when I'm up in front of them talking of things about which they aren't particulary interested. Kids notice so much more than adults. I've been smack in the middle of showing a kid something only to have the child tell me she likes my nails, or to have a boy finger my wedding ring and tell me how much he admires my bling....

She is talking way too much. It's so cold, and I feel like I may fall asleep myself at this point. The information she's given us isn't all useless, in fact some of it has been interesting, but I have to pee and it's boring sitting here in the cold, trying to act like we're listening....

People are passing notes and smirking, so I know it's not just me....

It's almost time for the bell.... I'm going to the restroom, and I'm not coming back.

January 11, 2006 at 10:22pm
January 11, 2006 at 10:22pm
I got three hours sleep last night, and I'm dog-tired. I promised myself that I wouldn't miss any more days, so I'm keeping to my comittment. I'm writing to say that I am too tired to write tonight.

Now I'm going to bed. Good night.

January 10, 2006 at 8:49pm
January 10, 2006 at 8:49pm
Today I made a bad decision. I wore a pair of shoes to work that I haven't worn for a while. I had taken out two pair of shoes as 'possibles' for the outfit I had selected. Instead of going with the tan low cut cowboy style shoes, a pair of old reliables, I instead opted for the more stylish brown pair. They were uncomfortable when I put them on, and I was immediately reminded of why I hadn't worn, but they looked so good with what I had on.

They are also boot cut shoes, which I love, and they are attractive. But they are the kind of shoes that one doesn't wear to stand up in for any extended amount of time, much less to walk in for any distance. When I put those shoes on, I need to be going to the car, and from there to where I am going to sit down and not move again until it's time to get back into the car where I come home, take them off, and put them back in the box from whence they came.

I taught in those shoes all day today. Due to an oversight on my part, I didn't have the usual stand-by pair that I keep for such occasions.( (I slipped those on in another crisis situation, wore them home, and forgot to bring them back.)

Before first period, my feet where whispering up to me that they thought there was a problem. By noon, they were screaming SOS! By the end of the day, I was nearly crippled. My feet hurt so badly that I barely made it to the car.

I got home, and the dog met me with her urgent need to go out. I had to stand around, shifting from foot to burning foot while she was on her quest for the ideal spot to do what she had to do. She had no idea how close she came. If she had sniffed two seconds longer....

When I got into the house, the first thing I did was kick off those shoes. I would have done it in the car on the way home, but they were so tight that I could feel that at least two of the toes on my left foot had come through the knee-highs I had on. It was just bad all the way around.

Now a bath, a lotion massage, and nearly three hours later, my feet still hurt under these covers.

While I was in the tub earlier, I was thinking how it's only we girls who put ourselves through stuff like this for the sake of being cute. Guys don't. If a pair of shoes don't feel right, a guy will leave them at the store. If he doesn't, and he does decide to take a chance on "breaking them in", the shoes had better get right on the first or second wear. If not, they will not be worn again.

I am reminded of the time my husband and I took a trip to Toronto so that he could buy a pair of cowboy boots from a store he'd heard of there. He had been salivating over those boots for months, and as soon as we got to the hotel, he was off to that store.

A short time later, he was back, proudly bearing his boots. I had to give it to him; they were beautiful. They were burnished tan with a lot of intricate workings and a good heel. He put them on, and off we went. Not long after we got out to look around, he mentioned that the boots were a bit tight on his feet, but that the salesman had said that they might need to stretch to the shape of his foot. I suggested he take them back for a professional stretching, but he thought they would be all right in time. He said he would try to stick it out.

By the time we got back to the hotel, the man was almost crawling on his hands and knees. The boots he had so longed for had turned on him and had him crying for mercy. While he sat and braced himself, I had to pull the boots from his feet, which immediately swelled with the return of his circulation. I told him to take the boots back, which any woman would have, considering how much he paid for them, but he declined. He said it would be "Okay".

To my knowledge, he never put those boots back on his feet again. A couple of years later, when I was gathering items to donate to the local thrift center, he placed the box with those nearly-new boots on the pile of things to go. I didn't say a word, and neither did he.

I put MY shoes back in the box and returned it to the closet. Even though they almost killed me today, those shoes are still some good. I mean I can still get them on my feet. Why donate something I can still wear?

And who knows, I may have another cute outfit and be going somewhere that I won't have to do that much walking or standing up....

It's a girl thing.
January 9, 2006 at 5:50pm
January 9, 2006 at 5:50pm
Today was the first day back to school here, but only for the teachers. It was what is called a Teacher Work Day. It should be renamed "Staff Meeting Day" because that is mostly what we do on these days without kids. We don't get a lot of time to do what we really need to do: work in our rooms, prepare our lessons, and get ready for our students. But that's not what's on my mind.

In one of the two staff meetings I attended today, the subject of assigning academic grades came up. It's time for second report cards, and the principal was speaking to us about her philosophy for assigning academic grades. Now, she and I as educators don't often share the same points of view on many things. But on the topic of grading, as much as I may not have wanted to for more personal reasons, I had to agree with her today.

She feels that a teacher should not rely on the numbers alone when issuing a student a grade. Her talk with us this morning was about the big picture. Did the kid show mastery of the concept? Does the child demonstrate that he or she knows the material?

She was saying that is the real question a teacher needs to consider when issuing grades. The grade a kid gets should not just be the result of an equation or the accumulation of assigned points; it should also be reflective of the answer to that very important question: can the child show mastery of the concept?

As a parent of three boys, each of whom is an individual unto himself, and as a veteran educator, I have been forced to approach this topic from several different perspectives.

As a teacher, I will not fail student who has done the work but struggled, or who has given it a good shot but come up short. I also will not fail a kid who even though he or she has, at best, a spotty homework/classwork record, but has aced the tests and quizzes. In both aforementioned cases, the student certainly won't get the highest grades, but he or she will not fail my class.

A student who pays attention, asks questions, and tries will get something out of the lessons, even if it's just a snippet of what was presented. Because he or she has made an attempt at learning, has done the practice, and has shown some understanding- even if it isn't on or near mastery level; I don't consider that failing.

By that same token, a student who rarely does classwork, never does homework, but can pull 80's, 90's, and 100's on the tests, also will not fail my class. It may make me angry and frustrated that the kid hasn't done the work, but the bottom line is maybe she didn't have to.

Some will argue that not doing homework and not doing classwork should fail a student because that's how it is in real life. In the world of work, you may be very intelligent, but if you don't do the job you're assigned, you'll bet fired from the job. That it true. But we're talking academics here, not the world of work. The objective of school and classes is to impart academic knowledge. If the child can show that he or she has gained and can work with that knowledge, then he or she has achieved the objective. Surely, the student should be graded down for the other areas which were lacking, but I don't think a failing grade is fair.

My youngest son, one of the two who tested off the paper on standardized tests, had a Kryptonotic aversion to homework. He began reading at age four, and by the third grade tests showed his comprehension near the ninth grade level. Because he often "forgot" to do his homework and had difficulty finishing his classwork, despite his high test grades and active participation in the class, he earned a grade of F. When I went to see his teacher about the grade, and to see how the grade was calculated, it was clear that he was mostly failing for not doing his homework. I asked if he was being graded for his progress in Reading or for doing his homework. To my surprise, the teacher looked a bit stunned to see that flunking him for not doing his homework was what she had done.

By high school, this had become my son's pattern, and I had long since quit going to bat for him over it. If you know what is expected of you, then dammit, you ought to do SOME of it. But my child obviously felt that the labs and classwork were for someone other than him. For him, doing homework was like swallowing cyanide. But his test and quiz grades in these classes were always in the 90's to 100. Because of the labs and homework, or I should say, lack thereof, he received F's.

I didn't fight for him, even though I wanted to. I knew my child, I knew what his patterns were, and I felt that he needed to suffer the consequences of his poor choices, which were repeating the class if he wanted to graduate on time. He should have done the work, but in his case, did he have to? If the bottom line is learning the material, do all kids really need the drill and practice that is assigned?

Life is not just about passing tests; it is about going the distance. But are you a complete failure because you don't?

I believe that F's are for those students who sit and do nothing. To me, fail means that you failed to attempt, and you failed to demonstrate that you understand the concept at all.

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