Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Au Contraire

Tonight I took Joey over to Joe Walker, the middle school he will be attending this fall. He was encouraged by his teachers to apply to a program called AVID, which encourages students along the path to college. Among other things, it focuses on teaching students the organizational and writing skills necessary to get accepted to and succeed in four year universities.

It is crazy enough that I have a middle-school aged I really have to be thinking about college already? Apparently, I do, and so does Joey.

Joey did not want to go. AT ALL. He wanted no part of this AVID business, no part of the informational meeting about it, nothing whatsoever that might separate him from the average student. He could not articulate to me why he was so opposed to this, just that he was, and he dug in his heels with complete obstinance.

Because I respect Joey's teachers so much, I did not waiver. If they believed that this program would particularly benefit Joey, I was at least going to learn more about it. Joey has become an A and B student under their guidance, and they know his particular challenges well. His success in school is still new, possibly fragile, and I will do anything I can to protect it.

So off we went. Me smiling, chattering away; Joey silent and sullen. When we arrived he would not get out of the car. I marched right in, knowing he would eventually follow me. He did, but the hostility was palpable. Luckily, his two best friends from school were there so I had enough credibility to at least get him in the room.

Quite unfortunately, I realized immediately that this was not just information night, but it was application night too. As soon as we checked in, the proctor called Joey in to write an essay, to be followed by an interview.

I almost died.

Joey despises writing, strongly objects to any work he can avoid and didn't want to even attend an informational meeting on this program, much less apply to it. I held my breath waiting to see what he would do. To my complete surprise and delight, he hesitated just a moment, then said, "OK" and followed the proctor. I went into the parent presentation and waited.

When Joey met me after his essay and interview, I could immediately sense the change in his demeanor. He really clicked with the teacher who interviewed him, so much so that he took me over to meet her. Turns out, she is the language arts teacher for 7th graders on the AVID track. My first positive indicator was his question, "You mean that I'd definitely get her for language arts if I do this program?"

I learned in the parent program that only 25-35 7th graders will be enrolled in AVID out of several hundred, so I told Joey that we would have to wait and see if he was accepted into the program, that he might not get to choose. He stopped, looked surprised and said, "You mean some people aren't going to get in? Then I TOTALLY want to do this!"

Nothing like a little competition to get him revved up.

The rest of the evening was spent discussing why he thinks he'll get in, why this is such a good program for him, and what college he wants to get in to.

Isn't that human nature? Alive and well in my son.

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