Motherhood is a choice you make everyday
to put someone else’s happiness and well being ahead of your own
to teach the hard lessons
to do the right thing
even when you’re not sure what the right thing is
and to forgive yourself
over and over again
for doing everything wrong
I knew it was a mistake the minute I said it.
“Look how many checkmarks Little has on her schedule compared to how few you have.”
I do schoolwork with Little first, usually. For one thing, she has a sweet attitude and is always ready to come and get some one on one time with mama. For another, Big has spent the last two years working while Little mostly played, and he I think he feels like he’s getting away with something if she goes first while he is still absorbed in Legos.
Big’s attitude, on the other hand, is one we are working on. He moans and groans when it’s time for school. Every day starts with a negotiation – I’ll do this, but not that or if I do two of these, I get to skip all those. I usually arrange the schedule to allow for the wheeling and dealing. I’ve come to understand that he likes having a say in what he does, and if I agree to two pages of math instead of three (having only written two down on the schedule anyway), then everybody wins. And I’m fine with bagging the schedule entirely when he wants to spend an entire day researching and sketching geoducks.
But today, in an effort to motivate him a little by pointing out that his sister had accomplished a great deal in less than an hour (because she doesn’t harangue me until I wonder if a Law background wouldn’t have better prepared me for homeschooling), I made him feel like crap instead.
Cue gigantic meltdown, the likes of which we haven’t had in a long time.
At some point during his indignant, incoherent, choked-with-sobs-and-snot rant, I got it.
He couldn’t very well choose to do work he didn’t even know about, could he? All he saw was that I brought out subject after subject, and he had no idea how many more subjects there were, or how much was expected of him in each one. He didn’t have any opportunity to prepare for the workload or to feel satisfaction at how he was progressing.
I understand he needs a voice in his schedule, but somehow managed to create the exact opposite result. The endless negotiating? It’s now blindingly clear he was only trying to assert some control over his workday.
And as for the checkmarks on the schedule…. I’m the one who decided to take a week off to focus on Math flashcards. I’m the one who didn’t get the whiteboard set up for proper Spelling lessons until a couple weeks ago. I’m the one who blew off three days worth of work so we could make 367 notebooking pages about mollusks. I’m the one who allows myself to get battered by the negotiating to the point where I don’t even bother bringing out the Vocabulary book.
No wonder he was indignant.
Happily, the solution occurred to me the minute I understood where I went wrong, and I did not have to lay awake all night, alternating between puzzling it out and berating myself.
He gets his own schedule.
A less detailed version than my master schedule, but his own nonetheless. I am going to list out what I expect him to accomplish in a week and let him go at it however he chooses. We’ll see how that works.
I have high hopes. In spite of being annoyed with myself for not realizing all this sooner, I feel blessed. For I have glimpsed, once again, a little further into the heart of my boy. My boy whom I love.