Making Adjustments Part 2

Brendan.

I don’t even know where to begin with him.  My buddy has always been the sweetest most caring kid I have ever known.  However, since starting middle school he has become the most moody, smart mouthed child I’ve ever known.  I’m not sure if it’s being in middle school that’s changed him or if it’s the pre-teen years, but at the moment he’s definitely a lot harder to get along with than he used to be.

School is the biggest problem.  Not his school specifically, but school in general.  Brendan has always enjoyed going to school.  It wasn’t just for the friends either, he loved learning new things and just being in the classroom.  His love affair with school took a bit of a beating in 4th and 5th grade as he dealt with the bullying issues and his best friends moving to different schools, but overall he still loved being at school and continued to do well in school.

Moving to the alternative middle school was Brendan’s choice.  We supported his choice, but worried slightly about him having no friends at his new school.  Making friends was always a challenge for him, and while he had kids he was friendly with in his last couple years of elementary school he lacked anyone he could really call his best friend.  Now that we are halfway through the school year, those fears have been laid to rest.  Brendan has made quite a few new friends including a best friend that he seems even closer to than the boys he called his best friends in elementary school.

We couldn’t be happier with the friend situation, and Brendan is extremely happy with his choice to move to this school.  Looking back, it may have been better to get away from the kids who had known Brendan during his more awkward years and give him a fresh start.  But while that is going well, the rest of his schooling is not.

No matter how much preparation the elementary school does for the 5th graders to get them ready for middle school, it just isn’t enough.  They increased the amount of homework the 5th graders had by almost double, yet there was still enough time in the school day for the kids to get almost all of the work done.  Now that he’s in middle school there is no time for Brendan to work on his homework during the day.  Each class period is just 42 minutes long and the teachers teach from the beginning of the period to the end.  On top of that the 6th graders get one study hall period each day unless of course they take any music courses.  And with Brendan still in both band and orchestra that means that he gets no study hall period and all of his homework has to be done at home.

Now this shouldn’t be an issue.  Middle school gets out almost an hour before elementary school does, leaving Brendan plenty of time to get his homework done in the evenings.  And despite the fact that we have drilled for years about doing our homework before any other activities after school Brendan has decided this year that he absolutely has no desire to do his homework in the evenings.  That means that at least once a week, if not more, he’s forced to stay after school and complete the work that he is missing.  It also means that the straight A’s that he pulled in elementary school have given way to mostly B’s and C’s.  He’s even had the occasional D and F on his mid-term grades but thankfully hasn’t actually failed any classes.  Yet.

I can totally understand his feelings towards homework and school in general.  Middle school was not my best time either.  But our choices are to keep pushing him to do well, or to sit back and let him fail.  In the long run, we’re sure he will come around and learn to deal with the changes that came with moving on to middle school so we keep pushing.

I knew parenting a teenager would not be easy.  I get along with my parents fabulously now that I am an adult, but it was definitely not smooth sailing when I was a teen.  I fully expected that Cameron and Kaylee would be those emotional, irrational teenagers that every kid turns into.  But for some reason I thought Brendan would be different.  I really thought his sunny, innocent side would override the teenage turmoil.  I was wrong.

No matter.  One way or another we shall weather this storm just as we have all the others.  I can still remember a time when I wondered if I would ever be able to navigate Brendan through a simple change without having to endure a 3 hour temper tantrum.  We made it through those days, and somehow we will make it through these too.  Now if only I could be so confident on the rest of the kids…

 

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