One of our shared goals for the summer is to complete a workbook called Brain Quest. She enjoys working at it, and I like it as it adds an academic thread to our activities until school starts. So many topics are covered that will help her going forward – from punctuation, cursive, grammar, story construction, basic math, time, and money. Originally, we were going to do seven pages a day, but we got off track, as one does in the summer with mega-playdates. Imagination takes precedence.
Knowing the summer will pass, though, I got back on the horse, recently.
Only thing is, I have this problem. I get impatient with repeating myself. Now, this is, admittedly, not the best quality when you’re the parent to a young child. Seeing shoes dumped in the middle of the floor for the thousandth time… I struggle with that. Bowls by the TV, clothes on the floor, the back of the car left in disarray… no, Bryon Katie, it’s not my forte to just go, “Oh, it just is.” It’s more like, “HOW COULD THIS BE?!! Haven’t we talked about this FOUR THOUSAND times?!!!”
You get the point. Not that original. Most parents can relate. Those who can’t are either not that involved with their kids, don’t mind living in a pig sty, have another parent in the home to hand things off to when they are tired or frustrated, or just plain annoyingly perfect. Not I.
So, yesterday, I set a goal of us doing 10 pages. It was a bit of a disaster. She continually was not reading the directions well and would start writing.
Me – “You’re just guessing! Read the directions! It’s simple and clear.”
Or, she’d lose focus and just want to guess at things. Scribble, scribble.
Me – “Don’t just guess. Think! Use your smarts. Capitalize the start of a sentence!”
Well, I got into a frustrated, impatient place, and she was feeling off course, even crying, at one point. I thought of a parent I know who told me once, “I realized that I can’t help my child. I just don’t have the patience for it.”
I realized that I just form expectations. My mind is saying, “She should get this. This is basic. She should…” I needed to let go of my expectations and accept where she is with something. Why?
1. She is fundamentally bright and will get it in her own time.
2. What I think should be easy after enough explanation might not be what comes easiest for her given what intelligences she scores highest at. Ultimately, I want her to spend time in her life doing what she does best, so I don’t want to ‘beat her up’ for things that don’t come easily and won’t matter much in her future.
Ultimately, you can only control your own behavior as a parent. I apologized for getting in a frustrated place, and we hugged. Then I got an idea. Instead of just writing the date when she completes a page, she could award me a Peace symbol at the top of the page if I had been peaceful and supportive during that page.
We ended yesterday on a positive note with her wanting to keep trying and me scoring a couple Peace signs.
Today, we did five pages. I got five peace symbols. Only on one page did I feel that impatience bubbling. She noticed and quickly intervened.
Her – “Daddy, breathe. Breathe in, breathe out.”
Me – “Okay, I’m good. See, Daddy can change. I changed from eating a ton of sugar to barely eating any. And, I’m getting good at this now.”
I think it’s important to show your child that you can stumble and that you can make changes.
We were both positively thrilled with our accomplishments today; she with her completed pages and I with my Peace symbol scores. On the last page, she drew a large one and turned it into a person.
I pumped my fist.
Me – “Yeah! Peace symbol city, baby!”
And, I guess she was happy with my shift, too.
As I was writing this, half hour later, she walked by to use the bathroom hands in the air saying…
Her – “Woohoo! Daddy got five Peace signs!”
She had no idea I was writing about it. Nice.