It’s the Friday before the holiday break. Normally, I’d be breathing a sigh of relief. No dance for two whole weeks! No getting up early for school! Less driving! Less stress! No homework hassles!
But no…not in this household. Instead, I’ll be managing my delinquent son’s midterm study schedule (and habits…or lack thereof) and his community service schedule (for an English project and for a misdeed he’d rather I not mention). This requires overseeing use of his cellphone (texting) and computer, as well as TV time. It also means overseeing study groups, so they don’t become social time.
I’ll also be working…or trying to work. And I’ll be attempting to play mediator between Julian and his Dad, who really would like to come down hard on him about his grades and schoolwork…or, again, lack thereof.
On that note, after discussing Julian’s desire not to do his homework or study for tests (although he assures me – again – that he is now going to do so) with a therapist friend of mine, I have been encouraged to take my husband’s side and take away dance if need be. Now, I was leaning this way already, and had told Julian that if he kept not turning in assignments and getting zeros, he would, indeed, leave us no choice but to take away dance. (I mean, there’s nothing left to take away…the Ipod, texting, social life, computer and TV time are all gone or have been gone at some point with little effect.) But last night we actually discussed it, and I told Julian that after his big show at the end of January we would implement some sort of consequence structure that involved losing dance for a week or more depending upon the number of missed assignments. I’m not sure if it will be a zero tolerance policy or what.
Julian’s first question was, “Does that mean missing Saturday classes and rehearsals, too?” The reason he’s concerned about this is simple: If he misses rehearsals on Saturdays often enough – more than just one or two times – he risks losing his spot in a piece of choreography. However, if he isn’t there on a weekday or a weekend when they bring in a choreographer and do auditions for a piece, he’ll also not have a chance to get into that piece of choreography. He might also miss out on being in piece of student choreography, which also requires an audition and attendance at rehearsals. So….missing a week here, two weeks there, or a whole month, could mean not getting to perform in the spring show. It also means letting down his fellow company members.
Don’t get me wrong, I hate this consequence. The last thing I want is for Julian to lose dance, but what the heck are we supposed to do? Let him keep dancing while he gets Cs and Ds in school simply because he won’t do the homework and turn it in or take the time to study for a test? He needs to learn to manage his time and to be responsible. Period.
Tough love. It’s as tough on the parents as the kids. I’ve spent quite a bit of time crying over this issue and my son this week, let me tell you. Chalk it up to perimenopausal hormonal swings if you will, but this whole thing is driving me crazy. I’ve got indigestion every day. I eat more Tums than food.
If anyone has a better solution, let me know. My therapist friend assures me that high school freshman are the worst age group to deal with. They don’t deal well with going from the top of the heap (in a three-year middle school) to the bottom of the heap (in a four-year high school). They feel out of control (and try to gain it in inappropriate ways). They are searching for themselves (in all the wrong places). Actually, my daughter also didn’t turn in work or study for tests all through her freshman year in high school, but her grades were Bs and Cs, not Ds bordering on Fs. (To give him some credit, he does have a B in geometry and in drama. He did have a B in science for a while, but I’m sure that’s a C now.)
One another note, and as a follow up to my last post, this same therapist friend told me that most kids know their sexuality by the age of about nine. This other young man who sent Julian into a tailspin about his sexuality last week said he always felt “different,” and that says a lot. It points to the fact that he has always – on some level – known he was gay. Julian, on the other hand, has never felt different in that way. He’s been different in that he wasn’t accepted, but he has been just like the other boys wanting to do “boy things” like play sports, skateboard, play with swords and guns, etc. And he liked girls and still does. Now, this could, as I said before, change. And he might dabble and experiment. And I could turn out to be wrong, and so could he, about his sexuality. That’s, however, what my friend had to say, so I thought I’d pass that footnote along to all those parents wondering about their own son’s sexual preferences.
By the way, I started a discussion thread in the new My Son Can Dance Support Group or “chat room.” It involves male dancers and being teased about sexuality. Check it out at the bottom of this blog under the links. Sign in and start chatting! Or follow this link: My Son Can Dance Support Group.
For those of you who are Jewish, like me, Happy Chanukah! And don’t forget to buy your son’s some T-shirts. Check out My Brother Can Dance T-shirts and Dance Wear. If you order right away, you might even still get your shirts by Christmas. You can get all three shirts (or just 1 or 2) for an Express Shipping fee of under $9!