So John-Michael has this girlfriend. Not the first high school romance my son has been involved in, as stories of him and a neighborhood girl were abundant and almost embarrassing about a year ago. But this one has been a little different from the little girl up the street. He has met her parents and spent a good amount of time with them (I am proud to say her father said my son is a very well mannered and respectful young man). He has brought her home to meet Tiffany and I, has introduced her to my Dad and siblings, and is even attending church with her every week. They are a cute little couple, and never go a minute without calling, or texting, or seeing each other. And while I remember the heart palpitations of puppy love with a high school sweetheart, their young and "innocent" relationship is starting to have negative ramifications somewhere else.

I am thankful everyday that my parents did not have a home access center when I was in school. For those of you not familiar with this technology, it is a parent's best friend. And in the case of my son, a student's worst enemy. See anytime, night or day, 24/7, I can log onto the Home Access Center and check any of my sons grades. I can see homework that has been due, tests that have been taken, and where they stand as of that moment in time. It was there that I first saw and celebrated Ben taking the steps he needed to be on the honor roll last year. And, conversely, it was there that I discovered that JM, AKA Casanova, had a 13% in English 2 weeks ago.

I had to look twice. 13%? That is bad even by baseball standards, where 30% is a hall of famer. A president with a 13% approval may not want to show his face. Companies with a 13% success rate are most likely not on the Fortune 500 list. And a 15 year old with a 13% is very clearly not making any effort whatsoever in that class. I thought to myself, what in this world could possibly cause his grades to fall off the table (he had two other F's too)? Oh yeah..........

See, John-Michael has this girlfriend.

I sat him down and asked him what the deal was. He owned up to it, at least at first. He was saying the right things. "It's my fault, I accept responsibility, I will fix it". I told him I wasn't interested in hearing it, he needed to show me. I explained that I never want him to get caught in the trap of doing just enough to get by or trying to catch up all at once. I told him he needed to find a balance between schoolwork, girlfriend, and wrestling, or that I would take two of the three away.

Next it was on with the excuses, that the teacher lost some of his assignments and that the computer didn't work right. I let him know the excuses were over and that he had two weeks to get the grades up. There is no explanation for 13%.

13%? That is not even trying.

He was shocked last Wednesday when I showed up to his school. I met the three teachers whose classes he was failing, then called him in. We talked about manning up and grown up responsibility and about how important every grade is in high school. His jaw almost hit the floor when Mrs.Wall told him if he didn't improve, he would be a Freshman again next year.

To their credit, his teachers all seem genuinely interested in his education, much more than he is. His geometry teacher has chased him down in the weight room to get his homework that he hadn't handed in. His English teacher agreed to accept his missing assignments even though he is well past the due date. And his science teacher continues to be an advocate for him in every way, saying he is one of the 20 smartest kids at the school but doesn't show it.

He worked on his homework and all of his grades save one were passing by the end of the week. He told me even that 13% is now a 51. Like I am supposed to celebrate a higher F? Please son, wait till next year when anything below a B means you are grounded. That's how it was when I was in school.

Man I sound like my Dad. But 13%? Seriously, what's a Dad gonna do?

I hope my son has learned something in all this. That having a successful high school career means learning to balance. And if you cannot do that, Dad and Tiffany will make it a lot easier by making sure you only have grades to focus on.

Day # 420. He really is a great kid, just caught up in hormones and high school. Still, having him as my son means that it is good to be me!


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