Thursday, February 08, 2007

More Bad Mothers

An update on the earlier post:

I'm sitting at the desk again, but this time my shoulders are shaking with laughter. It's sad, it is, but oh... let me tell you what I'm talking about.

Well, it's the essay writing thing. #1 Son had to do his homework at the dining table, where he got distracted by every little thing, including other people's homework. He did ask me for help on an essay at one point, and I think I helped clarify things for him. His biggest complaint (i.e., explanation for his behavior) is, "I can't think of anything!" As in, I can't think... at all... do my work for me! I had him read the assignment to me, and the questions he was to answer were extremely clear and detailed. I love that about his school. Maybe he needs more room for creativity, but he denies this. He did figure out what to do next, and he kept going.

Anyway. So later he remembered that "Mommy" will be calling back this evening in response to his request that she come help with some dissection next week in his very first class of the day. He called and asked her even after we figured out that, to do it, she'd have to leave her house before 5 a.m. that day. To be safe, closer to 4. He didn't see this as a problem. She said she'd think about it. So tonight she called back and he told her about the pink slip. He started crying again and went into his room to continue the conversation, which apparently was more of a tirade on her part.

After a while, he came out and (with a smirk!) handed over the phone to The Man (TM). Oh joy. I listened while folding the laundry. I wish I could repeat it word for word; even this end of the conversation was hilarious. The upshot of it was: No, eating more snacks wouldn't help #1 Son do better in school. He does the same stuff no matter whether it's first thing in the morning, right after lunch, or anytime else. Yes, he has the same chances at success as the other kids. More, actually; he's in a special writing tutorial several times a week where he can get help on his assignments. So, no, it's no one's fault but his own. Yes, glad to help.

#1 Son took the phone back, retreated to his room to cry and get yelled at some more. He eventually told her, "Look, I really need to get back to my homework now" (which I'm jumping up and down and cheering about on the inside), hung up, and got back to work. Good boy! I started helping TM with his homework. A few minutes later, the phone rang again. It's her, of course. She had time to talk it over with her husband or a friend or someone and had more to say.

Not long after, we heard #1 Son repeating "I'm a smart kid," (pause) "I can write well," (pause) "I can think up things to put in essays"... over and over in a monotone. I looked at TM in wide-eyed horror. "She's having him do affirmations!" I hissed. "What?" he asked. "You know, 'I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and...'" He finished for me: "And gosh-darn it, people like me!" We couldn't help it; we collapsed into hysterical laughter.

A moment later, #1 Son said (probably repeated, actually) in a suspicious tone, "What are you guys laughing at?" Well, TM had to explain that there was this guy Stuart Smalley on Saturday Night Live, and he was pretty funny... He didn't get into specifics, but it seemed to satisfy whichever of them was asking. We couldn't stop laughing for a long time after, though, at the idea that she was trying to help him get his assignments done by distracting him from his assignments to repeat this stuff over and over. Now I'm a really bad mother, aren't I? Oy.


Jen said...

Ok, that Stuart Smalley thing was funny!

I'm sorry you're having a tough time with all of this. But, you're not a bad mom. A bad mom wouldn't give a hoot about how her kids were doing in school! Being a good mom doesn't insure the kids will do well, but it does mean that you will worry about it and try to fix it. :-)


Renee said...

I agree with Jen.

#1 has chosen to allow his homework to pile up. too bad the teachers/school don't notify the parents sooner...but I guess it's the whole responsibility thing...which at his age he should be capable of.

That Stuart Smalley thing was funny. Do you think #1 fell for it? I don't think Stuart ever did.

Jack said...

My oldest (13) shuts himself in his room when we don't have anything for him to do, the TV's off and it's not mealtime. Sometimes he reads, I suspect that sometimes he's playing his PSP despite his "electronic gaming" allotment being all used up, but it's harmless so I don't worry about it too much. Don't know if it helps at all to hear that other kids do the same, but I guess a need for privacy is just part of adolescence, right?

I vaguely recall doing similarly when I was that age. I didn't think of it as seeking privacy at the time, I didn't feel like I was closing out my family . . . my bedroom was just "my space" and I felt comfortable in it. I mean, where else was I going to go read? The living room? Yeah, right. I mean, okay, if it's important to Mom, then maybe. You know, just once.

Of course, the whole "not doing homework" thing is a different issue. Hopefully forcing him out of that comfort zone until he catches up and keeps up will work for you guys. Sounds more promising than self-affirmations.

Scone said...

Interesting, Jack. I hadn't thought about his spending time in his room in a negative light. I spent most of my time in my room while I was growing up, and even after I got out on my own. Heck, I'd do it now if I could. So I don't have a problem with #1 Son spending a lot of time in his room or having privacy while he talks to The Evil One.

I just wish he'd do his homework. And if you haven't seen "Warrior of the Lost World" (linked in post), you really need to. :)

dorothy said...

what a sea hag! A self affirming sea hag!

you are not a bad mom. You are encouraging excellence, and he is rebelling into status quo (less than, actually). It's simply a way to express all of the complex crap going on with him.