About two weeks before school was out for summer, as I was giving Jude his good night kiss, he suddenly said to me "Now I kind of wish I was taking summer school at Loyola." "Really?" I asked incredulously. "Yeah, all my friends are doing it. It might be fun."
WHAT? Summer school might be FUN? This from the mouth of my child? The one who always said he'd rather stick hot pokers in his eyes than go to summer school? My motherly heart started to pitter-patter with excitement. He WANTS to go to summer school! He wants to LEARN!
I immediately ran to my computer and discovered that we still had two days in which to enroll. It could be done!
I should explain that Loyola High School is a prestigious local all-boys Catholic prep school not far from us. It's an excellent school, and there is MUCH competition to get into it. It's also the school that pretty much every boy in Jude's school wants to go to. Which is sad, because they can't all go there, it's too hard to get in. So some boys...maybe my boy...will be disappointed. And honestly, it's not the best school for every boy. But whenever a boy chooses to go to a different high school, and their parents say that the other high school was a "better fit", everyone kind of just assumes that they just didn't get into Loyola. Which is of course totally unfair. Because of this intense competition, there is always much discussion about what to do to "get into Loyola" - good grades, sports, community service, altar serving - and parents push their boys into doing these things solely to get into the good school, which is sort of disgusting. And by "parents" I mean...me.
So for Jude to want to go to Loyola summer school - yes, yes, yes, this would look good on the application! Especially if he does well. So I sat down with him and let him choose which courses he wanted to take. He chose...and seriously, he picked these himself with no encouragement from me...Study Skills (I swear to God, he picked that himself "I think I could use a few study skills." and Creative Writing. Nothing terribly stressful or academic - no math or anything. I quickly cracked into a mutual fund and signed the boy up.
It was not going to be easy. The summer school ran for five weeks. Which wouldn't be difficult in itself, but it was also the SAME five weeks that his much beloved Junior Lifeguards ran. Uh-oh. So this meant that his schedule would be -
8:30 to 11:30 - summer school
11:30 to 12:30 - eat lunch in the car while driving to JGs carpool dropoff
12:30 to 1:30 - drive to the beach.
1:30 to 4:30 - Junior Guards
4:30 to 6:00 - drive home
And then there was homework.
Okay, it was a lot for an 11-year old kid. But he could do it. No problem. He could do it. I was pretty sure.
And guess what? He couldn't do it.
Well..he did it. But he didn't LIKE doing it. It was too much.
I should add that in the middle of all this, Jimmy was in the hospital for two weeks, which can't have helped with the stress. But honestly, I think it would have been the same if he'd been home and healthy.
It all came to a head one night about three weeks into it. Jude suddenly remembered at about 9:15 pm that he had forgotten to do one of his homework assignments for his Study Skills class. He started to freak out. And this is a kid who never freaks out - he almost never cries or gets dramatic (unlike his father or me!). But he freaked out - it was all too much stress, too much work, "It's SUMMER, Mom, summer's supposed to be FUN! I just want to have fun and relax!"
And then he said it.
"You put too much pressure on me! You make me feel like if I don't do well in summer school I'll never get into a good high school and then I'll FAIL IN LIFE!"
Oh. Hmm. Did I really do that? Could I have really have done that? Uh-oh.
So I hugged him and let him cry. And I told him that it was only stupid summer school, and the grades wouldn't go on his record (though they might really, I don't even know), and then I let him do something that I'd never let him do ever in his life - we played hooky from Study Skills the next day! It was such a relief for us both. We both slept in, and then I called the school and LIED. It was very naughty and FREEING.
After that, everything sort of relaxed. He was less worried and I was less worried and he seemed to get a thing or two out of the whole experience. But I have assured him that in the future, he doesn't have to go to summer school again unless he wants to. He can just do Junior Guards and play in the sun and have a real summer.
And guess what? We just got his Loyola report card and damn if the boy didn't make two "A"s! In the Comments area both teachers said he performed "Outstanding Work in This Class". One said he was a "Highly motivated and cooperative student" and the other said he "Participates effectively in class." Good for you Little Man!
For the next month, I'm not going to make the kid do a damned thing. Except for his summer reading assignment. And those math pages. But other than that it's gonna be all chillaxing. He deserves it!