My husband laments on a daily basis that he forgot we have cake in the house. It's his birthday cake. How could he forget? I don't forget. I eat a piece a day, with a cup of hot chocolate. Mmm...
Gavin is here and quite the "mother hen" to little Rowan. If I set her down so I can use the bathroom or get some laundry out of the dryer, or make lunch, and she fusses, Gavin goes to her side and sings to her. I tell him she's OK to fuss, or even cry, for a minute or two. I don't want him to feel responsible for her - he is only 10, after all, and having a baby sister does not turn him into a mother's helper.
If there's one thing I don't look at my children as, it's free manual labor.
So long as he understands that, then I'm fine with him trying to comfort his sister.
Today was our official, though extremely belated, not-back-to-school day. Monday's schedule includes logic, math, handwriting, spelling, grammar, and history. Gavin said he doesn't want to study any foreign language. First he wanted to switch from French to Spanish, but he's changed his mind entirely. I'm fine with that for now.
Unfortunately, he seems to have carried his bad habits from his father's house over to here.
When he's with his father, he tends to whine and complain about doing work. Sure enough, today he was negative, whiny, and complained that I "expected too much" and the work was "too advanced". I pointed out that he's capable of doing more and certainly of performing better. He muttered "I hate this" and "I can't do this" and "This won't help me write better" with almost every other breath.
Finally, I said, "You have two choices: spend all day in your room doing nothing, and for each day you choose to do that, I will remove something from your room - a toy, a DS game - as well as taking away computer and video game privileges for the day - or just get the work done. I'm asking for 3 hours of your time, not 6 or more. I'm asking you to do things you did in school when you were at your father's house. None of this is beyond your abilities. If it's advanced, it's because we're doing 5th grade. I'm not dumbing the work down to 4th grade. Now, make your decision - work or go to your room."
I was very calm, relaxed and straightforward when I gave him his options.
One thing I am keeping in mind is that this is a transition for my son. He homeschooled for 5 years, from "K" through "4th grade", until last year's shenanigans on his father's part. He spent the entire latter half of 2012 and most of this month in a very different environment.
During the past 6 months, he has neither grown nor matured. Any changes in him are not for the better. If he could have life his way, he'd ultimately get a head start on being a 20-something bum who lives in his father's* basement, and plays video games all day.
(*He sure as hell isn't welcome to stay in my home if that's how he's going to be in his 20's. College or work, kid. I expect nothing less.)
Maybe I sound like a hardass. That's probably funny, because I'm anti-spanking, and pro-attachment-parenting. But what my parenting philosophy boils down to is common sense. That's it.
I don't find it at all positive that, while at his father's house, Gavin wants privacy and just stays in his room, playing video games. That is not a sign of maturity or growing up. That is simply permitting him to do whatever he wants. I don't "do" permissive (which I equate to neglectful) parenting. I don't "do" authoritarian (which I equate to tyrannical) parenting either.
I do authoritative.
We have rules. Discipline is based on natural consequences. We step matters up to punishment if necessary, but expecting discipline in the first place should keep that from being an issue most of the time. I respond to my son, and I ask him how he feels and what he wants. I did that quite a few times today. But I also have expectations, and I don't baby him.
He can think for himself and make his own decisions. He said he wanted to continue homeschooling, and I expect him to make an effort.
This week, and perhaps even for a few weeks, I need to remember to be understanding that this is a change back to what is normal for him. As he told his paternal grandmother, "Dad spoils me, but mom doesn't."
It's a very different environment here. He needs time to settle in to his old routine. I think jumping right in to it is better than waiting.
At least he sounded pretty enthusiastic when he made his first reading choice for literature. We've cycled back around to the Ancients, but I added a few modern books to our list - books I loved when I was Gavin's age. He selected Robinson Crusoe, because a story he read recently had a character who had the book. I asked if he knew what Robinson Crusoe was about, and he did not. So I explained that it's about a man who ends up stranded on an island, where there are tribes of man-eating cannibals. We'll see what he thinks of it.
You know, I remember hating the phrase "needs to live up to her potential" on my own progress reports and report cards.
But now I understand exactly what my teachers meant...
Copyright (c) 2013 Wendy L. Callahan