Or: What I'd like to say but can't really say (although I can't figure out just why I am not supposed to)
I remember now why we chose to homeschool last year. It was a frustrating experience, one we doubted pretty much the whole way through, but at least we knew what was going on. We knew what our son was facing, where he was struggling, what he was missing. We could tailor the week to his needs (and ours). We could tightly control our expectations because - after all - we set the bar he was required to meet.
Eighth grade for my dear boy - well, it's been hard this last week or so. Progress reports came out. If you sit and think you'll realize that those two statements aren't random, they're very related. I've seen my boy cry these last two nights, glittering tears that cling to impossibly long lashes. He is crushed, you see. Crushed by the pressure of keeping up, crushed by falling behind. He is barely treading water in some classes, even though he should be safely on the shore.
I wish you would give him a break. I know there are a lot of kids to tend to, and you have to have rules. But, the kid is struggling and all he needs is a floaty donut. All he needs is a little time, a little care, a little push. I don't see how accepting late work - with a penalty - will hurt. I don't think a phone call or email when he's missing (many) assignments and failing tests is too much to ask. I can't imagine a little head's up warning would be a big deal. In fact, it could make all the difference.
Tonight, looking online at the snazzy grade tracker, my son said he felt stupid.
My boy is anything but stupid. He's funny (a bit goofy, really), he's imaginative, he's mild, he's kind, he's sweet, he's smart, he's a sponge full of historical information, he's weird (who isn't), he's silly, he's compassionate, he's sympathetic, he's amazing. I know I'm biased, but I also know my kid.
I wish I could impart to you the great love required to take an interest. I wish that, while you're busy, you might take just one more moment to look into his eyes. Do you see joy, or pride, or satisfaction? Or, like me, do you see pain and doubt and fear?
These last couple of days have not been my best. I'm not proud of the mother I become when my voice gets so loud, my eyes get so wide, my heart begins to pound. I yell too much, I say things I don't mean, I make things worse. I hurt him more, I hurt me too.
We need a break. Or maybe a break-through. Either way, half of this is up to you. Because this year, we're not homeschooling.
And it sure feels like we're swimming in an ocean full of sharks.