My daughter is twelve, and she keeps falling behind in school, despite the school giving her tools that should keep her on-track. I think the problem is that she's just like me. My wife had great study habits, so she can't identify with our daughter's struggle. I can empathize, but my teachers, parents, and self couldn't break me, so I don't have any solutions to apply.
I'm forty years old. When I was in school, I was very intelligent, but I think that because I rarely encountered anything that took more than a few minutes to learn, I stopped putting effort into schoolwork. I was stubborn to the point of self-destruction. I would read a 300-page book in a day.
Now I see all these traits in my daughter. She rarely leaves the house without a book. The school has issued each student a planner to keep track of assignments, but she doesn't use it unless my wife is standing over her, telling her what to write. She tells us that she doesn't have any homework, but when my wife checks up on it, there always seem to be late assignments. (The school basically has its grade-book available for view on the Internet, so we don't have to wait two months to find out when there's trouble.) My wife isn't willing to let her fail, because she wants her to go to her alma mater, Scripps. We had her going to a therapist for a while, who gave her a diagnosis of OCD/Anxiety. I can see the OCD tendencies (I think that I have it worse than she does, but I haven't been diagnosed), but in my opinion, the therapist inordinately focused on a phobia of bees, which my wife and I had been barely aware of.
We can't figure out what to do, and I worry because I have seen the trajectory that my life has taken since I was her age:
In English class, I refused to write papers, resulting in consistently failing the classes. When I did write a paper, it was great, but more often, I would sit late into the night in front of a typewriter with a blank sheet of paper (or later, a computer with a blank word-processing document), and when I would finally go to bed, it would still be blank.
Without passing English, I couldn't graduate from high school. Near the end of my senior year, they told me that because I wasn't making meaningful progress in that area, I wasn't welcome back for a fifth year, in case I was considering it. Instead, I took the embarrassingly easy GED test. I also took the SAT, getting a 1500 (when 1600 was the maximum). I requested an application packet from MIT, but I never sent it in, because I didn't have any money, and refused to ask my parents for the $50 application fee. I didn't go to college.
Instead, I spent years doing only temporary jobs, and spending the rest of my days in my room, playing computer games and reading on BBSes. Eventually, my parents tried to impose a token rent on me, but they couldn't follow through with any consequences when I failed to pay it.
After a few years, I met my future wife, and tagged along when she started renting a tiny three-room cottage. I provided meager amounts of money, mostly by collecting unemployment and selling plasma, until she helped me go from a menial seasonal labor job to a menial year-round desk job at the same company. For a while, I was productive. I even got an "outstanding performance" award. But for the last ten or fifteen years, I've been increasingly unhappy.
As I observed to my wife recently, "If this was The Sims, about now I'd be thinking, 'well, I fucked up that one; nothing left to do but wait for him to die and see if I can do better with his daughters.'"
So anyway, that's what I'm trying to do here: help my daughter not turn out like me. Maybe some other time, you guys would like to try to salvage my own life.