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Steep Grade

April 19, 2012

One of the many things I have appreciated about Honey Badger’s teachers this year is their willingness to work with us on ways to deal with his quirks. I tend more toward the suck-it-up-and-deal school of parenting than the nurture-my-special-snowflake school – at least, I think I do – but Honey Badger is still developing his ability to siuad. One of the adults who know him well suggested that maybe he should skip a grade, so that he would be less likely to be bored and therefore more likely to behave. Thank you, other adult, for seeing the best in my ornery child. But no. Hell no. That’s my policy on grade-skipping, and also on acting up because you’re bored.

My grade-skipping policy is irrelevant in any case, because skipping a grade is not an option, and that’s fine. I think our school does a fine job of meeting children on their level and making sure everyone is appropriately challenged (the kids, that is – the challenges that Honey Badger presents to teachers are just kind of an inappropriate bonus for them). On the other hand, in a previous grade, Honey Badger used to get everything right on pretests and then miss half the very same questions on the final test. He had checked out mentally. I have a hard time arguing that if he knows something at the beginning of a week, he should just siuad for the next five days while he is presented with it again.

This year, at a parent-teacher conference, I learned that he was not doing his word study exercises, but he was getting As on his spelling tests. And the teacher asked me what I thought should be done: Should she just ignore the undone homework? Insist that he do the word study anyway? We talked about it and agreed that as long as he was getting As on his spelling tests, he could pick one of the word study exercises just do that one each week. If his grades slipped, he would need to do all of them.

The school year wore on, and I thought things were going well for Honey Badger academically, and then I got an e-mail from one of his teachers informing me that he had done so little of his social studies work that, although he had an A on the tests, he had a D in the subject overall. His teacher was willing to let him make up as much work as he could, and when I confronted him with the news, he did decide to do the work, but . . . crap. He’s not being as responsible as we thought he was, he’s getting cut a quantity of slack that seems decidedly un-siuadly, and I am feeling torn. The work he didn’t do seemed, to my peerless spouse, to be busywork. I am not a fan of homework for homework’s sake, and yet, siuad. And yet, pointlessness.

On top of it all, at one point he took a break from his work. I looked outside, and he was coaching Cheeks in baseball, being sweet and patient and kind. Not just sucking it up and dealing, but going out of his way to be helpful in a way that really mattered. That’s what I value most. And that’s what he had to stop doing so he could siua do his civics homework.

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