Towards the end of his freshman year in high school, our son came home with his school schedule for the following year and proudly announced that he was taking Japanese for his foreign language. Two years of language was required and he had just locked himself in. We were not as excited as he was about the idea, we had heard that Japanese can be very challenging, so we tried to get him to reconsider. Coleman was adamant, this was what he wanted to do, so against our judgment, he enrolled in Japanese his sophomore year.
The class was tiny, about seven students in all, with one being from Japan, and the teacher speaking broken English. The curriculum moved very quickly and in just a few weeks our son was in over his head. He learned a great deal about their history and culture, but the language was very complex. The bottom line is that our son didn’t pass a class in high school. He quickly changed his mind on learning the language and had to wait until his next year to switch to Spanish, where I am happy to say he has excelled.
As the parents we had the authority to step in and refuse to allow our son to take a class that we expected to be too much for him, but we chose not to. During that semester we questioned ourselves over and over as we watched his GPA plummet. We decided that the lessons learned from the experience outweighed the grades he received that semester. It was a time for learning for us as parents, as well.
Our son is still battling back to where his GPA once was, but today he has a better idea of his abilities and his limitations. Last summer he was on a plane with a Japanese family and introduced himself in their language. They exchanged a few words until Coleman had reached his limit, and the man ended up handing his toddler daughter to him to play together while in flight. The baby actually fell asleep on our sweet son, and he held her for much of the flight. There is no way the connection could have been made if Coleman had played it safe, and I think he would say that it was worth it.