Thursday, February 21, 2013

Parenting...tough stuff

It really isn't anything to get worried about, but being a parent is sometimes hard.  You try to be the best parent you can be, and then get information that you are probably contributing to the problem.  It is hard not to feel like a mini failure.  Our school has been lucky enough to have had 3 seminars with a very cool teacher, parent, coach, and tutor named Megan Stone.  She also has been working with the entire staff at the elementary school to coordinate a complete effort from home to school when it comes to basically empowering kids.  Her subject is called Tools for Schools.  Part of it is learning and teaching your kids organization techniques, but also just to key the kids into taking control of their schoolwork as though it is their job.  Actually, school is their job but it isn't something that they can just sit and enjoy, they need to be an active participant.  Where the parents (and me in particular) can throw a wrench into things is how much we take over things for the kids.  I solve problems, I set schedules, I remind rather than let happen what will happen in order for the kids to learn from their mistakes.

So last week, I heard basically the same message from two different sources that I need to let Trevor figure things out for himself.  This is NOT to say that I ignore questions or talk through issues with him, just that he is the one that has to come up with the questions on his own, if he gets stuck.  If he forgets something, gets a poor score on a test, or makes a behavior mistake, it is up to him to figure out how to change it for the future.

One of the big changes is having a weekly meeting, just him and I to discuss the next week of activities and homework.  It is a chance to plan out our next week, have him sync up his planner and let me know what he needs from me.  We also chat about feelings, highs and lows from the previous week.  This week he expressed his fear to me that I was trying to push him out of the nest, basically.  He said he thought he would feel very lonely.  I reassured him that I wasn't going anywhere, but that it is better to learn these skills now, especially how to remind yourself of something important, rather than continue to depend on me to remind you when I'm not going to be able to drive you to your job and remind you all the things you need for your events in your life.  But it was at this meeting that it was very evident how dependent Trevor had become on me.  And it was also then when I knew I didn't do a very good job at teaching him independence.  Now I know I'm not the worst mother out there.  Today on Dr. Phil there was a mother with older teenage kids that she still flossed their teeth for them among many other things.  So no, I know I'm not an extreme parent.  But today, it was SO hard to bite my tongue and let him go without doing a number of things that I constantly remind him to do.

Another thing that we are going to continue to work on is open communication between his teacher, Trevor, and I.  Right now, we primarily communicate via email, and now that Trevor has his own email, he will get cc'd on everything appropriate.  The only thing that may not be included are feelings that he might be embarrassed about that he would not feel comfortable directly talking to his teacher about.  Really, when you think about it, what good does a parent/teacher conference do when the child isn't there to contribute to the discussion or make plans how to work on his/her own strengths and opportunities?

So here we go.  On to a new place.  It is interesting to me that when it comes to teaching Gwen these same things, I feel as though she is already ahead of the game.  Although she doesn't have homework like Trevor does, she is much more willing to take charge of her things she needs to do for school.  Trevor was much more willing to let me help him.  I guess it is just the natural differences between the kids, but hopefully when Trevor succeeds with his tasks, it will cause him to take such a big pride in his work that it will be worth the difficult learning times ahead.  Only time will tell....

Friday, February 15, 2013

I've been away for too long

Once upon a time, I said that once the new year hit, things would slow down for me/our family.  Ah....such was the case years ago when the kids didn't have very many after school activities, or even had school all day.  But that isn't the case for us anymore.  I was looking forward to Trevor having religion class this year and Gwen will start next year, but it seems to throw more of our time away rather than being a good value for us.  Not to say we will forgo it, but it just makes us so busy!

So there is school, Chess club, piano lessons, swimming lessons, religion, hockey, dance, the request by the kids to do their after school program twice a week, homework and their own personal play time.  Gwen is the only one with time to get together with her friends, and it always happens during the mornings that she doesn't have school.  She doesn't have as much time taken up by activities, but rather than being run to errands all the time, she prefers to hang out.  I think they would be more likely to get together with friends if we lived in a neighborhood where the kids were within walking distance of a good friend.

But what has been going on with the kids over the past few weeks?  We had conferences, and the kids got their semester report card.  Trevor's was not surprising.  He continues to do very well academically, and needs to work on slowing down...taking his time...and really understanding what is being taught.  He has a wonderful teacher, and we are so blessed to have her willing to work with us to find out what works best for everyone.

Gwen...well, Gwen is Gwen.  Honestly, I was shocked at her report card.  After her fall conferences, I finally felt at peace with the decision to send her early.  She seemed to be fitting in both socially and academically.  Now...with the report card, I'm still not understanding how she could be doing so well.  They don't have grades.  They simply explain if she meets the standards for Kindergarten.  If she tests above those requirements, she can get an "exceeding expectations" score.  It is the same numbering score as Trevor, the simply have different requirements.  I made darn sure to not compare kids, especially since I don't want to make it a competition.  These kids are SO different.  But it seems as though Gwen is meant for school.  She is in a wonderful mix of kids, she is being challenged, and her teacher really enjoys what she adds to the mix of kids.  She loves going every day and talks about how she wants to go the entire day.  Hopefully we can continue the momentum next year.  That will be a very tricky thing.

After conferences, I went to Vero Beach, FL for a moms only weekend.  It was interesting to be away from the family during a somewhat busy time.  3 other moms and myself decided to stay at a very nice spa/hotel right on the ocean for 3 nights.  While we had no interest in the spa itself, it was such a nice hotel facility.  The offered free coffee and tea in the morning, hot chocolate early afternoon and wine in the evening.  The area of the city we stayed in was really quiet.  We found out the first few hours we were there, the city motto was: "Home of the newly-wed and almost-dead".  Because it wasn't heavy honeymoon season, there were a lot of elderly people there.  While we were there, at the hotel I think we came across 3 families, one of which were from Spain I believe.  They were European at least.  We had such a good time, simply laying in the sun, eating really good food, or enjoying live or DJed music in the local watering holes.  However, even there, we were lucky to see 20 other people.  I have no idea how these places can stay in business.  I guess they depend on the off-season slow down when they have peak timing.  We also stayed a block away from a hotel owned by Gloria Estefan.  If we ever go back, we'll have to look at that place.  But really, there wasn't anything to complain about.  We didn't have to worry about the kids.  We could simply de-stress.  And I came back completely de-stressed.  It was SOOOOO nice.  Add to it a few hot yoga sessions and I can continue the good feeling for a few more weeks until we go back as a family at the end of March.

So while this isn't a lot of new information, I figure I'd at least acknowledge that I need to get back on the blogging wagon.  Its time for the annual not-exactly-valentines-day-celebration-but kinda..... nice dinner and a movie!  Yipee!!!