We all make a LOT of parenting mistakes. We also like to share/air our failures. But did you see that video circulating on social media called “These Kids Finally Say What They Really Think About Mom. And Her Reaction?” Turns out our kids like us and are rooting for us. So, in an attempt to shift the conversation towards the things we are doing well as Mothers, I share this story …
One of my children hates school. I like to think of it as “He hates school right now.”, but it’s also entirely possible that this condition will persist for years to come. As someone who not only LOVED school but loved to play school after school, I have tried to talk him out his lack of enthusiasm like a Cheerleader trying to convince a Supreme Court Justice to join in a chorus of “Go! Fight! Win!” Untapped motivation isn’t easily stirred up by my words, or by his brothers who are humming along with me.
Most days my above average student with below average
motivation finds a way to muster the energy to get dressed and ready for
school. He’s always the last one out
the door -- perhaps hoping without hope that this might be the day I decide to
home school him. Other days it’s harder
for him to rally. There are legitimate
reasons for why he may not like school very much (learning styles, social dynamics), but those reasons are harder
to discuss at 7am and even more challenging when laced with comments like “School
is stupid. What’s the point of it
anyway?” That’s when Cheerleader often
goes Commander and I start to say supremely unhelpful things about going to
college, and getting a job and other stuff that shouldn’t be mentioned before
breakfast. Or EVER when in Commander mode. Then begins a slow moving,
steam-inducing, sometimes consequence-levied 30 minutes that ultimately nets in
my son making it to school, and me furious. As soon as the door closes, my fury melts
into regret and yuck that not only did I blow another opportunity to practice
patience but I’ve likely lodged an unkind word or facial expression that I won’t be
able to retrace.
This morning was one of those mornings where Commander Kate was invoked, but I didn’t bite. I didn’t revert to Cheerleader Kate either. Instead, I took several deep breaths and followed the lead of my husband whose approach on mornings like these is less talking, more doing. He’s all about forward progress – getting dressed, getting breakfast, and allowing the cyclone of discontent to do its thing without giving it any attention except to say the facts: “We are going to school.”
I can’t will my son to love school. I can only tell him that he has to go to school. (And help him work through the legitimate issues at a later time.) Gently. And guess what? Gently works. I saw it happen this morning. And while gently was doing its work, I left my post as Commander and took a seat at the breakfast table – clear headed enough to ask my youngest son, “Did you have any dreams last night?” to which he answered, “Yep. I dreamed that there were all these hotels with nice pools, and I fell in to one. It’s was deep, and I couldn’t swim. But then you came in and saved me. It started as a bad dream, but then it was a good. You saved me, Mommy. And then we stayed in one of the nice hotels, but one with a shallow pool so I could swim.”
See that. If I was following the cyclone around, getting caught up in it's energy, I would have missed this. This fleeting dream that likely would have been forgotten by noon. This voiced over dream that connected me to who my children say that I really am. A Mamma who loves them and would jump in a pool to save them. A Mamma that is still teaching her children to swim.
It started as a
bad morning, but then it was good. And without any residual yuck. A Mamma Bear Success.