Relationships require work. They are not things that magically materialize. They are things created and sustained through work. Hard work. And as with any job, there are the less-seemly, the less-pleasant aspects that sooner or later must be done. I tackled such a task recently.
It had been a long time coming. 75 days in fact. And though I cannot put my finger on what finally triggered my response, it happened, and it was long overdue. I finally called them out. I finally took the necessary risk.
John and Mike (names changed) for the better part of the year had managed to do very little. I knew it. They knew it. Not sure their parents knew it–really knew it, but it was time to face the reality. It was time for a hard conversation. It happened during the second day of the Night final last week. As most know, the kids were able to seek help and get feedback on the final. As such, all of the sudden, John and Mike were awakened to the fact that they couldn’t easily skate outta this one; they’d have to produce something. And they seized the opportunity to get help, which was great, until help quickly turned into “write my paper for me, Sy.” One, it was obvious they had not read the book. Two, because they had not done any of the practice essays, they had no clue how to proceed independently. Three, they were taking valuable time away from peers who had actually read the book and completed the practice. Four, I found it distasteful that they were trying to BS an essay on Night. And so, enough was enough. Time for the hall.
And so, we sat and had a real–a tough–conversation. I will spare the details. But I took a risk. I bluntly called them out, and I made them mad. I had to. I told them as much. I told them that if that’s what it took, I would pay the price. When the dust finally settled, I offered an opportunity, an opportunity for them to redeem themselves, to salvage something from the predicament we found ourselves in. It was too late to read Night. But they had both seen the movies–this I knew. So, I presented them the opportunity to use one of the movies with the same prompt for the final. I told them that I wanted the introduction in hand Monday. They delivered.
Years from now, Mike and John will likely forget the details, but I hope they remember the moment. And, when they do, I hope they do not remember it as “Syrie made me write the essay.” I hope they remember it as “Syrie gave me a chance.” I will remember it as “Syrie took a chance, a risk,” I hope it’s one that pays off in the end–for all of us.
Happy Wednesday, all.