First there was the battle of the Mythology assignment. Link gave me many reasons for why he didn’t need to do it: talking about Greek gods made him uncomfortable, the deadline was today, he’d already done enough work to rescue his grade from an F. I listened to his reasons and recognized them as “Do Not Want,” so we focused on the other assignment first. Also due today. I sat next to him as he wrote two paragraphs about faith in humanity and the holocaust while the history teacher sat at his desk, patiently staying late so Link could turn in the assignments before the deadline. We tackled the Mythology assignment too, and completed it.
Link was not done with homework. He still had some computer homework and an essay, both of which must be completed before the end of the term on Friday. Once home, we had a lively discussion about how and when we would tackle these projects. I favored “let’s just get it done” and Link favored “I’ll do it tomorrow.” We found a compromise. I call victory because, while the negotiations were tiring, they never became hostile. Link never tried to make me into the bad guy and he could see that I was applying pressure to help him. Conflict without acrimony, definitely a win.
Link was not the only one with homework, Patch had a small pile of his own. The moment I mentioned it he began bouncing around the room like a hyper squirrel. Again and again I brought him back to the task at hand, refusing to let him get distracted by the many things which were suddenly fascinating. Eventually I held him still, stared into his eyes, and pointed out what he was doing. There followed falling on the floor and moaning because all of the work was impossible. It wasn’t. He knew it wasn’t. I pointed out that he knew it wasn’t. Then I gave him a little mini-lecture on the value of being able to tell when something feels impossible, but is actually easy to accomplish. He didn’t get it. Instead of facing his stresses he keeps using humor to deflect them. Humor is a great coping strategy, but he needs to learn how to wield it in a way that does not frustrate people trying to help him. Thirty minutes later the ten minute long project was done.
Then it was time to detach Gleek from the computer to begin bedtime. Any time I have to redirect her I get “one sec” or “I need to do one more thing.” Left unchecked, Gleek will one more thing herself through two hours of continued play. I don’t want an angry argument. I would really love for us to move smoothly through the familiar steps of bedtime. But once I got her off the computer, she had snack and began reading a book. Then comes the struggle of getting her to put down the book to brush teeth and go to bed.
None of the afternoon battles were big arguments. I stayed calm and treated each one as a teaching moment. They were chances for my kids to learn self-management and for me to practice patience. I’m grateful I had the emotional reserves to stay in the teaching zone. Though I think I’ve earned my fatigue this evening.
There are signs that the lessons are beginning to stick. After I came upstairs from wrangling Gleek off the computer, Patch said “Is parenting hard sometimes?” I answered that yes it was. Patch nodded.
End of term is Friday. Patch has caught up on his overdue work and now we only have regular work to do. Gleek is having a light homework week because of field trips. We’re finding our way through.