My youngest son started high school this fall. I’ve written before about the struggles in school during junior high. He didn’t apply himself as much as he could. As a result, he missed out on participating in several things: wrestling, basketball, and other extra curriculars.
We made a deal over the summer that as long as he kept his grades up, he would be allowed to participate in whatever activities he wanted. And he’d be able to move into the basement bedroom. It’s a large room that his older brother used until he went to college.
Garris slept downstairs all summer, sort of a trial run. He had more privacy and a bit more freedom than his room upstairs. He had his own bathroom, adjacent to the bedroom.
We didn’t completely move him into the basement until about Halloween. At that point, he had kept his grades up, had participated in football and rodeo, and had agreed to a contract, of sorts.
He agreed to keep the bedroom, and the basement, tidy. He agreed to do his regular, weekly chores, without a lot of prodding from me. And he agreed to keep his grades at B or above. We talked about the bedroom being a privilege, and that his behavior with me needed to reflect a more mature tone.
Once we moved his brother’s things out of the room, and his things in, he started making the room his. And I’ve been pleasantly surprised at his level of commitment in order to keep the room as his.
He matured significantly over the summer. And although he still has his moments of child-like behavior, he has been trying very hard to get along with me, to do his chores on his own, and to do any additional tasks I ask him to do.
Yes, I have to remind him to bring his dirty dishes upstairs. And to bring his dirty clothes to the laundry room. I have to remind him about turning lights off when he’s not using them. But to be fair, I had to do those things when he was sleeping upstairs.
Bottom line: he knows what is at stake. If his grades drop, he loses the room. No second chance. If he’s disrespectful to me, he loses the room. No second chance. If he refuses to help keep the basement cleaned up, he loses the room. See a pattern?
He does. By giving him the responsibility of the basement bedroom, I’ve given him the opportunity to show me the kind of person he’s going to be. And I see a wonderful young man rising from the ashes of the little boy he was.
I was a little nervous about leaving him in the basement, because the television is downstairs. I had thoughts of him up all night and sneaking in more air time. But most nights, he’s in bed shortly after nine. Even on weekends.
If the rest of high school goes as well as this transition to the basement has gone, he’ll sail through the next three and a half years without incident. As his mom, I say, to the basement, young man!