Thursday, August 7, 2008

It's Just A Backpack, Right?

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

The backpack.

Such an innocent school item, right? Most kids don't dread them, and I've never known a parent to cringe at the sight of them. Oh sure.... parents who are dealing with them for the first time might get a little teary. Parents who are dealing with them for the last time might get a little nostalgic. But no one is actually threatened with an overwhelming and potentially debilitating fear of them, right?


Every fall, Jock starts out with an empty backpack. He's ok with that. As the school year progresses, and that backpack gets heavier, it seems his heart does as well. My boy, as gifted as he is athletically.... well, he struggles tremendously academically. I realize this might not come as a surprise to many of you. It doesn't to us, and while that makes me feel like something of a bad parent to admit that, I'm being honest. He's an amazing kid. He's sweet. Polite. Respectful. Super cute. Generous with his time, energies, emotions and whatever money is in his pocket at any given time. And he's got the biggest heart of gold I've ever seen. It's no secret that I adore this kid. But he will never be at the top of his class. All we have ever demanded of him is that while he might not bring home straight A's, he is absolutely expected to give the effort worthy of straight A's. Coach and I will accept nothing less than the same effort in the classroom as he gives on the field. Period. We're lucky. Jock demands that same effort of himself.

That's why that backpack gets so heavy for him. It begins to weigh on him emotionally, mentally and psychologically. And the heavier that backpack gets for him, the heavier it gets for me. For every weight in his heart, mine breaks a little more. I don't know how to help him lighten that load. I can take the books out, but I can't do the work for him. (Well, I guess I could. But I won't. And what does it say about me that sticking to my guns on that issue is almost as hard on me as watching him struggle??)

You wouldn't think a backpack would have much of a story to tell, would you? You'd be wrong. That backpack tells the story, year after year, of my son's determination. Of his character. Of his strength.

That backpack tells the story of my son.


Crazymamaof6 said...

wow! i know that story! way to go Jock giving it the effort! and way to stick to your guns mom. you can't do his work forever, it's easier to let him learn that now than bail them out, and have them struggle in the real world. later. you are one smart mama!
and i agree it's hard to not help. and to watch them struggle or feel weighed down.

Rockin Austin said...

I must be PMS-ing or something b/c this blog brings me to tears. Some kids just struggle so much in the classroom, but you and Coach are doing the right thing...just encourage him and tell him how proud you are.

*~*Cece*~* said...

Backpacks to kids are like purses to us, they carry EVERYTHING we need and have to deal with. My 6 year old is so lucky that hers is filled with crayons, colored pictures and reading words. That's it. *sigh* To be a kid again.

shutter happy jenn said...

I sometimes ask why kids carry super heavy bags yet older students don't get to carry that much.

My PSF this week is posted HERE. Please check on it if you can. Happy weekends!

Stella said...

This is an excellent post! Being a teacher, I see this a lot. That backpack, even when empty, can weigh a ton for some kids. And it's not that they don't try, it's just hard for them! It's too bad that some of them don't have parents like you and Coach to help them along!!

ALF said...

As long as he's doing his best he'll go far in life!

Kidzmama said...

When I watch football games I am always amazed at how each of the players has memorized the different runs. I'm sure that most of the "book smart" people out there in the world can't do that!

Jock has incredible talent and a pure heart. It will take him far in life, but what will take him even farther is the support of you and Coach. You are indeed great parents.

Karen said...

I know Jock's story. We're living it out here, and the worst part is that these kids do try so hard, and know they're still not making the best grades.

Susie said...

You sound like an amazing Mom, and I truly believe our children will become and are what we believe them to be. You wrote about all of his strengths: his athleticism, generosity, kindness, timeliness, philanthropy, and loveliness-not to mention his handsome good looks.

As a former teacher I have a little trick-if interested let me know. As a mom I have even more tricks.
Life is too short to let our backpacks bring us down. Jock is amazing-and sounds like he holds all of the keys to success in the palm of hand-he doesn't need to worry about the weight on his shoulders!


raising4boys said...

I loved your story!! I know all too well that mother's ache when a child doesn't do well in school. Hopefully his love for athletics will help him want to succeed.

Chris said...

Seeing it through to the end, no matter how difficult, has always been high on my list of human virtues. An inspiring story, thanks for sharing.

Robyn said...

Sometimes doing your best is all you can do.

Anglophile Football Fanatic said...

Is it already time to go back again? Seriously? Oh, my. Good luck Jock. I hope this is the year his perseverence pays off.

Loralee Choate said...

I feel with you. My son has struggled every year of school. He isn't even athletically gifted, the arts are his calling. This year we decided to change schools and start him in middle school as a 6th grader instead of a 7th grader.

His birthday was only 4 days till the deadline and I have regretted starting him every single year. Finally, everyone involved is listening to me and I am hopeful that this year he will have academic successes.

We'll see.

Good luck to you this year as well. I know how hard it is.

Cecily R said...

I'm so behind. Sorry.

This gave me mom goosebumps. I adore your kids. And I adore you.

Burgh Baby said...

Y'know, it's not always the ones that excel at school that are the "smart" ones.

Great post!