Tuesday, January 27, 2009

High Expectations

You know, tonight, I went to one of my sons and asked if he had any homework. His response was, "No." I asked if he had studied his spelling? He said, "Yes." So, I asked him to get his words and I would quiz him. It didn't take long before I found out that he really hadn't studied but merely went through the exercise to write the words once as required and no more. He told me that I didn't give him long enough to answer. I told him to write the words three times each. He continued to tell me that I wasn't being fair and so I told him ten times each and asked if he wanted to make it fifteen.

I asked my oldest if he had any homework and he said, "No." I asked him if he had read for 20 minutes. He was like, "Why? When did I have to start reading for 20 minutes daily?" I replied, "When did I tell you, you didn't have too?"

High expectations? Maybe.

The rule for as long as I can remember in my house and when I say my house, I literally mean: My House. The one I pay for the mortgage for every month. The one where I am known as Dad... has been when you get home, before anything else, barring going to the bathroom is doing homework and nothing else until it is done. If you have sports after school and you come home late, then you can eat, but then homework. Granted, I make exceptions for some nights but generally, the above applies.

Homework consists of stuff that is due tomorrow or by the end of the week, say a spelling test. I ask that my boys do there homeowrk in smaller doses. Obviously, my 14 year old may have a math assignment due the next day and that comes first and say the book report due in two weeks, well, if he reads for 20 minutes a day, might actually enjoy the book and finish early without having to read and write it all in one night.

I expect the absolute best out of my boys academically. Neither one of them have a learning disability nor a weakness in any subject matter, at least for right now. Matter of fact they both excel at Math and Science. My oldest actually took the SAT's as a 7th grader as part of the John Hopkins Talent Search for Gifted Students and scored higher then 23% of the seniors that took it that year. He qualified for their enrichment program. Basically, he can take classes in the Math and Science's at his pace online in conjunction with his normal class load. I have not yet pushed this because he also plays three sports: Football, Basketball and Baseball. Not to mention he plays in a jazz band (trombone) and takes guitar lessons once a week. He is for the most part a well rounded kid and I would be wrong to not say that I am not proud of him because I am. I am VERY proud.

His younger brother is also smart. He looks at things in ways that most nine year olds don't. He had an arguemnet with his mother over wearing a coat on a most frigid day as he just wanted to wear a sweatshirt. She was like, "No, um, it's cold out and I say you are going to wear your jacket." He came back with: "Well, people fought and fight for my rights. They developed this thing called the constitution to protect my rights and its my right whether I want to wear a coat or not." Yeah, this can definitely be construed as being a smart ass but I also like to look at as an above average answer and ingenious comeback.

Okay, I don't accept anything less than a B. I use to be all A's. Why? Because I see the potential in my kids to do that high level of work. As a kid, my parents wanted me to do well, but they never made a huge deal as long as I had a B average. So, I coasted through high school, doing whatever it took to get a B average. However, today, I really wished I had paid a lot more attention in school.

Although, a few things made me lift that lofty expectation of all A's. My kids, most notably my oldest was trying so hard to meet that expectation in fear of letting me down, he was driving himself insane and when he took Algebra as a 7th grader, had his work cut out for him especially during football season where it was 6 days a week. Also, I have an extremely intelligent cousin who when as a kid, his father expected nothing less than a A and he talked about how badly he wanted to rebel. Although, I will never know and its really not my place, but I do wonder at times, did that rigid stance allow him to excel as he does today in music among other things. He may not see it as exceling but he can do things that a lot of people just couldn't, period.

I don't want either of my sons to rebel, so I give them a little breathing room. Let me clarify that my oldest takes Trombone and Guitar on his own. I offered to pay for rental and lessons. He accepted. Also, he took the SAT's on his own as well. I told him I thought it was a good idea but if he didn't want to, because it was a 5 hour test on a Saturday, that he didn't have too. As far as the sports, I don't pressure him into playing... okay so maybe I lobbied for baseball, but nothing is a mandate, well, except for homework. Although, if he asks, I will practice with him on the sports until he cannot take it anymore. Just the other day, I took him and his friend to shoot 100 Foul shots and a 100 regular shots. If they hit less then 50%, 5 out of 10, they ran a lap. They both missed 5 only like 3 times. I will help either of my kids on any of their school work, they just have to ask.

My oldest is really hard on himself and part of that I know is me and I do try to tell him over and over, as long as he does his absolute best academically, I can accept that and as well with the sports. If he leaves it all on the floor/field and has fun, then the results don't matter. He should be proud of himself and know that I am proud of him. But why do anything if you're not going to give your all? I won't lie, I do live vicariously through him a little but I often ask my wife to make sure I never cross that line because this is his/their life, not mine.

I just want as many opportunities available to them. I don't want them to never try and maybe miss that opportunity that later down the line never becomes one because they didn't give themselves the chance. I want them to expose themselves to as many things academically and athletically as possible. I believe strongly that during these first 8 years of school, they build a foundation which allows them to start focusing on things they truly like. And maybe they go a whole different route when they are done high school. All I care is that in the end, they are happy but I am going to do everything in my power to make sure they have the skills to pick their own way and succeed in whatever they choose.

High expectations? Maybe. High Hopes? Definitely. Can they ever Fail in my eyes? No. But I don't want them to ever think I failed them but not pushing or nuturing them. And I don't want them to ever think they cannot do something but rather know, if you want something bad enough and try hard enough, I will be there every step of they way to get you to realize your dreams.

No comments: