I don't mind telling you that Rob has been driving me CRAZY recently. It is some comfort to be able to swap stories with my friend of many years Astarte, whose fourth-grader is pulling some of the same pre-adolescent stuff. Rob has been sighing, eye-rolling, door-slamming, talking about how things are NOT FAIR, acting like I am the only mother in the world crazy enough to insist on at least every-other-day showering, etc.
Also, we have forgetfulness/carelessness issues. Almost every day SOMETHING is forgotten at school: his coat, his lunchbox, his clarinet, his homework folder. He left his clarinet at school for THREE DAYS last week, then came home saying, "The good news is, I remembered my clarinet! The bad news is, I forget my lunch box. And my coat."
This week it came to light that he had lost his clarinet practice book days and days ago, and had just been TOODLING AROUND during practice time, and that furthermore he has not been practicing the songs even when he DOES have the book, and also he's been including the setting up and putting away as part of the 30 minutes he's supposed to do.
So since he wanted to act like he didn't understand he was supposed to use his PRACTICE BOOK when he PRACTICED, I've been sitting with him during practice time to make sure actual practicing is taking place. I'm not musical and can't read music, but even I know that when you play music you're supposed to play it on a beat, not "as fast as you can"; and that if you don't know the whole song, you can break it down into smaller parts; and that if you have a song to learn you should PRACTICE PLAYING IT as opposed to saying, "I don't know how to play it." In just two sessions with a non-musical coach he's gone from "Hm, maybe the poor guy has inherited my musical ability" to "Hey! He can play SONGS on that STICK!"
But here's the situation that's stressing me out most of all. He told me yesterday that in school this week they're doing a writing exercise in class, where they do three 45-minute sessions (one per day) on a larger writing assignment, with an outline and a draft and a final copy. They've done two of the in-class sessions so far, and he has NOT YET CHOSEN HIS TOPIC. This makes me hyperventilate. I think, "Why didn't he tell the teacher he's having trouble??" and "Why isn't the teacher CHECKING at each stage of this new thing??" and "Why doesn't he just PICK A TOPIC???" and "OMG is he seriously just sitting there staring into space while everyone else is writing??" and "What is he going to do NOW??" Today is the last 45-minute session, and he said to me that he was pretty sure he could just do the final copy. Yes, but he's supposed to be learning outlines and drafts, and also he STILL DOESN'T HAVE A TOPIC.
It is very hard to know where to draw the line with these things. At what point is is, "Well, he needs to learn to sink or swim; I'm not going to be able to nag him about his homework when he's in college," and at what point is it, "He's in fourth grade and still needs to be taught good work habits"? And then I look warily at the FOUR MORE CHILDREN I'm going to have to go through this with.
Life-improving products, part 4 - (Continued from part 1, part 2, and part 3.) Stearns Youth Life Vest (photo from Amazon.com). I’d been too scared to take the kids to any body of water oth...