Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Teenage Boys: Part 2

Did I say that teenage boys are a thing of beauty? Well, they are also a source of immense frustration. My older son is brilliant, truly. In the third grade, he tested into the Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program. I was so proud of him. I also privately thought that this would mean that he would sail through school and perhaps find it too easy. I worried how we would keep the challenges of school equal to his vast intellectual abilities. Throughout most of his elementary school years, this was the case. And then, he became a teenager.
Our first indication that the tide was turning happened when he was in the 7th grade. He had always excelled in math and I was surprised to see his grade slipping in his algebra class. I consulted his teacher who informed me that he had not turned in several assignments. I was stunned. Where did he get off thinking that he could pick and choose which assignments he completed and if he submitted them? I confronted him, committed to nipping this problem in the bud. Thinking of my daughter, who has always been extremely conscientious about her schoolwork, I expected him to be contrite and disappointed with himself. Instead, I encountered indifference. After all, he still had a "B" so what was the big deal. Paraphrasing my sister-in-law, who had met with similar challenges with my brilliant but lazy nephew, I told him I expected him to do his best work every time and not to settle for the path of least resistance. He shrugged his shoulders, rolled his eyes and sighed. He was clearly not bending to my will.
I have lots of family and friends with teenage boys and virtually every one of them describes a similar dynamic. There are Mensa kids, average learners and boys with a range of special needs. Some of them are young for their grade level and some are a full year older than most of their peers. It does not seem to matter. They all share this attitude of apathy and a willingness to settle for mediocrity. So, for those of you wondering what happened to your boy prodigy, take some comfort in knowing that the rest of us are scratching our heads too.

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes it takes awhile for the light to turn on so they "get it" and realize their actions now will affect their opportunities for the rest of their life. Some people get it right away, but others need to take a college tour or see others get those opportunities before they start kicking themselves that it's too late.

    VERY frustrating!!