Friday, March 25, 2011

Something's Missing-- And I Think it's My Sanity

Okay, I have one child who seems a little, uh, SCATTERED lately. No spelling lists come home, so the child wings it on tests; the science project materials lean in a corner untouched even though the science fair looms. Looms!

A White Fang test tomorrow? Too bad White Fang is drooling or baying at the moon or doing whatever in the classroom at school but is not in our home for studying purposes.

Tom and I are handling this differently. He gets angry and all neck-bulgy when the kids says, "Don't worry, everything's going to be fine. I've got it covered." The kid, in turn, responds to the anger or attempt at control by clamming up and refusing to tell Tom what tests and projects are coming up.

I vacillate between sitting back and wanting the kid to have natural consequences (biting my tongue when the "F" on the Latin test comes back-- hey isn't this the same kid who got that nifty national Latin award last year?) and trying to help to the point of having to physically restrain myself from doing the kid's work for him. "Here, let's sit at the computer together! It'll be fun! You type one word, I'll type the next!" The kid responds to me by thinking it's okay to blow off work, because Mom will just find his supplies, give him a pep talk, and bail him out at the last minute anyway.

Oh, did I just say "him?" Fine, so it's obvious which kid I'm talking about. And in the time it took for the kid and his dad to discuss the finer points of remembering one's damn novel so one does not flunk out of 6th grade, his little sister had gone to the computer, googled "White Fang," and downloaded an audio version for our listening pleasure. Resourceful AND enabling! The seeds are planted so young these days!

While I am slightly reluctant to say this scatterbrained behavior could possibly be gender related, I will mention that I'm the only one in the house who is able to keep us in toilet paper or find the nail clippers.

Thank you.

BTW, I'm reading a book called Let's Talk Teens: 10 Questions to Connect Parents, Teens and God by Diane Overgard and Janice Rubin and it ROCKS! I fully expect to implement all of its great advice when I finish reading it, and after I drop off something my son forgot at school. Kidding. I think.


Kristina P. said...

I say take the natural consequences route.

katie said...

idk. this is a hard one. though i don't have teens yet, my 2nd grader is infamous for this and it makes me irate (in my head irate). if i freak out on her, then she too shuts down.

when they get older is what i'm worried about. my parents let the natural consequences take over and YES i did learn but not until after i graduated from college, after just getting by. i wished SO HARD that i had understood how important high school really is when it comes to good "patterns". i know that hind site is 20/20 but i wish that my parents had gotten after me a bit more.

i had a 4.0 going into my jr year but i had friends who were not good influences and so the intelligent katie just thought "to hell with it. this is a lot more fun" booooo!!!! i think kids live in the moment because they're ignorant.

anyway, good luck with this one! LOL?!? ;) xxxxx

Christy said...

Man, this sounds hard. I can't imagine having to deal with this in just a few short years.

Sounds like that book is helpful though.

AND - you guys rock as parents. Seriously. And they're great kids, so it will all work out...eventually!

aliciamarie911 said...

My parents are going through the same thing right now with my little sister. My little sister was just accepted into the Beta Club yet she refuses to bring her homework home and do it! They "grounded" her, but nothing seems to work. Hopefully your kids will spare you soon and allow you to regain your sanity!

Anonymous said...

Tricky! I don't know. This is one of those fine balance situations. You want them to do well, have good study habits, but also be able to learn from their mistakes. I think that if kids allowed to "fail", in order to learn a lesson, there should definitely be follow-up discussion about the consequences on them, on others, and then be there for them to provide support and structure, however loose or firm, for the next time.

In junior high, I had a storyboard book report to do, and I put it off because I couldn't get into the book I had chosen (National Velvet). The night before it was due, I ended up staying up all night to do the storyboard on a book I had already read (Trumpet of the Swan--there was a required animal theme). I literally did stay up all night, at 12 or 13, which is just sort of wrong, but my parents were unyielding about it giving me the okay to be late with turning it in. I ended up with a great project that was actually displayed in the library. But all I learned from this was that I had the ability to pull off something really good at the last minute. If I had turned in crappy work and my parents and even teacher had had a discussion with me about procrastination and coached me to choose the slow and steady route, I would have been better off in the end. Ah, hindsight.

But this is not about me. Great post, Anna. Keep us in the loop as you figure this out.


Ellen aka Ellie said...

I don't accept work that parents drop off. Mean?

My son hit this patch in 4th grade and then again in college. The latter was due to depression, so I cut him some slack on that, but still there were consequences.

In 4th, he used to leave things at school, and I would come home from work and drive him back. I realized that I was the one paying consequences, and I stopped taking him.

I don't know what the consequences were, but they didn't scar him for life. They also didn't spur him to change.

Academic eligigilty helped in H.S.

He's in grad school now. He didn't get into his first choice of colleges, but that was okay. Talk about a natural consequence. He skated through school until now, and now his peers are exerting pressure on him.

Don't enable him. You can't go to college with him...

Anonymous said...

Well... I WISH this was a gender related issue since I have 3 daughters. By my youngest is a counterexample to disprove that theory.

In 7th grade now, she just earned her phone back after going 3 straight weeks of being zero-free. Over the course of her education we have cycled from "let's do it together" to "natural consequences" to "punisher." There is no 1 size fits all for every situation. Really... is a missing practice log for band class as critical as a math assignment?

She is getting better. And she knows that she 1 year left in which to wean herself from my help. She can see that her older sisters are required to be completely self-sufficient. I remind her often that she doesnt need to be ultra-organized like some other people in this family... but she does need to be organized enough that her grades reflect her intelligence rather than her lack of organization.

Good luck :)

angie said...

thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment on my apothecary jar ~ i really appreciate it....yes, spring, please come soon!! sooo many projects on the to-do list!! :)

Brenda said...

If only we were the only people with influence over our kids. Look at his friends; are they doing (or not doing) similar things? It could also be as simple as a hormonal overload. Right now his brain is awash with the stuff. Or it could just be him. Some people are simply naturally lazy, and disorganized, and regardless of what you do, they can't change. Let the natural consequences fall as they will. Maybe if he is allowed to fail now,( and you can keep your ego out of the way) he will change.

Heidi said...

I don't have advice, but I just wanted to say ack! Like, ack, parenting is hard sometimes and if you figure this out let me know. I'm sure I could use the help.

kbfamily said...

I am in the same boat here. We homeschool but my son does take a few outside classes. It is a challenge to get him to understand the importance of completing his work. Recently I have begun to approach it from the viewpoint of school being a job. Finishing his work is the same as completing a job for a salary. His school is his job right now. He seemed to get that. We shall see if it sticks.

Kate Coveny Hood said...

I don't even know how I'm going to handle this as I was the child who sat and watched her mother write a 6th grade report on the human heart. I didn't want to do my own homework. Why would I want to do theirs??

And I'm off to a roaring good start by cleaning up all of their messes instead of making them do it because it's easier (and faster).

I'm going to pretend this subject never came up and go back to wondering how I'll get everyone out of bedtime pull ups. That is a much easier pill for me to swallow!

K A B L O O E Y said...

I have a comment, but feel compelled to ask Kate Coveny Hood to use the phrases "bedtime pull-ups" and "pill for me to swallow" in succession as much as she can. Because laughing is good for the soul. Also: I am your son. And I'm a 47 year old woman who was the queen of the incomplete and regularly asks her 6 year old to help her find her car keys, glasses, cellphone and even her boots (yesterday; unexpected cold snap). Sigh. Nothing ever worked with me.

purejoy said...

wow. parallel universe separated by about ten years. my son is yours as is my daughter.
i learned that a "mom?" at 8 pm on a sunday evening was invariable followed by a "do we have any poster board?"
he's now in college and doing well. but he's also lost his hope scholarship (by a whopping .6 points) to the tune of $4000 a year. yeah slacking has consequences.
he's always been time challenged and a bit scattered. the fact that he's ADD isn't really an excuse. he's not that bad (wasn't dianosed until college) and has some processing issues, but still… if he would just turn off the cell phone, computer and television, he'd do alot better.
it began in 3rd grade when his teacher began to enforce personal responsibility.
i think using some sort of a planner… on the wall or whatever works for him… is a good idea. most of what overwhelms ends up being time management. and self discipline…
i feel your pain. just try to find ways to empower him to make his own choices, but try to set him up for success. but avoid rescuing. it's so hard. but if he can learn this before high school where grades are the holy grail to college entrance, it'll be a good thing. good luck with that!

giselle said...

Is it a sudden drop in grades? Are there behavioral changes in him? If yes, then maybe something is bothering the kid.

gigi @ seminar table

anymommy said...

So hard. I have no idea, but I am so glad you're there first and I appreciate the book recommendation. Keep them coming!

Anonymous said...

I am totally in the "let them fail" mindset. I was the type of student who, when a long-term assignment was announced, would go home that evening and begin working on it... even if it wasn't due for 3 - 4 weeks. I am not type A, but I was definitely geared toward performing in school. My sons, however, are not wired the same way. It was a struggle with my firstborn (who has graduated from college with an engineering degree). I totally would drive him back to school to pick up forgotten homework. That lasted until middle school when I sat him down and explained to him that whether he did his work or did not do his work, it was his life. Unfortunately, if he did not do the work, he could not be graded on the work and therefore nobody at the school would know whether or not he understood the information. If he got bad grades, then he'd end up in the classes with the students who weren't there to learn... and that would not be a fun place to be... but it was his life and I wasn't bailing him out any longer. Period. There was no more yelling... I simply gave him his responsibility and freed myself and my husband from it. He eventually, totally turned around. He still has organizational issues, but he is out on his own, paying his own bills, making his own way, working at his own job. One thing I think we parents need to learn is that our children also have free will, and we can teach and we can lead, but we can't force... they need to make their decisions and face the consequences of those decisions. My son's failure was not a reflection on me as his parent.