How Do You Answer These Questions

I had yet another downer of an ending post drafted before I deleted it all. Instead I put to you these questions I had last night from Doodicus:

"I hate school. Why do I have to go?"

"What difference does it make if I get Fs and Ds instead of As and Bs?"

Please, don’t respond with "So you can go to a good college and get a great job!" because if we’re already struggling beyond words to get him through the fifth grade, you can bet the farm he has absolutely no desire at this point and time to look forward to another four years of higher education if we’re even able to get through these next seven. "A great college…" is no incentive here.

Also? The flute lessons are absolutely off the table, but you may have already figured that out.

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13 thoughts on “How Do You Answer These Questions”

  1. Well in all honesty, if he’s getting Ds and Fs, at some point they will make him repeat the classes or possibly a whole grade; at the very least, summer school. If he already doesn’t like school, he certainly wouldn’t want to do it again. Can you spin that in a way he’d get?

  2. Have you tried asking him what would happen to him if he failed out of school? I had a similar conversation with my son and was able to paint a picture of what his life would be like. But the “what do you think would happen?” questions might help him realize what life would be like. Would it be possible for him to have a day doing a menial job so he could see what working without education is like? He seems to be a kid who needs to try and experience on his own.

  3. Oh DD, I think part of being a parent is the feeling of helplessness. It’s only magnified when you have a child who doesn’t quite get consequences or understand them. Is there any type of incentive? maybe the incentive of playing the flute next year if he gets good enough grades this year? I am by no means an expert or even an internet expert on what doodicus has, so my comments are probably way off. Just know that we are here to listen and give assvice whenever asked.

  4. I like A’s comment. That’s probably what I’d go with, too. Except I’d play up how much harder it’ll be on him in the D and F scenario. But I can be an asshole, too.

    I’m curious, what does his doctor/therapist have to say about this? Are you all still seeing him?

    1. Yes, we are still seeing the psychologist, about 1 every four weeks. He’s been very instrumental getting us this far without anyone running away (raising hand), but when you’re in the heat of a moment and the Dr is 100 miles away, I feel as powerless as I had before we ever had a single appointment.

  5. I’m pragmatic and not especially nice, so I’d got with this:

    At some point, you are going to have to make your own way in the world. Dad and I will not be taking care of you when you are perfectly capable of taking care of yourself. We all like nice things and comfortable lifestyles, and unfortunately, getting those things requires hard work. So, you can do the hard work now, and get good grades in school, and when you’re done with school, you will have all the options in the world to do anything that makes you happy and provides you with a nice lifestyle. Or you can get your Ds and Fs and have to work hard for the whole of your life because you have fewer options available to you.

    I know – that’s meaningless to a young boy. So, you can also try peer pressure or disappointment or pride. But kids really think that adults have a very easy life, so maybe you could show him some examples of all the things he’s going to have to take care of when he eventually gets to be an adult…and how some of those things are related to things he’s learning now.

    1. He’s never shown a real interest in something that I could use as “The More You Know” *insert rainbow* type of moments. His best friend has all these things he wants (phone, gets to stay home by himself, computer), but even using him as a good example hasn’t had any affect.

  6. 1. “It’s the law. Sorry. I know you don’t like it, but you’re required to go and I’m required to make you.”

    2. Could you still work with “better job,” even if he’s not thinking college? His school grades will still make a difference in his future pay/life—and it’s not just the grades, of course, but what they represent: failing to master basic school skills will mean he’s not equipped to work at a good job even if the employer overlooked his grades and hired him.

    I’d also try: “Because if you get bad grades, it’ll mean more hassle for you: people ranting and raving at you all the time and trying to force you to do things and trying to explain to you all the boring things about your future, and wanting to TALLLK about it all the time. Get good enough grades, and everyone leaves you alone.”

    At a younger age, I found the 20%/80% thing motivating—the idea that with 20% effort you can usually get 80% results. My professor meant to encourage us to put in the other 80% effort to get the final 20% results (from a B to an A), but instead I thought “Screw that! 80% is good enough for me, and then I have 80% effort for other things!”

    1. Since appealing to his sense of fairness does not work with him (it’s the right thing to do), we have also resorted to the “it’s the law”. I fear this is something we’ll have to prove when he’s older. Mark my words.

      And this reminds me of the whole trying-to-reason-with-the-unreasonable post I had a couple weeks ago. “It’s the law and I’m sorry you don’t like it. Now get ready for school.” He’s really not looking for an answer to the why, is he. Also, he loathes TALKING or The Talk, so I like your second suggestion.

      As soon as he’s old enough, I think he’ll have to get a job, then we’ll see how things go when he tells his boss, “I don’t want to clean the toilets.”

    1. While he loves computer games, he only wants to do the “research” part of any R&D. As for using games as an incentive, even that has not been enough to keep him from dragging his feet when it comes to his homework. He will fight tooth and nail all evening, leaving us time to eat supper and MAYBE get him to take a bath.

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