The Last Time I saw an F, I was in high school.

img_2035“The last time I saw an F, I was in high school,” I told my son.

“It was only an F for two days,” he replied.

That was true. His science grade had gone up to a D-. Seemed as if for him that was a cause for celebration. Or, at least noteworthy.

“And, there it sits,” I said.

“Should be a D+ soon,” he said hopefully as if that was something for us to look forward to.

At the start of the school year, Juan and Crystel sign a sheet of paper stating that if they drop below a B- they lose their phone privileges. I tack this agreement on the refrigerator where it stays throughout the school year.

Not as much to remind them, I found out, then to remind me and Jody.

ParentVUE is a wonderful tool. I click on it daily to check on my children’s grades. I watched Juan’s drop to a C+ in science but it wasn’t until it went to an F that I woke up.

“Jody, Juan should not be having his phone,” I said to her. We were at the YMCA in the dressing room. I’m not sure why that was the place it struck me.

At 14, the phone is the most important personal item to Juan and Crystel. That makes it the most important motivating tool for me and Jody.

When I was in school what was most important to me was how my hair looked draped over my arms in class while I slept. On my report card, next to the D’s and F’s was has the ability but lacks initiative. Sometimes, Juan and Crystel bring home a note from a class for a parent to sign. It will have the question, how have you helped your child in this subject this week. I write, I threatened to take their phone away if it drops below a B-.

My children are very capable of getting A’s. At times, Juan lacks the initiative.

16387422_10210598873182208_1856781610126200938_n1I’ve told them stories about my middle and high school experience: smoking around the corner outside of school, throwing eggs in the hallway, dead mouse on a teacher’s chair (she went into rehab after that), jumping out of a classroom window, getting an F in typing (who gets an F in typing?), etc….. I quickly remind them that the stories are for entertainment purposes only and that they don’t have the same parents that I did.

Of course, they have learned this, because I’ve followed through many times on joining Juan in his classroom when he was tardy. “Just trying to figure out what the problem is, Juan”.

He hasn’t been tardy yet this year. I keep looking at ParentVue under attendance, waiting for the invite.

Darn. It’s almost like I get to do a do-over when I’m sitting there next to him observing him and his classmates.

Love those kids. They’re attentive, respectful to the teacher. I keep looking for that one kid who has his/her hair draped over their arms sleeping. The one that lacks initiative. The one who is getting F’s, that reminds me of me. One time there was such a girl who came storming late into a classroom. Juan whispered to me, “That’s a bad girl.”

Hmmmm, I thought to myself. Sometimes all you can do is grow up and get out.

At last look, Juan’s grade has moved to a C+, inching ever closer to the required B-.

 

 

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“Is there anything about me in here?”

Crystel

Crystel

“Is there anything about me in here?” Crystel said with a hint of despair in her voice.

“Yes,” I answered. “There’s a sentence. Keep reading.”

She was skimming my recent blog about our 3-legged cat.

“This story is mostly about Antonio,” I added.

“Grrrrrr,” she responded.

I laughed. “Do you want the next blog to be all about you?”

“Yes,” she said emphatically.

Writers often worry about writing about their kids online. Using them for fodder when crafting a story. Much is written about the ethical implications of mothers writing about their kids and the online privacy of children. Mothers don’t want to betray their children.

I’ve had a different experience with Antonio and Crystel, both now thirteen years old. My children want to be seen, noticed, and heard. They want to be important enough to be blog material. They would feel betrayed if I didn’t include them in my writing life.

Crystel helping me with squad maintenance checks.

Crystel helping me with squad maintenance checks.

From time to time, I get squeamish blogging about my children. Not because of what my kids might think but what other writers might. Mothers should protect their children, not exploit them for media attention. Sometimes, I feel tempted to add an aside to blogs and tell the reader that my children have read and approved of the story and photos. I don’t do that. Another voice emerges in my head, a much louder voice. That it’s my business what I write and readers have a choice whether or not to read my material. I won’t be silenced as I was when I was a child.

If the blog is about them, Antonio and Crystel know the contents before I even start drafting the blog.  Before it’s published they’ve read the article and seen the photos. They might ask me to change a line or to take a sentence out or to use a different photo. Most often the blog is published as is with their approval.

There are benefits to having a mother who will blog about you. Last week, Crystel was finishing a class project for her Language Arts class – a 3 panel brochure – that needed to include pictures of herself when she asked, “Do you have any photos of me?”

In the trunk of squad cars there are stuffed animals for children. Crystel is picking one of her monster dolls to add for a give-away.

In the trunk of squad cars there are stuffed animals for children. Crystel is picking one of her monster dolls to add for a give-away.

Antonio answered her, “Just Google yourself. I put a picture of me and my birth mom Rosa on mine.” He looked at me and explained. “That was the most recent picture I could find online.”

Crystel was positively gleeful. “You’re right.”

Crystel’s desire to be a part of my writing life isn’t limited to the WordSisters blog.

She visualizes herself sitting next to me signing copies of House of Fire, my yet to be published manuscript.

House of Fire shows that thirty years of breaking free from a cycle of silence and betrayal was not enough to prepare me for the trials of starting my own healthy family.

Jody and I have worked hard to create a home of love, safety, and joy where no one gets silenced.

Crystel’s been practicing her autograph. I’ll be so proud to have her next to me. Both of us will be seen, noticed, and heard.

Her only complaint about this blog – “It doesn’t have enough pizaaz.”

Well, next time kid.