The other day, I had an explosion. Shortly after this explosion, I had an epiphany. Of all things it began while WC filled out his valentine cards for his class party. There are 18 kids and we had 16 valentines. So I asked him, “We have 16 valentines and there are 18 in your class. How many more valentines do we need?” It isn’t question that is beyond his capabilities. I genuinely expected an answer back rather quickly. And was floored when he began to stutter and grow frustrated with me. His immediate reaction was that he didn’t know and there’s no way he could possibly figure out such a complicated question.
I attempted to clarify the question. No go. I asked him to count from 16 to 18. He started at one. I tried to correct him to start with 16. Next thing I know we are in a shouting match and I pop him in the mouth with an open hand for screaming at me. This silences him, of course. And in anger, I unload on him just how frustrated I am with his issues. How I don’t understand that he can’t see how smart and wonderful he is. I will not narrate my entire rant. It was not my finest moment in life. But, when I was done, I knew that I was in the wrong. What I had done would not help his self esteem issues. Even though I can’t figure out where they initially came from- it doesn’t matter. It was my frustration in my inability to help him. It was my frustration at how much of my own childhood lack of self esteem that I see in this child.
I am his mother; it is my job to bring him up with a healthy sense of self worth. And I’m failing miserably with him. It has to change. I have to change, as a parent, as person. I had put to rest all my childhood issues during my 20’s. I don’t want him to wait that long. I’d recently received his mid-year benchmark test results. The benchmark test is where they give the exact same test at the beginning of school year, midyear and year end to gauge their progress. Well, on his was a note from his teacher that he didn’t even try. From the test score, I’m betting he only got his name correct. If you didn’t know this child and judged on the score alone, not only did he not learn anything new, he’d forgotten everything before that. When, I asked him about it, his response was, “Well, she said if we didn’t know it to just guess.” Of course, since this child operates under the assumption that he doesn’t know anything, in his mind she just gave him permission to guess every answer. This is also weighing heavily on me as he clams up and refuses to even attempt to answer my valentine question.
In the aftermath of my explosion of frustration, we spent some time on opposite ends of the house. CJ, who witnessed the whole thing, tells me that he is angry with me and retreats back to his room with his brother. I agree with him. Then I go back, to apologize and tell him that I was the one in the wrong. At the door, I hear him talking to CJ. He states that no one likes him. CJ immediately replies, “I like you.” WC then points out that CJ said he didn’t like him when he broke his balloon. CJ then says it was okay. WC tells him that he still upset about his best friend moving away (right before Christmas). Okay, I’m feeling lower than shit right then. I go in to face them.
That afternoon, I began to search for books that could possible help. I needed to learn new ways of dealing with them. That day’s events led to think about what all had been going on. The more they “misbehave” the more of tyrannical dictator I was becoming. I’m spending what precious little time we have together on weekdays, barking orders at them. The more I bark the worse they become. This is not the life I wanted. I’m not being the mother that I wanted to be. I settled on a book after reading excerpts and reader reviews of numerous items. In this entry, I am not going to post the name of the book just yet. I have not gotten all the way through it or tried out enough of the suggestions- yet. I’m going to do everything that I possibly can to change the way that I mother my kids- Even if I have to put aside my own personal pursuit of becoming a published novelist for a little while. Even if my blogging schedule is delayed between posts. I’ve spent my lunch break researching websites on kids self esteem and raising happy kids instead of how to write query letters. Right now I have to put WC on the front burner of my life and make sure that he is getting what he needs most.
This post is running long, for me. I do have a story about using a method from the book I’m reading. I will save it for next post.