Thursday, September 9, 2010

Analysis of School Days

In the beginning women have these idealistic perceptions of what raising a child will be like.  When the bun is still in the oven it’s easy to think that everything will be perfect and that you’ll not make the same mistakes you see other people making with their kids, blah blah blah. 

What you don’t realize is that you’ll make different mistakes.  Or at least circumstances will arise that you could never have anticipated much less planned for. 

At some point women reach this point of no return, so to speak.  Maybe not everyone does but some of us realize the cause of an attitude or behavior and realize there is nothing we can do about it. 

Even with that realization there is also the comfort that it was handled well with no regrets except the lasting damage left behind. 

This is where I am. 

I hate that Gavin burned out on school a month or two into kindergarten.  I hate that.  I loved his first grade teachers.  They made school fun for him again.  They helped rebuild his self esteem.  He was successful in their class.  He has an amazing second grade teacher this year.  Her teaching philosophy is my parenting philosophy.  She makes learning fun and meaningful but she expects a lot from the kids.  She will be good for him this year. 

What’s hard about it is the homework.  I know I’m obnoxious when it comes to homework.  I don’t believe in it the way my current community does.  Gavin is doing well with homework, don’t get me wrong.  I guess what’s hard is the fact that his little brother doesn’t have any. 

All the way around this school year is difficult.  Parker doesn’t see the point of having to get ready in the morning if he doesn’t have to go to school in the morning.  Big drawback to afternoon kindergarten that I knew would be an issue but I didn’t get what I wanted.  Oh well.  I have considered raising a stink and getting him changed but he made a best friend on the first day.  More stay at home moms have kids in afternoon kindergarten too.  Lots of pluses to this annoying deal. 

So that’s a minor issue that won’t be an issue next year.  I hate having my day broken up into several 2.5 hour segments.  That’s hard but doable.  It’s the afternoons that are the roughest. 

Parker wants to play but he is limited in his choices because Gavin has homework every night without fail.  He gets tired of waiting for Gavin.  Gavin wants to play too.  And he knows how unfair it is that he has homework when Parker rarely does.  There is nothing I can do about it.  I can’t even say, “You had it easy when you were in kindergarten, remember?”  Because that is the furthest thing from the truth.  So far Gavin had the most homework in kindergarten, a lot in first grade, and what I consider a reasonable amount now that he’s in second grade. 

Any time I am tempted to wish that we blew off homework sooner in kindergarten I remember why we forced Gavin to do it.  Because we thought it would build character.  We thought he would develop a working attitude and understand the importance work has in this world.  We didn’t know we contributed to his burnout. 

Even if we had blown off homework sooner than the last couple weeks, it would have taught him really negative things.  And how would we have gone about reversing that negative attitude the next year when we felt the homework was worthwhile? 

Last night Parker was listing off his friends.  Gavin felt the need to compete so he listed three boys who were in his class last year but not this year.  I asked if he still played with them at recess.  The response was no.  He doesn’t play with anyone but there are a lot of kids around so it looks like he’s part of the group. 

Part of me was happy he at least attempts to blend in but part of me was mad that he has to.  He knows he has a socially unacceptable temperament.  He knows he’s introverted and that he would rather play alone.  But he also knows that this has been a source of contention since day one.  The fact that he is happiest doing his own thing bugs the crap out of people and he knows it.  He shouldn’t know that.  No adult should ever make a child feel like something is wrong with them because they aren’t like everyone else. 

I meant to tell him that he could ask to play with other kids.  That it was ok if he only had one or two friends.  The words that came out of my mouth were, “You don’t have to play with anyone if you don’t want to.”  I paused as if I might go on to tell him how to play this game of life and fit in better.  But I didn’t.  I simply said, “Ok?”  His face studied mine for a moment then it visibly relaxed as he said, “Ok.” 

I realized that was what he needed to hear.  That he is fine being Gavin.  I don’t need him to be Parker.  I love that he’s Gavin.  Yes, I cried many days in the summer as I felt suffocated by my bored children.  I cried because there was no one to call to play with.  I knew if I could just get through the summer Parker would start school and find all the friends his little heart could ever want.  That’s exactly what happened. 

I don’t even know what my original point was with all of this.  I’m just rambling.  I hate that Gavin is so burned out and jealous that Parker seems to have it so easy.  But I hope that he learns the value of work this year.  He gets better each year.  But kindergarten scars are still visible.  Perhaps they always will be.  For his sake I am angry about that.  Even though I wouldn’t have changed a single thing I did that year to deal with a teacher determined to break my child’s will.

It’s easy to wear a public face, even in the blogging world.  Maybe especially in the blogging world.  But everyone has something they are dealing with.  Everyone had a vision of what their life would be like.  We’re all trying to learn from our mistakes and circumstances we live with every day.  We’re all trying to understand ourselves and make lemonade with the lemons of our lives.  This post is a glimpse into some of mine. 

3 thoughts:

mintifresh said...

Wow! I think you said the perfect thing to your little man! It's such a hard time for the oldest when they think their younger siblings have it so easy and maybe they do but they did when they were that age, too. It's hard to know how to deal with it though. I hope this year gets better and better for him!

Ray Colon said...

Hi Tristan,

I've never heard of afternoon kindergarten. Morning half-day kindergarten can be difficult enough to handle, but that block of time in the afternoon must be a scheduling nightmare.

Yet, the true nightmare is the back and forth that goes on in the minds of parents. We question every decision that we've made and beat ourselves up if things don't go as planned.

Fortunately, children have amazing bounce back tendencies. They're usually not as fragile as we think, and they are really good at making friends -- when they are ready.

Trust yourself and the things that you do for them because you love them, they know it, and with your support, they will determine how they will find their way in this world.

I have turned out to be much less rigid with my daughters in terms of their homework than I would have imagined I'd be. Yes, I'm there to help, and yes, I insist that it gets done, but I recognize that they are not always up to the grind, so I cut them some slack on those down days. I think that homework can be useful, but often it looks more like busy work to me.

Just like you didn't know where your post was going, I'm getting the feeling that I don't know where my comment is going, so I'll end it here. :)

Ray

The Piquant Storyteller said...

Thank you Ray.

Being a parent is so much harder than I ever thought it would be. I am learning to not worry about what other people think of my choices because I know my kids better than anyone else ever could. It's still not easy though.

You're right about kids bouncing back. Thank heavens they are as resilient as they are!

I never thought I would be the parent I am when it comes to school but it's a difficult thing for me to deal with. Thanks for your comment.