Friday, October 9, 2009

Fighting until you cross the finish line

Almost all my blog posts are about taking ownership for your own actions and changing it up by taking self blame for poor choices.  

At any time, ANYONE, can decide, hey, my way isn't working, let me try something else. To those of you that are looking for a change, best way to teach ownership, is to take ownership.

Here is a personal example of my failure, and listening to others to help the one I love. Kimmy.

I brag about my strong daughter, but like most pre-teen girls, besides boys, music, and friends, she had no direction. I knew she was only 13ish, but I didn't want her struggling like me.  I wanted better motivation for education and further education.

My daughter spent most of her pre-teens and early teen life grounded. Yes.  We didn't take the bs.  But the groundings weren't working. By mid first semester of her sophomore year of High School, she had several Fs. Her room was BARE.  I was failing to motivate her. My husband and I were so frustrated with her silence, and all the non communication.  I wanted, and tried to blame the school. It was kind of hard to blame all her teachers, the deans, and principals via phone and email.  I work full time, and have since I was 18.  I don't have the energy to raise a kid, be a wife and mother, and a full time recruiter in the beginning of a recession.

I had a boss that was bold. Alyssa's actions and grades at school was causing my work to suffer. My boss pulled me aside.  Even though she didn't have kids, she said, "Kimmy, YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG! YOU NEED TO GIVE THAT GIRL SOME FREEDOM!!! RIGHT NOW SHE HAS NOTHING TO LOSE OR GAIN!!"  

Now I could have turned my nose up. I could have ignored. But my way wasn't being motivating. I was failing that kid.  I knew I had to try something else, keep changing it up.

I asked that same boss, if she would let me schedule a meeting with the High School during work hours.  She agreed. So I went.

Every teacher Alyssa had, every dean, every principal, came into the office right after first bell. What started out with me asking for notification of her grades, quickly turned into a "bash mom" session.  The grades were available online I was told. Why wasn't I checking? They asked over and over. As the meeting went on, I could see that the room shifted to a kid failing, to it is MOM's fault!!  And guess what...I had to hide a smile!!  Yes!  It was! I was failing her. The teachers now felt obligated to help Alyssa, to save her from mom.  It was so funny to watch the entire room back my daughter, and look at me as a working mom.  It was great!

After that day, those teachers took a personal interest in Alyssa. One of her study hall teachers, on his own, invited the Girls Track Coach to 2nd hr study hall to meet Alyssa.  One permission slip later, She was on the girls track team, running, sprinting, shotput and discus.   She met more friends.  After that, the choir teacher, decided to introduce Alyssa to the theatre crew.  So, when she wasn't performing in the choir, she was doing lights, set up and take down. MAN...I should have taken ownership of my failures earlier!!!!  With the better grades, and the fact she was at school until way after 7 pm every day, she was also going out more with friends.

I had to keep an eye on those grades. I gave warning, I set that kid up for success.  Did she still miss assignments? YUP.  But instead me never checking, it was caught early, and I jumped in the bad guy role.  I called or emailed the teacher asking how I can help.  I think the teachers started pushing Alyssa more just to make sure I didn't email.  Again, being the bad guy brought great pleasure watching Alyssa and the teachers pushing each other to succeed.  They suprised me her Senior Year, she was asked to write for the "South Side Story, (school paper),and published at three or four stories every issue.  Alyssa didn't even tell me at first.  She placed the first edition on the coffee table without telling anyone. When I saw her first article, I couldn't even read it, tears were welled up.  Little did I know she was watching our reaction from the dining room.  Proud mom, proud daughter!

Can you imagine what would have happened if I would have told my boss that she was being judgmental, and clenched my teeth and said, "don't tell me what to do!"  Can you imagine if I had told her, "The reason she doesn't do her homework is because she is so much smarter than the other kids?"  My boss would have told me that I was being ridiculous.

It wasn't her suggestion that changed Alyssa. It was changing my behavior. Changing it up taking the blame! We changed up our efforts, to try something else; because what we as parents were doing wasn't working for her. 

Our society has an excuse for every thing that happens in life.  How much of society is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results? How many parents find the world to blame, because they rather blame something, some disease, anything but themselves? Are they teaching their children to take ownership, or find something or someone to blame?

The below post is from my daughter after reading this.   I asked her if she wanted to add anything to my thoughts.  She knows I get judgmental on issues, so I asked her to take a look to make sure I was able to get my point across in a positive manner. I have to change up my own behavior, to better myself.  I have a problem offering opinions and turning that into bashing. I can help it.  I can take a step back and try to get my point across without offending. Take ownership, and make the necessary changes.

To my mom's readers;

To think that this all started over four years ago... At the time I started high school, all I wanted was the typical Disney life. What those shows do not show you, is you begin to fail every class, and end up struggling to find a path that will keep you alive. After failing three classes my freshman year I began to believe that my high school was going to end in me graduating a year late, but the determination of my parents to keep me on the right track and the help from my teachers made it easier for me to continue.

About halfway through my Sophomore year, I found several great friends who helped me on my path to success. Most of the friends that I had prior to that; were the no names, and the people who couldn't care less about the world around them. After that, I found friends whose names were everywhere around the school; from the play cast list, to the people involved in sports. It made it easier because they all had the drive, and the will to succeed. Being around that positive energy pushed me to be a positive force.

I ended up passing all of my classes that semester and every semester after that. I ended up graduating with three credits more than I needed. And at graduation,  I came to say goodbye and hugged a teacher after graduation. He told me he saw this coming from the start, and that he was proud to have helped me in my high school journey.

My parents, while constantly working, still always made time to fit me into their day. I made sure after my sophomore year to include them in my life, and I think that helped out with the family communication. Honestly, I couldn't of asked for better parents. They put up with a lot and managed not to kill me in the process.

I know that most people say that if they could go back they would do it differently, but I cannot help but wonder if the mistakes that I made and the advice that I have received in the last four years would have been passed along to me if I hadn't made all of these mistakes. 

I definitely wouldn't do it over again though. My current journey of being a full time student, and meeting several great new friends and a great guy with goals makes me too happy to go back to high school!

Sometimes all you need is that person or people to catch you when you fall and thankfully I had those people along the way.

Written by Alyssa Garcia.

Sharing light with Kimmy. Striving to create a path between the present course of events and a new course; leading to new outcomes.

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  1. What a wonderful post! I have 2 boys in elementary school - the older one will be off to high school next year. Thanks for the heads up, Kimmy and Alyssa!

  2. I have been sitting here reading this blog for a while now - thinking about commenting your latest post - but after reading this one - I have to write something.

    An amazing post. An important issue for both parents and children. Keep up the good writing - both of you :o)