We’ve had a revelation in our household:  Those that do what they’re supposed to do, get to do the things that they want to do.

Earth-shattering revelation huh?

Rowdy seems to have been on a mission this school year to see how low he can actually get his grades without actually skipping or being disrespectful to his teachers.  We’ve seen grades as low as 15 and 20 for the term.  He’s failing all of his core classes – 5 total.  The only classes he was passing at his progress report last week was ROTC and Art (although he just barely passed Art – seriously?  How do you fail Art?).

We have tried everything – support, grounding, kudos, restrictions – you name it, we have tried it.  He continues to attend counseling and the reports we received back were all the same – keep on doing what you’re doing, be consistent and allow him to figure it out on his own.  The counselor sees what we see – Rowdy is very intelligent and very stubborn.  He knows what he knows and no one can tell him anything different.  He has to learn things for himself.

So…what has been his agenda with attempting to lower his grades to sub-abysmal levels?

My comments to a teacher’s emailed concerns had the counselor agreeing that I had outlined the issue truthfully:

“Rowdy is attempting to get back to his mom’s house at all costs.  His first attempt was to misbehave to the point of being suspended from school multiple times.  Now he’s trying to get his way by doing nothing.  He’s hoping his father and I will get so frustrated with him that we’ll give up and give in and allow him to have his way.  We’re not going to do that because it’s not in his best interest.”

That concerned email came from his teacher on a Monday two weeks ago and she copied both Hun and I.  Hun responded to her that we’d take care of it.  I gave a slightly longer response, including the above tidbit, that included some back history so she would know what we’ve been doing and if she had any ideas, we’d appreciate the help.

By Friday of the same week, less than 4 days later, we received another email from the same teacher:  Rowdy has done an amazing turnaround.  He’s participating, he’s doing the work, he’s making up work he did not do before and he’s being respectful and helpful – whatever we did, it’s working.  I responded that we appreciated the update, but that we couldn’t take the credit – it was all Rowdy’s doing.

So….what did Rowdy do?

He asked a key question on that Monday night that I saw through right away:  I’m asking for a friend, how much does it cost to do the parent taught driver’s education course?

We discussed it like we were talking about his friend at first.  Then the conversation subtly shifted to LaLa and her recent passing of her driver’s license and Buddy and his driving lessons.  And then I totally shifted the conversation full on to Rowdy with this:

“You’re going to be 16 before the end of the school year.  Part of the reason we haven’t started driving lessons with you is because of you.  How can we put you behind the wheel of a 2 ton vehicle if you cannot show us that you are responsible for the little things in life like homework, chores and attitude?  The short answer is we can’t.  You have to show us you’re responsible in the little things before we can go forward to the big things like driving.  The complete parent taught course only takes 45 days from start to finish, less than 2 months.  The reality is you could be driving by the end of the summer, but we can’t even begin until you show us you’re ready for the responsibility.  Ask LaLa what it means to have her freedom that driving brings.”

And with that short conversation, that didn’t involve raised voices or begging or bribing or any of the other deals we had attempted over the past year, we found Rowdy’s carrot.

It’s been two weeks and Rowdy’s grades are still failing.  However, he’s staying after school for tutoring, turning his work in and participating.  In just two short weeks, he’s doubled his failing grades (granted, that’s not saying much when it goes from a 20 to a 40, but still!) and he’s on his way to doubling them again.

Fingers crossed that he keeps up the momentum!