Saturday, March 8, 2014

SLICE #8- A hard conversation

Son #1 tells me he will probably have to take Algebra I again this summer
It will be the fourth time.
And he still has not passed it.

I hear the discouragement, the flatness in his voice.
"I talked to the professor," he said.
"And I'm still gonna try to pass it this spring,
but I have to get 100% on all of the rest of the tests."
I doubt that he has even passed a math test this semester
Let alone aced one.

"The teacher said I can stay," he says.
"I can try to pass."
"But then he will let me withdraw at the very end
if I'm not passing."

I suggest to my oldest that possibly he should
visit the student services center
see if they have someone who can help. 
He says that has tried
and all they do is put him on a computer
he doesn't understand math from a computer
any better than he understands math from a teacher. 

"Maybe I will do better this summer.
When I only have one class" he tells me.
"I did better last summer in that writing class."

We talk a little longer.
Discuss the possibility of a tutor. 
Zay thinks his running back coach,
a high school math teacher,
might be willing to help him.
I tell him to ask.
Tell him I will pay.

And then it is time to hang up.
I try to build him up.
Encourage him.
Tell him I am proud of him
for sticking it out
when it's been so, so hard.

I hang up
and I am filled with doubts.
School, and especially math,
 is sooo hard for him.
I don't know if he will ever
be able to pass Algebra.
He did it in high school,
but only because one of the coaches
worked with him
day after day after day.

I wonder whether the college thing is really right for Zay.
He's much happier working with his hands.
I wonder if some kind of trade school might be better.
But he really, really wants to play football.
That has been his dream
since he was a little boy.
Football is his happy place.
His place where he is strong and sure
and confident.

I do not want to be the one to pop that dream bubble.
But I also don't know
if there's a time
when I should say,
"Enough is enough"
And  ask him to consider
other possibilities.


Unknown said...

A very hard conversation and a brave post. Good luck and great job of thinking of what matters to him and being understanding if that. I liked how your post was organized like a poem, different stanzas for different thoughts, but it was conversational.

Linda B said...

Well, the first thing is I'm sorry you and your son are hurting, that can't feel good. I wish I had a magic button that would say not everyone needs Algebra in their lives, basic math for doing the checkbook, yes, but Algebra, no. I hope he can find a tutor to help.

Waggoner's Whims said...

I'm not a parent, but I can imagine how difficult this must be. I think you are right to allow him to go forward even if his dreams are unlikely. Encourage him to have a backup plan, but let him come to his own realizations about the reality of his desires. Every experience he has will be useful at some point in his life.

Unknown said...

Wow, truly a difficult conversation and I am sure a difficult post to write. I don't have any advice but I am sure your son is glad to know that he can talk through these things with you and that you support his decisions. So much of life is about, trying, failing, trying, succeeding, and trying something new again. Wash, rinse, repeat. In this process we find the things we love and excel with. I hope he finds exactly what he loves and that it includes footbal!

Michelle said...

The good news is he still has options and he seems like he still believes he can pass it. Sometimes that is more than half the battle! Believing in himself, even through the struggles. I think Jennifer shared some great advice. Good luck to you, Mom and Zay!

Chris said...

Hoping Zay can keep working hard and pass the dreaded Algebra class! I think he's got some great ideas, and I hope he finds success, no matter where he lands.

Tabatha said...

It sounds like he knows ways that are not his best way to learn. Does he know ways that work better? Like, does he learn better one on one? From a young person, from a man, from a woman? The National Honor Society asks all of its members to tutor people (for free) -- my daughter did it, and sometimes young men are particularly attentive listeners when young women are tutoring them. ;-)