Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Growing Pains

I admit it, I often wished my kids' babyhood away.  My sisters both have babies/toddlers and I am watching them with stark, raving, envy.  I thought that once the constant physical labor of having babies/toddlers/preschoolers was over that life would be so much easier and less stressful.  It is maniacally stressful to have a baby.  You can never tell for sure whether something is wrong or they're just having another freakin' growth spurt.  But as just this evening illustrates, the parenting stress just morphs into something new and equally as frightening as your children get older.  

This year I sent my oldest off to third grade, my girly off to second grade, and my baby boy off to half-day Kindergarten.

This afternoon, my friend and daycare provider confided in me that my youngest, Adam, has gotten off the school bus several times in the past few weeks with full on drag makeup all over his face.  He reports that an older girl who he doesn't know, has no idea what her name is, doesn't even know what grade she's in always has makeup with her and once asked if she could put makeup on him.  He allowed it and thought it was fun so now he's requesting to be made over on the bus ride home.  From the sound of it, Adam's care provider is worried this girl might be taking advantage of a cute, innocent little boy and having fun at his expense.  How do you explain this to a boy who just thinks he's getting attention and having fun? 

Next up is Ryann who is doing very well at school and is complaining that her work is too easy.  During a recent parent-teacher conference, we were assured that Ryann is in the correct work groups for her skill level.  How do you navigate that?

Finally, Max had a bit of a rough day today.  He forgot his jacket at school, couldn't find his math flash cards, or his spelling words, and forgot his lunch at home this morning.  Forgetting has become the norm for him and it is immensely frustrating for both him and us.  I try to use natural consequences when possible so if he's forgotten his homework, I don't sign off on it and Max has to deal with his teacher.  He was freezing without his coat today and I asked him to use his discomfort as a teaching tool and maybe he'd be more inclined to remember his jacket in the future.  But I don't want my third grader to get "bad grades" because of forgetfulness and I don't want him to be cold but I feel like it's the right time to stop doing everything for him.  How does a parent know it's the right time to loosen the apron strings a little?  How do we do it effectively and retain our sanity at the same time?

Anyone out there with the right answers, feel free to chime in!


Nikki Strackeljahn said...

I'd say talk to the school or ask how to get in contact with adam's bus driver to find out what the deal is there... Ryann - I'd give her work at home above her level and if she is able to do it, bring it to the next conference or request a conference with the teacher to discuss it. On Max is say it's just a matter of teaching him to slow down. Stop, think about what you need with you, then proceed. Maybe he needs a list he can visually see as a reminder by the door. Such as : back pack, coat, gloves, lunch, snack, homework, gym shoes, hat, snow pants...??

Grammie Pammie said...

I agree with everything Nikki said - and my two cents would be that Max is only in 3rd grade - seriously, he and the other two are still pretty much babies imo. I would also suggest to Adam that he not let that girl make up his face anymore because some people might not think it was cute or funny and might start teasing him about it which he probably wouldn't like much....once or twice with that is enough.

Lisa Frantz said...

I don't have the answers but just wanted to say that everything you are going through sounds very familiar. Dylan has the same issues as Max and I've been told that this is "typical for boys". We have implemented natural consequences, lists, did a behavior contract at school regarding his organization, and have even read a book about it thinking that there must be a magic answer. I wish I could say there was but we haven't found it so far :) I have asked his teachers about it, even considering that maybe he has some sort of processing disorder but they all say he is "normal" and "he's a nice kid":) I'd say just keep doing what you are doing. At some point things will click for them and then we'll both wonder why we stressed about it so much, right?

As far as Ryann...Allyson says the same thing about Math in particular. I agree that you could try doing other more difficult work with her at home. Maybe you could ask her teachers what websites or workbooks they would recommend? I'm sure they'd be happy to offer up some ideas. Most often parents only want to do the bare minimum, if anything extra at home.
I love your posts by the way! They make me feel really normal :)

Sheri said...

Thank you for the advice, gals. After crabbing at him a little last night, Max was super conscientious today and hardly forgot anything. I made sure to give him lots of positive feedback. Ryann had some tougher homework tonight so I think she's going to be fine. Adam told the "bully" on the school bus that he didn't want make up today and Max and Ryann sat near him to back him up. Today was a much better day.

Lisa - I'm so glad I'm not alone. And maybe we're both NOT normal together ;)

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