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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Interview with Dude, the 12 year old - School Sucks - he tells us why

Interview with "Dude" - the 12 year old.

We've called our son Dude since he was a toddler. It stuck.

Today after church I sat down and asked Dude to talk about something besides Legos, iTouch apps, or Guns N Roses.  He couldn't really come up with anything so I started asking some questions.  Things I'm really curious about.

Dude has ADHD. He hates school. Not an exaggeration. He prays for snow days. God has granted him a few too many recently.

Dude is in 6th grade.  A few months ago he was tested in his reading and writing ability.  Dude reads at a 12th grade level, yes a Senior. Dude writes at a 10th grade level, a sophomore. He's never been on the A, B honor roll.  He hates that. A lot.  Mostly he spends his days feeling like he can't quite measure up.

I asked Dude what it was about school that makes him hate it so much.  Here is his story.

"It's horrible to sit and listen to lectures all day long."  He says this with the kind of emotion and disdain that we reserve for descriptions of a 12 car pile up on the freeway. 

He then says something I find profound and frustrating. "Did you know we have huge science lab in Mr.Soinso's class and we NEVER use it."  That complete frustrates him and bums him out.  It bums me out too. 

"Mr. Mathsalot takes us to the computer lab and lets us play math games on the computer.  We all love that."

Note to teachers: less lecture, more hands on

They have a discipline program; X's and stamps. If you get to the end of the nine weeks with 5 stamps (these are good) and less than 11 X's (these are bad) you get to go to the party.  It's a big deal not to go to the party because that room looks like Saturday detention with The Breakfast Club. Dude would be Brian Johnson, who was played by Anthony Michael Hall. The smart kid, trying to fit in.

Dude missed the party last time because he had 5 X's for not having a pencil, on top of a few more X's for forgetting his homework.  The homework that he completed before he even got home that night but just couldn't seem to get back into class the next day. More than 11 X's, no party.

Dude tells me about a teacher that only gives out X's  "When you go there, you know you won't get anything but bored and X's, nothing good.  I HATE going to that class."  5 X's for not having a pencil.  I taught a class of professionals last Thursday, a lady that runs six public high schools didn't have a pencil and asked to borrow one before I started teaching. (true story)  I've got her email address, I think I'll shoot her 5 X's.

As Dude is telling me his scholastic sucksville stories, he remembers that he's missing a book for reading class and his teacher told him if he doesn't turn it in tomorrow he gets 5 X's.  He already has 9.  Yea, for those keeping score at home, that's a 'no party' move.  Apparently he's been looking for the book since last year.

I'll be driving to town today to buy said book.  That's not normally how I handle things.  I'm big on consequences and taking responsibility but today as I listen again to what sucks about school for Dude, I'm sad and angry.  I'm thinking about wrapping the book  in wrapping paper covered in X's with a big red bow and a nice hand written note for the teacher that simply says, "Suck It".  But I won't. Because I know the secret code of the teacher's lounge and that move would be sudden death for Dude.  I hate school too.

Now Dude is asking me about downs syndrome.  They have a new girl in class with downs. He wants to know what her life will be like when she's an adult. He's genuinely interested and concerned.  This guy is the most caring 12 year old on the planet.  He sends me app recommendations like CauseWorld that donates money to charities by keeping track of your Karmas when you visit certain places.  He insists on going back into church today to see if there is wireless to get his karma points on CauseWorld today.   Hey Mr. X, how about that for some freakin' stamps, huh? 

I emailed one of Dude's teachers recently asking for their advice on helping Dude with his grade.  He had a few missing assignments that was dragging him down but good grades on quizzes and tests.  The teacher responded, "He should be more organized." That       Is       Brilliant!  As the mother of this ADHD genius, I have never thought of that!  And, that deaf kid in class should listen more. 

If I had stupid money I'd spend my days and nights revamping the school system. Instead I'm working hard to make sure the system doesn't beat my kid down by marking him with X's and stamps until he can become old enough to save the world.  He'll be hiring a virtual assistant to make sure he always has enough pencils. 

 Here are some highlights from The Breakfast Club, I've made special note of those quotes from Brian Johnson.

Richard Vernon: You're not fooling anyone, Bender. The next screw that falls out will be you.
John Bender: Eat my shorts.
Richard Vernon: What was that?
John Bender: Eat... My... Shorts.
Richard Vernon: You just bought yourself another Saturday.
John Bender: Ooh, I'm crushed.
Richard Vernon: You just bought one more.
John Bender: Well I'm free the Saturday after that. Beyond that, I'm going to have to check my calendar.
Richard Vernon: Good, cause it's going to be filled. We'll keep going. You want another one? Just say the word say it. Instead of going to prison you'll come here. Are you through?
John Bender: No.
Richard Vernon: I'm doing society a favor.
John Bender: So?
Richard Vernon: That's another one right now! I've got you for the rest of your natural born life if you don't watch your step. You want another one?
John Bender: Yes.
Richard Vernon: You got it! You got another one right there! That's another one pal!
Claire Standish: Cut it out!
Richard Vernon: You through?
John Bender: Not even close bud!
Richard Vernon: Good! You got one more right there!
John Bender: You really think I give a shit?
Richard Vernon: Another! You through?
John Bender: How many is that?
Brian Johnson: That's seven including when we first came in and you asked Mr. Vernon whether Barry Manilow knew that he raided his closet.
Richard Vernon: Now it's eight. You stay out of this.
Brian Johnson: Excuse me sir, it's seven.

Brian Johnson:

Dear Mr. Vernon: We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. But, we think you're crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us: in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But, what we found out is that each one of us is: a brain . . .
Andrew Clark:

And an athlete . . .
Allison Reynolds:

And a basket case . . .
Claire Standish:

A princess . . .
John Bender:

And a criminal.
Brian Johnson:

Does that answer your question? Sincerely yours, The Breakfast Club.