Entering grade 9 was a difficult transition for me. I stumbled into new surroundings with more classmates, new teachers, and higher expectations. For anyone in the first year of high school, it is possibly their first major social and structural life change as a teenager, and it doesn’t come lightly. In my experience, I was able to pull together what was almost a lost semester. I set myself up to attain 7 of 8 credits, French being a grade too low to recover from. Let’s just say my friends use to call it a milk mark cause it was close to two per cent. I completed grade nine with 7 of 8 credits. I entered grade 10 with a plan to pick up the compulsory grade 9 French credit. That was the plan of the adults in my life. I planned to speak to my guidance counselor and get an exemption from the course. I didn’t want to face this challenge and risk failing once again. I skipped 17 of the first 18 classes, determined to prove I was incapable. I didn’t like being a grade 10 student surrounded by ‘minor-niners’. I always made it home from school before my father returned from work. This made it very easy to erase the phone messages that stated my absence from class. I thought I was getting away with it in almost criminal fashion. I set up an appointment with my guidance counselor. This was my chance to get exempt once and for all. He asked me to have a seat and pulled out my grades and attendance records. He acknowledged that French was not my forte but there was one problem; my father told him under no circumstances, is his son to be exempt for failing grades. I begged, and pleaded, but my dad held firm, and so did the guidance department under his instruction. A plan was created for me to meet with my teacher and iron out the details of how I can attain the compulsory credit. The plan required that I spend many lunch hours doing French work in a portable under my teacher’s supervision. I lost much of my social time to make up for my mistake. I didn’t miss another class, for if I did, I would not get the credit. I brought up the argument with my dad on several occasions. His response was always the same: Are you sure you want to be a grade 11 student in a grade 9 class? I quickly learned that he wouldn’t budge from his position. He took interest in my French work each day and asked what I am working on, always asking to see my work. Now that I am older, I understand that my dad was raising a son to be a resilient and perseverant man, who did not make excuses or back out of responsibility. I thank my father for taking a position that wasn’t about an academic credit; it was a lesson in character.
This story is from Celebrating Fathers: A collection of short stories by sons and daughters.
Author: Ryan McLeod