We flopped down on my bed and enjoyed an hour of quiet conversation. We talked about the expectations and responsibilities he has in this house - things he's not used to, since he was with his father for 6 months. I explained that his new chore of vacuuming three times a week is perfectly appropriate, given his age. It's time he earn his allowance for something more than keeping his room clean, and folding and putting away his own laundry.
We talked about how he's older now, and with that comes responsibility. He feels that when we make a request, it's a "demand", so I explained that a parent has every right to make demands of their children. It seems like he has an issue with semantics. He wants requests vs. demands. I told him that, either way, he's being told what to do, and while I try to say "please" when I ask or tell him to do something, I don't feel the need to treat him like a fragile little boy.
So if the way either the hubby or I phrase a request/demand is "You need to pick up anything you brought into the video game room", then that's that. Goodness knows my hubby's boss doesn't say, "Will you please paint that missile?" It's, "Callahan - the missiles that came off the truck need to be painted."
But Gavin doesn't like that. He likes sweetly-phrased requests as opposed to "You need to XYZ". Considering we use a completely reasonable tone of voice and wording to tell him when he needs to do something, I think he basically needs to get over it. Yes, we do use good manners and polite words, such as "please" and "thank you", but a "please" doesn't guarantee cooperation. I pointed this out too - that sometimes I can say "please" until I'm blue in the face, and he still wants to whine about something.
I think if we said, "Get your ass upstairs and get that crap out of the video game room!", he'd have a reason to complain. But since that's not how we talk to him... :P
We don't wait on him hand and foot. We expect him to throw away his own trash, clean up after himself, get his own breakfast, get his own lunch (within reason), draw his own bath, run his own shower, and more.
All pretty reasonable for a 10-year-old, I think. If he says he wants a snack, I say, "Then you may have one". If he asks, "Well, what can I have to eat", I say, "Look in the cabinets and the fridge." If he says, "I think I'll have some grapes", I answer, "Then you know what to do."
And he pulls out a bowl, rinses the grapes, and puts them in it.
Unreasonable? I think not.
He's definitely making that transition from eager-to-please little boy to pre-teen, wanting to do and sort stuff out on his own. Such is the territory with double-digits, give or take a couple of years. What I'm trying to do here is play on this "big boy" stuff, since he has informed me a few times now that he's not a "little boy" anymore. Well, big boys don't need, "Pwease, honey, would you pick up your twash? Oh, you're too busy watching cartoons? Well, let mummy do that for you. And would you like me to bwing you a dwink?"
No. I think, "Now that you are done in the video game room, you need to put your things back where they belong" is just fine.
Another thing we discussed was school. First, he told me he taught himself how to divide, because he felt like it. I thought that was pretty cool. I asked if they taught it in school and he said they didn't; he just sorted it out on his own. After asking him a few basic division questions, I found that, yes, he's got a grasp of what it is and how it works. I explained it a little more clearly (it's the reverse of multiplication) and promised to cover it this year.
Then he asked if we would continue 4th grade. I explained that we will start 5th grade. He told me he wasn't sure if his cerebellum could handle it. Wrong part of the brain, but that's OK. We'll correct that in our biology class, because I'm including anatomy this year. Plus, I got a kick out of the fact that he knew the word.
He said he wasn't sure he could handle 5th grade, so I told him we already did 4th grade last year, but that the school his father enrolled him in didn't care about his previous education. They placed him based on his age - not his ability or knowledge.
He asked if we would have recess and told me about the cafeteria food.
Alright, I was trying hard not to facepalm at that point. I asked, "Don't you remember what it was like to homeschool? It wasn't that long ago."
So he started telling me his ideas about how we should do our schooling. Basically, he now expects school-at-home vs. homeschooling. I told him I was open to his ideas, but reminded him that homeschooling is not necessarily like school. No "Pledge of Allegiance", no recess, no tatertots... But when he asked about "specials" like music, art and gym, I explained that we had always done those things once a week, along with nature study.
It was kind of disappointing that he didn't really recall his homeschooling experiences over the past 5+ years. Then again, maybe it's a good thing he never thought of homeschooling like school. I know he learned with me, and he learned damn well. He certainly had no problem internalizing and understanding his lessons.
So maybe, to him, homeschooling was more fun than anything...
He said he would want to complete all of his work as soon as possible in the morning, so he could do other things with his day.
AH! He remembers that! He remembers getting up in the morning, being able to tackle his computer-based work, then his workbook-based work and reading, and then the freedom that followed.
I told him his 5th grade year marked a transition into a new stage, which would include more in-depth and detailed work. I also explained we would put more time into school. I asked, "When you attended public school, you got up at 6:30 in the morning and when did you get out of school?" He said the day ended at 2:30.
"So that's 8 hours a day dedicated to getting ready for and attending school," I said, "not to mention homework. From the time you were 4, we've homeschooled, and over the past 2 years, it took us maybe 2 hours a day to complete all your work. Now that you're older, we're looking at closer to 4 hours a day."
I think that's when it clicked back for him somehow, because he said, "And with homeschooling, you don't have a room full of students - just me."
"That's right. Homeschooling is not like school, and it never really was in our house. It always took less time, and you were able to learn more, because it's just the two of us. I don't need to help other children do their work."
Once we're back in a groove in February, I think he'll remember. It's really unfortunate that his full 5th grade year was cut by half, after I tried really hard to plan a reasonable and comprehensive schedule for the 2012-2013 school year. I had everything written out for his father too, to make his or his wife's job easier. Too bad they suddenly decided this was a huge imposition, and that it was apparently "unreasonable" to expect a woman who came on as the "nanny" for a homeschooling family to actually respect that's how the family does things.
I'll salvage my son's education to the best of my ability between February and June, but if these public school shenanigans are pulled once again come August, it's only going to be a two steps forward, one step back kind of year.
Still... It's something and the year is young. ;)
Copyright (c) 2013 Wendy L. Callahan