Friday, October 26, 2012

Teenage Angst and Parental Distress


There is nothing wrong with today's teenager that twenty years won't cure.  ~Author Unknown

The tension between my lovely bride, Dragonwife, and my son, Darth Spoilboy had been building all week since he came home Monday afternoon with what amounted to a bad report card. While his grades are usually very good right from the start of this school year, he has struggled with several of his subjects for varying reasons. Since this is Spoilboy’s junior year in high school both my wife and I have been trying to impress on him that he really needs to buckle down with college approaching. Spoilboy blames the bad grades on two of his teachers. One guy is a Romanian immigrant and the other a rookie who just started his teaching career last August.

I’ve met the Romanian teacher and while I like the guy, a big difference as compared to the long-time locals, I can only understand about two words in ten the man says. His accent is very thick and while I hate to sound like an ugly American, but I am not sure he has a true grip on the English language which might be the cause of the whole issue. Three different parents who have kids in the Romanian’s class as well back up that opinion.

The situation with the rookie teacher is a little more complicated. The powers that be have assigned this guy several easy classes, one of them being high school astronomy which previously had been taught straight from the textbook and other associated prepared material. In other words, it was a course that could have been taught straight from a DVD except for the fact the teacher had absolutely no knowledge on even the most basic items being discussed. For example Spoilboy came home one day exasperated over the fact the teacher had no idea about the discovery of planets outside the solar system. Now add the teacher’s habit of deviating from the preplanned material and you have a recipe for problems.

Before someone gets upset about me picking on teachers that is not what I am doing. Both my wife and I have repeatedly told Spoilboy to suck it up and adapt and that when he gets to college there is a very high probability many of his professors will be either old cantankerous farts upset they have not yet made tenure or egotistical twits who sit at their phones waiting for the Nobel committee to call. We have  also told him frustrating high school teachers and irritating college professors are minor bumps in the road to some of the bosses he will encounter once he enters the work force.

 Teachers today catch it from both ends of the political spectrum. From the right wing, they are both incompetent fools living off the taxpayer and sinister agents of socialism out to indoctrinate American youth. Teachers catch it from the left-wing because they want students instructed in a whole range of things like self-esteem and other touchy feely stuff. In a better world, teachers would get million dollar contracts along the lines of what asinine professional athletes get for chasing a stupid ball. 

Even with our urging, Spoilboy has not shown what we think is the required attention to his schoolwork and instead has chosen to follow his raging hormones and spend more time on his pursuit of girls and high scores on his X-Box. When I came home Wednesday from Darth Wiggles’ horse riding class I could hear the yelling as the garage door closed. After getting Wiggles some soup, I proceeded straight upstairs to both referee and support Dragonwife.

Once upstairs I found out that Spoilboy was swearing he had his American history report done while Dragonwife had looked it over and said it would at best earn a “D”. While my wife has not looked favorably on my writing as a useful pastime, both she and Spoilboy immediately agreed that I would be the judge of his history project.

Right from the start, I found several relatively minor issues with the report that could be easily corrected on the word processor. Of course, this did not make Dragonwife happy, right after I made the pronouncement that the report itself was not that bad the look on her face told me her intention was to reign in our teenage son and force him to study further by rewriting the whole thing.

Darth Spoilboy began whooping in premature triumph until I saw the bibliography, which was an utter mess. Even worse, he had used several sources from Wikipedia, something that I already knew was very unacceptable to his teacher. When I told him he would have to go back and do more research using more trustworthy sources his whooping turned into cussing. My move after that was to ground him for a week and load him up with chores resulting in an extra helping of attitude.

So, in the aftermath of all this Dragonwife is mad at me for not backing her up and Spoilboy is upset that he has to do more research and is grounded for the week. After Spoilboy stormed off, I searched for something to say to break the ice with her. Of course, I chose the wrong thing but I thought it was funny and worth a chance. Watch the video and see if you can figure it out what I said.


Mike Williams said...

Reminded me of a college professor who taught statistics. Also of European descent but likewise unintelligible to modern Americans, somehow we all passed, me with a B but I still don't know what the hell he was talking about. Still I'm pleased that Darth is indeed working hard and every lesson learned now is one that will come in handy later. What i see is good parenting except of course for the Buffett. We are the people our parents warned us about.

Pixel Peeper said...

I remember a few battles over homework with my teenager. After a while, I decided that I had to step back. I was done with school, he was the one who had to fight the battles.

Who said it, "Raising teenagers is easy. Just like nailing Jello to a tree."

On that note, Jello shots sound good.

Windsmoke. said...

I reckon teachers are the meat in the sandwich in some cases and sometimes they just can't win. I see you are definitely in the bad books with Dragon Wife for not backing her up and with Spoil Boy for grounding him so you've come out of this little episode looking like the bad boy or the meat in the sandwich.

Akelamalu said...

I think you were in a 'no win' situation there Beach!

I think you and the other parents, that are thinking the same way, should get together and complain to the school about the two teachers - you can't all be wrong - it's the school's responsibility to make sure pupils get the best teaching and poor teachers should not be used.

Randal Graves said...

I can see why you sometimes hightail it to the beach. Speaking of raging waters, here's hoping DEATH STORM 2012 doesn't rattle its sabre in your hood too much.

lime said...

BWAHAHA!!! (that was to the comment you made)

#1 thank you for recognizing how teachers take crap from all sides. they are more or less expected to make bricks without straw around here. there are deeper and deeper budget cuts from school boards who have so hideously mismanaged the funds the state keeps reducing and jacking up taxpayers are angry, understandably. in the last few years in our county about 300 teachers have lost their jobs. we have not had a corresponding drop in enrollment. so larger classes, fewer teachers, less money, and the teachers are expected to work miracles with kids who have absentee parents. it's demoralizing and yet, most of them go forward doing the best they can.

#2 there are some folks who simply should not be teachers. some of them just have no business attempting to educate any student.

#3 kids are adept at exploiting weaknesses in both teachers and parents. i'm sorry it's happening in your house.

but ya know, i agree with your remedy for conflict. ;)

Mr. Charleston said...

It's one of those important lessons you learn in life... never, let me repeat, NEVER get in the middle of a family feud, even if you are part of the family. As you have learned the hard way, you can't win. But I appreciate a good laugh at your expense.

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

I absolutely hated the teacher I had for Algebra II in my sophomore year of high school, which resulted in me receiving a D- that ruined an otherwise stellar grade point average. I still regret not just going with the flow and getting my expected A, which I was perfectly capable of earning.

By the way, "...teachers would get million dollar contracts along the lines of what asinine professional athletes get for chasing a stupid ball." You were referring to just soccer--right?