I had one of those Mom-moments tonight with Peanut that leads to a little self-clarity. I’m doing what all mothers want to do, try to save their kids a little of the trouble we experienced growing up, things that, as we get older, we’re still trying to fix because we didn’t handle them when we were younger. Exploring a growth mindset and being Mindful have helped me with this a bit, and I’ve taught myself how to get a kid to talk about what’s going on inside their heads without feeling like I’m being sarcastic or ironic. Understanding yourself is the first key to being successful, knowing your reactions, knowing what you can control and what you can’t, and understanding how all of that comes together to create opportunities and causation is a powerful thing. I’ve been doing this a little with her every now and then for a while, but I think it’s time we make this more a permanent form of communication.
Tonight, I grabbed her homework folder and find 3 deficiencies that she hasn’t shown me, homework undone, papers not signed for… you know the drill with a ten year old. You try to give them independence, but not enough to allow failure. So, I laid these things out and we talked about them. Why was homework not done? Look at these test scores and how far away from the benchmarks you are. Why did this 45 question test take you less than 30 minutes when there’s someone standing behind you to help you slow down? Why is a kid reading on a 6th grade reading level NOT scoring higher on these tests? No, I’m asking HER these questions because it’s important that SHE figure out the answers. I know why it’s happening and it is the same thing happening in every classroom across the country… apathy. She knows she knows it, she doesn’t see why she has to prove it. Tests mean nothing to her, grades mean nothing to her, consequences mean nothing to her, except that there’s one she doesn’t want to experience…failure. She does nothing to stop it, however, so getting her see the path from where she is to where she can avoid it is what I’m working on.
Tonight, when she got angry that I checked her homework and pointed out her mistakes, she scribbled other things in the place of what I circled (that were also incorrect) and I made her do them again. Before I did it the last time, though, I made her answer this one question (under a pinkie swear that she wasn’t going to get in trouble for anything she said for the next 5 minutes): What are you feeling when you hear me?
She tried to shut me off, but the freedom to tell me I was being a pain in the neck is just too much to pass up. She very maturely told me that she didn’t like it that I checked her work and that she had to go back and do it when it was already done. She got mad when I told her that what she’d written down was wrong and that it needed to be corrected. Working from that growth mindset/educator place, I translated for clarity… “so, you don’t like it when I tell you that it’s wrong, is that what I’m hearing?” (no sarcasm, just clarity). After her nod, I had to admit something, out loud, so she could hear that she’s not alone. I HATE BEING TOLD I’M WRONG! Maybe it’s pride, I don’t know. How you say it makes a big difference, but being told I’m flat out wrong bothers me on so many levels that I can’t attack the problem until I get past the anger. I want better for her than that, so I tell her the truth, and my husband vehemently backs me up on it. However, just because I hate it, doesn’t make me any more wrong than I was before, and it’s that failure of understanding that leads to being right, later. Since later is my goal, we worked through the problem again and I showed her some tricks, which lit her face up like a Christmas Tree. I showed her that she was not showing anyone else what her father and I already knew about her… she’s freakin’ brilliant. SCARY SMART kid! She reads way above where she should be reading, but is restricted by her interest and what the stupid test says she’s capable of. The test is lying and she needs to make that stop, so she can get on to showing people how amazing her mind is.
Self-growth is a particular interest of mine for a bunch of reasons, not the least of which is my more recent issues. Being a better person, understanding how the person I am can effect the people around me, and using that knowledge to help them is what I’m here for.
There’s my Enlightenment for today. I found purpose and a little clarity, and maybe even a bit of peace in admitting to a personal failure of mine… I need to learn how to take being wrong more constructively and how to take criticism less personally. I sort of knew that already, but it went even deeper tonight. Through failure comes glory, right?