Tag Archives: parenting

Innocence

I walk into a classroom. A different school than where I normally substitute. Hesitant. Unsure of this new age range. This age my son seems barreling toward all too quickly.

I never worried about him growing up in this relatively small population of our city. Nor have I ever questioned his place in our schools until recently. Yet for months now I am unsure of what he will face, if he is in the best place for these later years of his education.  For this child of mine who seems to break every mold anyone tries to fit him in.

I never wanted him to grow up innocent. At least not in a naive way as I did. Don’t misunderstand. I had a good childhood, but there are aspects I look back on and wonder if it was too sheltered.

But I also never expected for childhood innocence to be so quickly pushed aside for my own child.

When he spills stories of classmates speaking of gang association at only eleven. When bullies threaten him for any number of reasons. When he refuses to wear glasses because they call him a nerd.

He calls himself an artist and they laugh. His natural defense to argue and boast. Learning to walk away a hard lesson.

It is easy for me to tell him of how they are jealous of his abilities. Easy for me having experienced it and now with twenty years of perspective. That they are afraid to be unique.

So much harder for him to know that. To feel that in his spirit. In his soul.

He is a creative. Such artistic ability from an early age. And just like many creatives he feels things deeply. Knowing doesn’t necessarily become real until he feels it. And feeling it does not always appear until we wear the lenses of age and distance.

Oh how much like me he is in this way.

So I’ve found many deep breaths are needed. Groping our way along this liminal age. No longer a child. Not quite a teen. The time where pressure builds to fit in with the crowd. To be thought of as cool.

Yet I see underneath his wanting to remain true to who he is and his abilities. So we reach to learn how to find this balance and inspire the confidence. Confidence he needs to fight the fear of being different. To stand up to those who use hurtful words to compensate for their own pain. Entreating God to give him the gift of sight to see through his own hurt to theirs. To understand them.

Yes we will survive. At times I do pray God would write instructions on the wall. Preferably in a language I understand. How to inspire him and teach him. How to educate him best.

And I pray for just a bit more time. A bit more innocence. Trying to push away this inevitable just a mite longer.

What challenges are you facing as a parent right now?

Linking up with Peter Pollock for the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival: Innocence.

The Moments You Know You Are Doing Something Right as a Parent

Let's face it. Parenting is a roller coaster.  And there are moments where you are just tired of the up and down motion of it all. Come on. Admit it. Parenting is exhausting. But then that feeling, that affirmation that it is all worth it, hits you.

Children don't come with a handbook. That first year is amazing. The sweet baby smell, precious coos and smiles and laughs and snuggles. The chubby cheeks and giggles. Precious.

Then something happens and you wonder what happened to your sweet precious baby whose only issue was not sleeping through the night. They start walking and  talking and not just talking, but asserting their will and independence.

As a parent you have to find that balance of enjoying their amazing personalities and discoveries while disciplining them and training them. It's not always an easy balance.

And let's face it. It's the disciplining that takes all the fun out of it. Now if you are a parent who has an easy going, always follows the rules child then my hat's off to you. I myself do not have this child.

My son is amazing, talented, intelligent, talkative and a lot of times the most downright stubborn thing on the planet. Can anyone identify? He's either going to become a talented architect or one of the best lawyers you'll ever meet. The kid can argue for hours on end.

And guiding all that is a challenge. Don't get me wrong. I wouldn't trade it for anything, but there are times when the shear mental game of it all is about more than I can handle. I know some of you can relate.

But then there are days when something happens and you realize that all your effort, all your mental exhaustion, is paying off. 

Yesterday was one of those days.

As I walked out of school after substituting all day with Squirt by my side I asked how his day was. "Fine" he tells me. "But something happened that I'm really upset about."

"What happened?" I asked.

"Joe (name has been changed) had told us he would be checking out. When the office called for him to check out most of the class yelled 'Yay!' "  My Squirt was so upset that most of his classmates had cheered when this child was being checked out.

Sad, right? It certainly doesn't surprise me that children can treat each other that way. We've all done something like that at one time or another. But it is disheartening for the child who gets hurt.

At the beginning of the school year Squirt had a hard time adjusting to Joe. He calls him a friend, but will admit that there are times when he finds it difficult to deal with Joe's behavior. Joe is a unique child. He's smart and sometimes funny, but he has some special needs and sometimes the other children have a difficult time dealing with his behavior.

As he relaying the story a few tears fell from Squirt's eyes.

"Squirt I know you feel bad for Joe."

"Mama I don't just feel bad for him. I can't describe how I feel for him," he told me trying to hold back the tears.

"And you know Mama, tomorrow Joe will probably come back in with a big smile on his face."

I asked Squirt what that said about Joe's character? That if he could come back in smiling what did that say about his personality; did he think that being able to come back in not worrying what someone did to him was a good characteristic to have? Would that be something to admire in Joe?

He said it was, but he also voiced his worry that Joe might just stuff it back down inside him. Sometimes his insight astounds me. Remember this post?  I told him I prayed that Joe didn't "stuff it back down inside."

I HATE, HATE, HATE that Joe was treated this way. I wish the incident had never occured.  My heart hurt for Joe too.

But it was one of those conversations that made me think, "Okay. We must be doing something right."  I'm a proud mama for how his heart hurt for his friend.  I hope he carries that on into his teenage years. That ability to hurt for those who aren't always the easiest to love.

I don't want this post to come across in a prideful way. I am certainly no where near the perfect parent, but there are days when you struggle and struggle with this whole thing called parenting and you wonder if anything is getting through to their little minds and souls.

It was definitely an affirmation I needed. I just wish it hadn't come in the circumstances it did.

Have you had any of those affirming parent moments lately? Do you sometimes wonder if anything you are doing is getting through? If you do don't give up. When you least expect it you'll get a glimpse into their little soul and realize that everything you do is getting through after all.

Thank you!

I just wanted to say a big thank you to all the encouraging comments via here, facebook, & in person that I've received about my post this past Thursday.  Friday was a better day for both of us.

A Mother’s Frustration

I'm going to vent here for a bit.  Occasionally I just need to get things down on 'paper' so feel free to read, sympathize or don't.  Just don't judge.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Transition to 4th grade has not been the easiest.  Going from a class of 17 to 26 is quite a change. More children means more personality differences to learn to deal with. The teachers don't have as much time to give to each student and are under increasing pressure to teach all the skills they are required to teach. 

The kiddo has been struggling with behavior for the past couple of weeks. I know and the teachers have also said that he becomes bored easily. The boredom then leads to distracting behavior, complaints from other children, inattention, and a few grades lower than we know he is capable of.  

I am so very thankful he is a gifted and intelligent child. I don't mean for that to come across as conceited. Heaven knows I can't take credit for it. We are very blessed in that respect. But that in and of itself can cause issues when they are among 25 classmates who are on 25 different levels. He has wonderful teachers who do their best to challenge him, but getting it across to him that he has to focus and pay attention even if he understands the material quickly has been challenging these past couple of weeks. 

The educational system in general isn't fair to the teachers by overcrowding their classrooms. However the majority of teachers I know go above and beyond to compensate for this. I won't go off on all my frustrations with the bureaucracy and politics of our country's educational system for right now though.

His stubborn streak, which when guided in the right direction will one day be his strongest trait, isn't much of an asset right now. Throw a few strong headed children in one group together and disagreement is bound to rear its ugly head. And I wonder if to make up for his small size he tries to argue louder than others.

And yet, that's something they each need to learn — getting along with others and compromising.

Being an only child, the social aspect of school is just as important for his growth. There are times when I think how much more and all the enriching things I could teach him if we home-schooled, but the social aspect would be missing here in a small town with fewer opportunities for home schooled children. I am thankful that our system sees the importance of enrichment activities like foreign language, extra science and art.

But in general I think the higher level children are the ones left behind. I'm not saying any less time and attention should be given to the other children, but it seems so much focus is put on the ones struggling that the ones who are ahead are left to themselves in many cases. I'm not saying my son's teachers are that way. They are not. They do their best to challenge him and I am very grateful. 

After a meeting with his teachers this afternoon I am spent. Physically and mentally.  Not sleeping well last night didn't help matters either. I just want to go hide in a warm bubble bath.

Frustrated with trying to figure out how to guide his strong will, help him see the potential for becoming a good leader, how to discipline him, how to get him past the boredom, how to make him see that an argument isn't the answer to a conflict and that being a leader does not mean being the boss. And how to do all this while still encouraging his God given gifts and talents and individuality. It's just a bit much. I know it will pass.

It's brought me to tears a few times. I've disciplined and lectured until I feel I'm punishing myself more than him.  I question everything from how we've parented him to does he have ADD to what he eats. I truly don't think an ADD child could sit for hours and build lego cities or paint or read, but the thought does flit across my mind on occasion.  On the other hand I know I would not give him medications that haven't been around long enough for researchers to know what problems might arise years down the road.

If I'm honest with myself I'm also embarrassed. Do people see his behavior and think I'm a bad parent?  I also don't want him to have a reputation as a behavior problem causing others to treat him badly. He doesn't make friends easily and that can worry any parent.  I don't want him to grow up lonely and friendless. I will readily admit he's not the easiest to get along with.

I know this transition will take a bit of time. He will get there. He and I both will be okay. I know that. God isn't surprised by any of this. He sees the amazing person the he will become. I only see small glimpses. Small extraordinary glimpses I am thankful for.

There is a special education child in his class.  They have been classmates for 3 years now. And I am so proud of how he helps this other child and treats him. He is such a good friend, helping with his work and anything else. One of his teachers made the comment that she overheard this child tell him that he was his best friend.  I am so incredibly grateful for his tender heart toward these special children and I am so grateful for teachers that see that in him and praise him for it.

I am thankful that he is here to cause problems like this. I know many children are fighting cancer or lyme or disabilities. I'm not writing this to have a pity party or sound ungrateful or gain sympathy. I have friends who no longer have their children here on earth to become frustrated with. I know this little bump in our journey is nothing compared to those nightmares. 

Thanks for just letting me write my frustrations out. I know tomorrow will be a new day and with it a new perspective.  Sometimes it's just tough being a mom.