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We're Okay With Our Son Getting Thrown Out of His Educational Program

July 25, 2023
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Well, we’re just into summer break, and already, I’m over it.

Not the whole thing, but the part where I (again) live with a seventeen-year-old who (again) I do love very, very much. It’s just that he knows so very much while I know so very little. I see his logic, of course, what with my 52 years of life experience compared to his not-even two decades.

Oh, and there’s that whole other thing where this is my SECOND 17-year-old, the former of whom publicly admits that we (the parents) may have been right on one or two items back in her late teen years. That child is staring down her 21st birthday, and, I’m telling you, psychologists are not kidding when they talk about the blessings of that frontal lobe.

Our son was removed from the International Baccalaureate Program at his school. (TBKilman)

It’s been a rough end to junior year of high school

Admittedly, we are coming off a rough end to our son’s junior year in high school. It was a year that ended with his “removal” from the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, a select program that he opted to give the old college try because (his words) “he could get all C’s but still have a high weighted GPA.” No, it’s not that we didn’t see that glaring red flag. We shrugged and moved on, hoping he would finally find his work ethic.

He did not.

Okay, so he wasn’t so much removed as he was dismissed after a code of conduct hiccup in which he betted once too often that taking an assignment shortcut would pass as putting his nose to the academic grindstone. Cheating? Actually, no. Just a dabble in digitizing a presentation meant to be completed the old-fashioned way; by actually doing the work.

My son ratted himself out

The good news is that he was nabbed after telling on himself. He oversold the project and was the recipient of numerous accolades, all in front of his half-dozen classmates who looked on with sleepy eyes after pulling all-nighters to wrap up months of work. Yes, A+ for the guilty conscious. Kind of.

He told his classmates, not his teachers. The message of “I didn’t deserve that because I took a taxi rather than run the marathon, but, hey, let’s just keep that on the down low” was not kept on the down low.

He may be smarter than the adults in his life, but at least he has great morals. And in fairness, the project deadline came quickly. It was, after all, only handed out in, well, September. Granted, the individual topic choices weren’t approved until October, so, yes, that did shave off a whole month. We’re not sure what happened to the remaining thirty-four weeks, but really, whose fault was that? (No need to answer; I know it already).

All year my son perfected his ability to take shortcuts

I suppose the history of hole-digging did not help his case. For most of those thirty-four weeks, our son perfected his ability to take shortcuts. He started perfecting the shortcut the day he walked into middle school. It’s just also panned out perfectly.

Perhaps if he’d taken the IB syllabus seriously, with its signed pledge to do the work, there would have been a bit of mercy at year’s end. It was not to be, as this was the final of the shortcut straws. The bugger of it all? The relatively unfazed reaction from said son, including a practically proud declaration of “I’m an underachiever, it’s kind of my shtick.”

”Um, what?? YOUR SHTICK??!?!?

I mean, sure…as long as he’s got it all figured out.

We stopped talking about colleges of next year’s classes for a time

For a moment, there was a halt to conversations about colleges or even next year’s classes as we (the parents) thought that by the time we rounded this corner of “What will you do next?” the benefits of education would have revealed themselves. It’s not that we’ve insisted on college for either of our children, but we have insisted that they Do something next.

This revelation of our proud underachiever was a punch to the parental gut. Were we going to head into his senior year, his final year, standing on a foundation of I’m just not that motivated? Look, we’re not dumb (oh wait…).

We know that children come in all shapes, sizes, preferences, and motivation levels. Still, it felt like the family snow globe was overturned once again.

We had hoped that our son would drop out of the IB curriculum

In all honesty, we’d hoped that he would voluntarily drop from the program next year. We saw how miserable he was this year as he watched deadlines pass, and low grades appear. For the first time, there were no straight-A report cards. We even saw a D once during the marking period. And while we heard his words, we knew it bothered him.

We hoped he’d opt out and trade in the pressure he claimed he didn’t care about for a final year that included some breathing room. This child managed the shortcut for ten years while taking a banking class after the required class. This child could have graduated an entire year early if he had wanted to.

We also hoped it would be his decision and not because of a committee’s ruling that came with a dinged-up record.

We know our son will be fine

In the end, we know our son will be fine. He’s just 17, after all. No signs yet of that frontal lobe approaching the starting line. Yes, his senior year will include a few classes that we hope are softballs, but they will be balanced with a few classes that still include his fellow IB students who have thankfully kept him in their fold.

This will be a long summer, with the smartest one in the house being a mere baby adult. We (the parents) will likely quietly mutter, “Just wait a few years … it will be fine,” several times per day. And if all else fails, we will take the advice of our twenty-year-old, who insists that, eventually, he will appreciate just how wise we (the parents) are.

More Great Reading:

Best Parenting Decision I Ever Made WAs During My Son’s Junior Year

What are the Rules for My College Son Who’s Home for Summer?

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