My mom and I have routinely huddled up at the end of each year or the beginning of each new year to discuss what our New Year’s resolutions will be. Some years are better than others in achieving them. Last year, I resolved to stretch more after my exercise routine because I was dealing with some sore hamstrings and hips. I did a decent job of achieving that goal. I also resolved to stop snacking so much at night. I could not put a checkmark of achievement next to that goal….
￼This year, Mario has inadvertently assisted me in crafting my resolutions. Now that he has moved up to the attic, we do not get a glimpse into how much he is studying versus playing on his computer. With Maria, there was never any doubt that when she was down in her basement bedroom, she was studying. She, of course, is an anomaly of a teenager. She wants nothing more than to overly achieve in school – sometimes to the point of it being a stressor and riddling her with anxiety. For her, our goal is to remind her that she also needs to enjoy her life and put some of her focus on play time. We have always known that Mario has a different set of ￼ a ￼goals and ideals than Maria. Mario is more like your typical boy teenager – he wants to have fun in school, get in as many study halls as possible, hang with friends, and goof off. A good day to him does not center around getting 100% on a math test; rather, it centers around￼ getting together with some of his friends and watching a funny video or packing in a car and heading to Chipotle for lunch.
The first quarter of school he came home with all Bs and As. We knew he did not try that hard (he admitted as much) so￼ we told him that for the second quarter, he needed to set a goal for two more As. He agreed that he would do so.
Now, this is where Jon and I dropped the ball. We know Mario – we know that playing a video game with friends will always trump doing homework, even if he knows that that is what he should be doing. It is too hard for him to say no. This is where we as parents need to step in to establish boundaries on video playing time and homework time. We did not do that, but rather assumed that he was able to make those choices on his own based on his desire to do better. ￼All quarter long, he affirmed he was doing what he needed to be doing, and should end up with As and B’s. So, when I went online a week ago and saw his grades for second quarter, I was taken aback. Not only has he fell in the number of As but he even had a couple of C+s.
After sternly talking with him about his grades and my concern that he was not putting effort into school, I sat back to look at my own behavior. We have known that Mario is a different kid than Maria. He is not driven to excel in school. He has enjoyed high school this year because of the freedom it gives him and because he made friends early on with juniors and seniors so he gets shout outs from them throughout the day. Learning is ancillary to the social scene.
It was just so much easier to assume that he was studying up in his room then to take the time each evening to try to review all of his subjects with him. ￼￼The funny thing is that I am constantly looking for ways to do more with him and this was staring down my face. Not exactly a riotous good time for either of us – but time, nonetheless.
I also realized that I needed to have a longer conversation with him about why he put so little effort int￼o his work the second quarter. I have been trying to implement some of the learnings I get from all my podcasts and I had just listened to We Can do Hard Things where Dr. Becky Kennedy spoke about good kids doing bad things and getting deeper into why the kid felt like he needed to take the particular bad action.
I spoke to my mom that evening and told her about Mario’s grades, as well as my New Year’s resolution to take time every night to review his classes. She thought it was a worthy resolution, and one I should have probably implemented a year ago for 2022. Yea, well, better late than never.