[Seriously, you need to go back and read the other parts of this before reading this one. There's no recap, just full speed ahead.]
This is the period full of second guessing for us. Middle school was... Well, it was problematic, to say the least. Homework was a nightmare. We quit being able to do anything as a family, because my son would spend all night, every night, doing homework. There was never time left for anything else.
Sure, some of it was his fault. He did have the ability to work faster but, from his perspective, why was he even having to do it at all? I can't even think of a good analogy for this, because, other than school, there is no part of life that requires this kind of thing. Which is not to say that there aren't some jobs which require you to take your work home with you, but those are by choice. I mean, you choose those jobs, and you can un-choose them if you want to. School isn't like that.
Look, it was kind of like this:
It was like having to drag your horse to water because it refused to walk there. Once there, you had to force its head under to make it drink but, instead of drinking the water, it would just hold its breath until it couldn't, at which point it would breathe in a bunch of the water, so you had to pump its chest and do CPR just before holding its head under again.
Oh, wait, this sounds like some torture technique...
And that's what it was, familial torture.
It was at this point we were just trying to power through middle school with the hopes that high school would be better.
Let me back up a moment:
For one thing, middle school is miserable for virtually everyone. I hated middle school. I mean, I loathed middle school. Not that my parents ever knew. My mom, despite how many times I've told her to the contrary, is still under the illusion that I loved middle school. But high school, which I had dreaded, once I acclimated to it, was pretty great. Okay, well, it was pretty okay. I mostly enjoyed high school.
We had had issues with his older brother in middle school; not the same kinds of issues, but we'd still had issues. When he got to high school, everything had turned around for him, and he loved high school
This may have been part of the issue that was created...
For years, Phillip had wanted to go to Tech High, a local area high school that specialized in math and, you guessed it, technology. Phillip really likes to build things, and they have a robotics program. It seemed like a good fit. He even applied there and was accepted. (You have to be ahead of the curve to get into that school, and Phillip was certainly that, being two years ahead in math when he got out of middle school (if you count the year he skipped, he was actually three years ahead).)
But, see, math... We had been struggling with him over his math homework constantly, and we couldn't see how it would be better if he went to a high school centered around math.
The thing that had turned everything around for his brother had been drama and choir, and, as I mentioned last post, Phillip developed a real love for acting and, specifically, musical theater during middle school, and he had decided that he wanted to follow in his brother's footsteps and go into the same program his brother had been through.
Trying to find the thing that Phillip would enjoy and give him some joy in school again, we let him make the decision. There was some ambivalence on his part because he had wanted to go to Tech High for years but, when he went to shadow there (if you don't know what that is, ask in the comments), it was a horrible experience where he was pretty much just left to sit alone for hours while the students worked on some project on their computers. He did get accepted there, but he chose the arts program and to go do drama. His shadowing experience there had been very positive considering everyone knew his brother and welcomed him right away.
He's really good, by the way. A natural actor and able to do character parts really well. He also has a great ear and voice. Basically, he's a natural.
So we made it through middle school, got him into the high school he wanted to go to, and we held our breaths. Just like that horse with its head being held under the surface of the lake.