Jan 27, 2017

Motivational Speech for Teenagers


Our school district has this nifty little app called "Campus Portal" where parents and students alike can check their grades at any time. How cool is that?! To have had this gift as a high schooler would have been invaluable to me. Bennett, apparently, doesn't share my excitement for this wonderful little tool. He doesn't make as good of use of it as I would have imagined.

The other morning, after making lunches and waiting for the kids to wake up, I was perusing this important, data-filled site. I made an interesting discovery while looking at Bennett's grades. He got a 40% on an assessment. Not cool. And it was in a class he actually likes and is good at. Armed with this new knowledge, I asked Bennett, "Um, Honey? Why did you get a 40 on a test?"

"Um. I don't know."

"Ya. That answer's not gonna work."

"Um. What class was it?"

"Food and Nutrition."

"Ya, it wasn't a big deal. Don't worry, I've got it all under control."

"Um, no. It is a big deal to me. If you keep this up you're going to end up being a factory worker and you will not like that!"

I was upset if you can't tell. Plus, factory worker?, what hat did I pull that out of? That's the worst possible job I could think of? Granted, it was early morning, but usually I'm on my "A" game at that time of the day. Its the kids who aren't cognitively functional before the sun comes up.

The threat of unfavorable future employment didn't seem to affect Bennett. He just shrugged it off. My little motivational speech went over like a lead balloon. I was going to have to change my strategy.

The whole thing is actually a little ridiculous if you think about it. Bennett is a good student. He has A's and high B's mostly. Every once in a while he'll bomb a test. I'm not a Tiger Mom. I want them to enjoy learning, see the gift that it is, and take advantage of the opportunity to increase their knowledge base. I also know that alot of what schools call "learning" is actually just repetition of facts thrown at them and does them little good in the scheme of things. I always encourage my kids to do their best and I'll be proud of them. I'm not hung up on their grades. But a 40% - that's just not trying. That's give up.

Since my earlier prophecy of future factory employment didn't seem to motivate him, I tried a different angle. I told him of a quote I'd recently heard. He likes quotes. Then I told him how it affected my life. He loves to relate to others and see that he's not the only one who screws up.

"Buddy, remember this: 'The way you do anything is the way you do everything.' So if you cut corners on your math homework, you're cutting corners on the basketball court. If you're not giving your all to physics, you're not giving your all to basketball. Do you understand, Sweetheart?"

This time he actually looked at me, nodded his head and agreed. Everything in his life goes back to basketball. If he thinks he's not doing his best on the court, it really upsets him. His hardest battle is his mind-game. And this quote plays right into that. I told him that I wanted him to repeat that quote every time he walks into a new class, when he runs up and down the court, when he's doing the thing he dislikes the most. Remember.

So he made a screen saver for his ipad with his new mantra on it then headed off to school.

This just goes to show that I still have no clue what I'm doing as a parent. I'm making it up as I go. I always say the wrong things at the wrong time. I don't think of good come-backs till its too late. And as I just proved, I come up with the worst examples when its crunch time.

I honestly have nothing against factory workers. We need them. Thank you Industrial Revolution. And unfortunately, in our current era, most factory workers are being replaced with robots and/or being automated. Sadly, it is no longer an upwardly mobile career option in the U.S.

But my point to him was, you may very well end up in a job where you have zero control of your own time and have to do only what you're told to do. This is not the path you see yourself on but the one your actions are going to bring you down if you don't try your hardest at everything - even a stupid test. It was the mindset I was trying to point out - not the job. I'm sure I could have picked 100 other jobs that are 10x worse than a factory worker. But you know, that's me - always sticking my foot in my mouth.

I apologize to all factory workers out there. I'm a moron.
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