When someone (like Zach) is able to learn things easily (and they get way too much help from mom), they sometimes miss out on learning the crucial skill of trying their hardest to get great results. These people always seem to kick ass without much effort (but with a lot of help from mom), whether it's acing a test, playing a sport, mastering a musical instrument, or someday being able to do a keg stand with straight legs and pointed toes (which, by the way, mom kicks ass at).
When they finally have to face a situation that requires a lot of effort (and they don't get as much help from mom), they often get caught by surprise and don't know how to deal with the frustration. Suddenly, in order to do well, they need to pay attention, work hard, turn assignments in on time and be responsible (all by themselves). This would describe Zach's HP science class, and his rude introduction into having to actually work for his grade.
Zach approached eighth grade thinking it was just another school year. Study a little, get A's, hang out with friends, don't start any food fights, and get along with the teachers. What he wasn't expecting is a science teacher who automatically assumes that all junior high boys are lazy, and wants to be proven wrong.
After a missed assignment and turning another one in late, the kid was not off to a good start. Maybe it was his hormonal imbalances, or that he thought he would look cooler not getting all A's. What he forgot about was that his parents don't have any patience for lazy teenagers, and we definitely don't like to see B's. He has since completed every piece of extra credit he can get his hands on, and is definitely paying attention and participating in class. He is walking that fine line between star student and being a kiss ass, and I don't care.
Yesterday afternoon I talked to him about his grades. "Maybe you should ask your teacher if he would total up your extra credit points to make sure you have a strong A going into the end of the trimester."
"What are you talking about? I'm not going to do that," he snapped. "Asking him would be stupid. He doesn't have time. He'll total it up at the end."
"But if you ask him, he'll get the impression that you are concerned about your grade, and motivated to get an A." I thought I was making perfect sense.
"I'm sure he doesn't want to be bothered. I don't want to talk about it anymore. I'm not going to ask him," and off he went, to practice piano.
Last night, after Doug got home from the office, he and Zach were talking about his science grade.
Doug said "You should see if your teacher will figure out what your grade is with all of the extra credit, because he'll get the impression that you are concerned about your grade, and motivated to get an A."
"Oh. That's a good idea. I'll probably do that tomorrow," replied the boy that looked remarkably like my kid, but obviously wasn't.
I just stood there, stunned. I guess I must have timed my initial conversation with him all wrong, used the wrong tone of voice, and approached the topic from the wrong angle. Oh, and I wasn't his dad, who, by the way, does keg stands with bent legs.