My oldest had an in class essay to do sometime during the first week of school. The essay was for English III honors. Keep this in mind as you are reading. His stress level was high, which is the only consolation I am giving him. *an aside* (over the summer they were required to read an autobiography or biography. M chose a book about Gary Paulson. They had questions to answer regarding their selection and were told AHEAD that these questions would be used to write an in class essay.)
The topic was something along the lines of, How did the person you chose to read about live or not live out the American dream? Sorry I cannot be more specific, I am obviously not in English III. Mark stressed about the essay, but seemed confident after it was over. (This should have been my first sign.) He received the essay back graded a week later. He received a grade that neither he nor his father was happy about.
When John questioned him, of course it was the teachers fault. John looked M in the eye and said, "Let me read the essay." John read the first paragraph and said, "You are lucky you passed this essay. Your essay reads like a 4th grader wrote it. The grammar is so atrocious I can't even see beyond it to tell if your context makes sense." Well, M huffed and puffed as teens do, gave lots of eye rolls but John wouldn't relent. John said, "This weekend you will re-write it for me. You have become a dependent clause and it is time you start recognizing one."
Amazingly, M did rewrite the essay. John, being far more knowledgeable in grammar than I, sat down with Mark and went sentence by sentence through the paper working on grammar. When it was finished John said, "Now, I want you to email the corrected version to your teacher. I want you to ask her to re-read the paper. Ask her to provide you with feedback and let her know that you want to do better. The worst that could happen is that she will say no." Let me tell you I thought M was going to have a massive coronary when he heard this. The look on M's face was priceless! It took 3 days and more badgering and persistence than, well a badger , but finally M gave up the fight.
All the while John was butting heads with M, John kept worrying about whether he was doing the right thing. Typical parental guilt, Am I being to hard on him? Am I expecting to much from him? Is he really capable of the work I think he is? If you are the parent, You know the drill, I am sure.
His teacher agreed to re-read the essay and M, unwilling re-submitted his paper. That evening John went with M to his meet the teacher night. The first stop....English. John said, that Mrs. W, M's English teacher, was completely blown away by M's willingness to better himself. She said that this was the first time in 19 years of teaching that she has ever had a student ask for help just because they wanted to improve themselves, and not because they wanted their grade raised. (although that would have been OK ) As a matter of fact, Mrs. W. said she bragged about M in the teacher's lounge to her colleagues. John called me all excited about the positive response Mrs. W. had given. He also spent time discussing the wealth of resources she has in her class room. Mrs. W personally invited John to bring M in to work on grammar. She assured him he is welcome at any time. He was so happy that he was justified. (I was just happy that I had nothing to do with any of it! :)
I talked with M the next day, and tried to give him praise for his hard work. M looked a little down. When I asked what was wrong he replied, "All I was thinking the whole time Mrs. W was talking was, "Man, I cannot believe dad was right!" The only thing that could have been more mortifying to M at that point, was if John had broken into his happy dance in the classroom. It was mortifying enough to watch him do it in the Kitchen.