Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Growth Spurts

     High School's been good for Braden so far. He's matured physically and grown more responsible.  Over the past two years he's sprouted three inches to over five-feet nine, a bit shorter than me. The orthopedist who examined his x—ray for mild sciatica (he's fine, with only fifteen degrees maximum curvature of the spine) says he has another year's growth spurt left in him that should take him past me. That pleased Deanne who's always been height-conscious about our kids. (In regards to Penelope who had early menses—she stands about five-feet four and continues to grow—she's been especially concerned. I told her, “Her height's fine. God decided it, so it's perfect. What do you want her to be a giant for?” (Deanne comes from a tall family and is just used to it, I guess). 
     When he entered high school this fall, catching the bus to and from school as usual, Braden acted a bit flaky, asking after three days if he could switch his shop elective to JROTC. I asked why? He said I don't know. I said electives are your choice. But later that evening I said give it at least a quarter, if you still want to switch, then you can. I don't want you switching now, then two weeks later hear you saying can I switch back or something like that. Plus shop is very useful—I still use stuff I learned from it back in middle school. 
     He said okay, but two day later asked if he could add JROTC as a before-school extra-credit class, giving him seven total credits for the quarter instead of the usual six. I said, “To catch your bus on time you'll have to leave around six o'clock—before me on some days if you catch the early bus, plus you'll have to make your own breakfast and wash you own dishes and get everything ready on your own. Plus you'll have to wake yourself up every morning and not expect someone to wake you 'cause you're too lazy to wake yourself. Can you manage to do that every morning? He said yes. I said okay, I'll sign it, but if your grades suffer, you'll have to drop it. (He knew that I meant he had to earn all B's or better 'cause when he was in middle school and joined Robotics Club and his grades sank below that mark, we made him quit). He said, I understand. 
     On his own he went and spoke to and got all the necessary approvals from counselors and teachers and didn't even need our help or signature. Best of all, from then on he self-started every morning and got out of the house sometimes even before Deanne got up. (He used to sometimes sleep through his beeping alarm clock until one of us roused him—a vile habit I detested. It reminded me of a college roommate that asked me to rouse him if he over-slept; I never did. I'd return from breakfast and his alarm would still be beeping...) .
     Soon, a scouting friend of his joined JROTC and offered Braden rides every morning (his family lives just up the street from us). Braden still caught the bus home, however, but got to sleep in an extra forty-five minutes the four days a week he had JROTC. But his morning routine stuck, waking independently and making his own breakfast—quite good for a fourteen year old. Mid-quarter, for the first time ever, his school's progress report showed all A's except for one B for JROTC. I didn't make a fuss about the A's even though I was astounded pleased because in the past it's resulted in subsequent poor performance.  I instead encouraged him to keep it up because it's just going to get tougher. By quarter's end his grades had slipped to B's for English (honors level albeit) and Social Studies but rose to an A for JROTC. 
     One area in which Braden hasn't shown equivalent maturation is in self-discipline. For years now I've noticed whenever he's out of time-out for long and doesn't have to do dishes and vacuum the floors every night as a result, he gets into more trouble. So a couple of months ago when he was about to emerge from an extended time-out, I assigned him permanent dinner time dish washing duty, plus his usual chores of emptying the rubbish and setting up the vacuum. It's been working well; he didn't even complain or sigh or hiss displeasure when I told him or explained why. (Deanne and I have given him chore breaks now and then, when he has scouting or is sick or has behaved extra well. And he usually does a diligent job with the dishes, sometimes even better than Deanne.)
      His speaking ability has also improved. As a youngster he was a fast talker, slurring and mumbling, mispronouncing words, and poorly arranging sentences or paragraphs, mainly because he spoke just to be heard—random spontaneous thoughts that often made no sense. Rather than speaking to be understood or having a worthwhile purpose, he seemed to be merely vocalizing social-sounding noises that were annoying to listen to and correct all the time. Whereas now he takes his time to gather his thoughts, speak sensibly, and enunciate well, which makes him a pleasure to listen to. 
     Praise God, people and kids in particular can improve.

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