June 2, 2013 by Dragonfly Diva
Parenting. For me it is a can’t live without it activity. I never, ever imagined my life without imagining children in it. I went to school to learn how to teach, I taught grade school and preschool and coordinated early childhood services for infants and toddlers. Almost 14 years ago I gave birth to a child of my own. It has been the most rewarding activity of my life. Watching my son grow from infant, to toddler, to preschooler, to grade school and then Jr. High. And now not only do we sit on the precipice of graduation from Jr. High, and his fall entrance into high school, but we are now solidly standing in the teen years. And man is it a tough path to travel.
I swear! I don’t remember being this difficult as a teen. Was it because I was a girl? I’d like to think not as I shun believing that things “are” because we are one sex or the other. I feel sometimes as though no matter what step I take I’m hurling myself off the cliff into the abyss. That feeling where you don’t know if choice A or B will be successful and once you make the plunge you realize you were darned if you did, darned if you didn’t. Neither A nor B would get you to your goal successfully. Kind of a two steps forward, one step back, or to the side kind of progress.
There are three and a half days left of school for my son and this is the first year there has been a final test (Algebra I) and final essays (Language Arts) and God Bless Him, a history teacher who decided last Friday that they would do another test on the states and capitals (they learned this back in October). This last grade is probably to give the students who did poorly on the other three grades for the term (yes, only three assignments – one test, research for Civil War debates and the debates themselves) a chance to redeem themselves. For others, who are sitting on a decent grade – it means more work to make sure they maintain it. I mean lets face it, I’m an adult and I could not name all 50 states with their capitals. I could probably get the 50 states by counting while naming and then wracking my brain for the ones I forgot. The capitals, forget it! The only reason I know the capital of my own state is that I travel there for work regularly and the windows to our central office look out over the capital building grounds.
So as a parent I’m now sitting here, on my porch enjoying the wonderful Sunday morning cool weather and wondering how much pushing to do today. Don’t get me wrong, I should not complain as my son is a really good student, and the little daily homework assignments he does on his own, without organization support from us, but it is the big, long-term assignments or those dreaded writing assignments that he procrastinates on. Probably because he detests writing. Taking super awesome thoughts from his brain and putting them on paper in ways that match what he thinks is a super, super struggle for him. Grammar, spelling, punctuation – who needs that. Ask him to tell you why the setting in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is so important and you get a fluent, insightful dialogue. Ask him to write it down and it all goes haywire. And, he gets his procrastination skills through his genes – I frequently wrote 10-20 page papers for grad school in a day or two. Plus, he traditionally shuts down around the end of April. He used to be able to coast through to the end of the year, but now…not so much.
So, as I’ve done with just about every bigger project or assignment this year I go back and forth between trying to be the supportive parent, reminding, suggesting strategies, stalking him to ensure that his computer research has not taken a left turn at Minecraft. Removing the cell phone from his grasp, reminding him that the house phone works just fine for calling a buddy to ask a question about what this part of an assignment really means, etc. And the complete opposite, reminding him loudly that he KNOWS that every assignment is important, more important than playing a video game, he HAS the skills to do a great job and I’m washing my hands of hovering, as I walk away shaking my head. What would you do?
As I’ve typed I listened to him, taking an enforced shower (what is it with teens and hygiene anyhow???) and singing to himself, (but it’s filtering through the open window) his voice cracking as he tries to hit that certain key in the “We are the Champions” song. And my resolve breaks. I’ve learned through this parenting dance of life that I cave when it comes to my son. I will help him realize his best in the hopes that through each struggle he gains another modicum of skill that will support him taking on this responsibility more fully as an adult. I will help him find that inner champion that he sings about. Cause since the day he was born he’s been my champion.