Give It Your All

by Mariann E. Danko

“The average person puts about 25% of his energy and ability into his work. The world takes its hat off to those who put more than 50% of their capacity into their work, and the world stands on it’s head for those few and far between souls who devote 100%.” – Andrew Carnegie

Besides the weekly task of waking my walker and battle to cut back on video game/electronic use, I also struggle with trying to impress upon my son the importance of not just showing up. The importance of giving your all, not just enough to get by.  This is a huge frustration for me because I can see my son’s potential. Potential just wasting away with each passing marking period. The issue has been getting progressively worse since middle school, and with his freshman year in high school it has come to a head.

Snoozing TeenHis grades are see-sawing and he’s carrying a “C” in his engineering elective class. A class I figured he’d ace because it’s hands on and he loves building stuff.  At first I thought the “C” was an indication that maybe engineering really isn’t his thing, even with his Lego junky disposition. Since he was a toddler, he has been building sets well above his age level. Engineering just seemed like the perfect fit. How could I be so wrong? It wasn’t until I had the opportunity to speak with his engineering teacher that I found out it was nothing like that. My son does get the material, he just doesn’t give it his all and it’s not that he doesn’t enjoy what he’s doing, he does. The bottom line, he’s become academically lazy. He starts out with gusto, but fizzles out three quarters of the way through. His follow-through has become a follow-stop.

A habit that is getting increasingly worse as he gets older and one I believe has occurred because in his elementary days he was never really challenged and didn’t have to work hard to get good grades. He never really learned how to “Give it his all.” because he didn’t really have to. When he hit middle school, more was expected of him, and at times there was evidence of more effort, but in general, he found a way to just get by, even though his teachers and myself told him this will come back to bite him in high school. He needed to pick up his game and change his habits before he got to high school, otherwise he will fall behind and end up playing catch-up.

Now, all our predictions are coming true. Although he may still be getting A’s and B’s in his academic classes, he’s had more and more poor test grades, especially in math, which used to be one of his top subjects.  Eventually this will trickle into his final grade if he doesn’t wake up soon. He is actually getting help with math after school so he can get caught up. His mid-term exam was horrible. This is a first and a major red flag, not just for me, but for him, because he thought he did fine on the exam.

BestI’ve been trying hard to step back and not be on him about his school work, but a situation like this can’t be ignored. On more than one occasion I have explained to him that the habits he forms now will be with him his whole life. He needs to get on track now or he won’t get into the college that would allow him to have the career that he wants. Trying to get through to a kid who’s maturity level has not quite caught up to his intellect is a real challenge. Like a typical kid, he thinks he’s got plenty of time. What he doesn’t get is the longer he hangs onto the bad habits, the harder it is to change. He has to treat his school work with the same level of attention and detail as he does his electronics/video game world. He’s on top of every update, new ap, new game system or game. He can go on for hours in detail about these things, but when I asked how school was all I get is “Fine.” I know better though, if it was fine, there would not be a “C” on his report card, poor test grades and recently a series of missed assignments. So much for the catch-all, check list system he implemented with his tutor. It only works if it is used, correctly and effectively.

With the start of the third marking period, I knew I had to find a way to get through to my son on another level. The concept that his lack of follow-through now will effect him later, just wasn’t sinking in.  With the back half of Season Five of “The Walking Dead” in full swing and the stakes even higher than any other season, the examples of the consequences of not following through play out every Sunday night. The gang of exhausted survivors spend every day forced to give it their all, to follow through, otherwise they may die. It’s a matter of life or death.
Tyreese and Martin
Season 5, Episode 9, “What Happened and What’s Going On” (How appropriate. It’s exactly how I feel.) gave me all the fuel I needed to push this issue. (Note, spoilers to follow.) As Tyreese Williams (Chad L. Coleman) sits bleeding out from a walker bite, he begins to hallucinate and see other characters who have passed. One of these characters is Martin (Chris Coy), a creep from Terminus, who Tyreese should have taken out when he had the chance. Martin berates Tyreese saying that had he killed him he would not have been able to lead the Termites back to Rick’s gang at the church, which eventually leads to Bob’s (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) death and the loss of the church as a safe haven. Bob was Tyreese’s sister Sasha’s boyfriend, so this hits home. As the hallucinating Tyreese ponders these words, contemplating the domino effect of his lack of action, Bob appears and tells Tyreese that he was bitten prior to this and was going to die either way. This doesn’t matter to Tyreese. Martin’s words and continued badgering are all he hears, which leads to Tyreese giving up the fight. Why bother to stick around if he can’t follow through when he needs to?

Carl and creek walker

This triggered my son and I to discuss other episodes that featured the lack of follow through, and the devastating domino effect of events. One of my favorite examples happened in Season Two, when Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) took Daryl’s gun and went wandering through the woods, pretending to take out walkers. Unfortunately, when he does come upon one stuck in the mud along the creek bed, he taunts the walker, but doesn’t kill it. This walker eventually breaks free and ends up attacking Dale Horvath (Jeffrey DeMunn).

andrea-philipA major example of lack of follow through was Andrea (Laurie Holden) stopping herself from killing the Governor (David Morrissey) when she had a chance. This had repercussions and ripple through that effected the entire group. Her lack of completing the task not only leads to her own demise, but the death of Axel (Lew Temple), Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson), the fall of the prison and later the death of Beth Greene (Emily Kinney). (Had the gang not been forced to go on run after the fall of the prison, Beth would not have been taken by the Grady Hospital group, which leads to her being shot by Officer Dawn Lerner (Christine Woods).) Not to mention the deaths of some of the nameless survivors at the prison and Governors followers.
Rick and Shane with Randal
We even considered Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) lack of follow through with the proper handling of Randall (Michael Zegen) as what lead to Shane’s (Jon Bernthal) death and the fall of Hershel’s farm. Shane may have been spiraling into a dark place, but Rick’s decision to let the group vote on whether Randall live or die, was all he needed to take things in to his own hands, which lead to Rick and Shane’s fight. Forcing Rick to kill Shane and Carl to shoot Shane when he turned. The gun shot lead a horde of walkers in the direction of the farm and forced the gang on the run.

These examples may be quite extreme, but, in reality, my son should be looking at his performance in school in the same life or death way. His academic/career life. We may not be living in a zombie apocalypse, but, the world is highly competitive and the only way to come out on top is to “Give it your all.”

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Walker, 2015. All rights reserved.

The Walking Dead photos courtesy of AMC
Best Clipart: Michael Brown c/o
Snoozing Teen Clipart: Andrés Moncayo c/o