Thursday, October 1, 2009

one at a time

You know you're in for a day when you look at the clock and see it is 8:37 am and think, "That's IT?!" *sigh*

Every now and then one of the kids will say, "Hey mom?..." and I will pause briefly and think, "Wait, me?" And my mind flashes back to the bazillion times I started a sentence out with those same words and knowing that my mom was my mom and moms know stuff. And then I snap back to the present and I feel a huge weight as realize that yes, I am the mom, and yes, they think I have the answers (let's face it, I often do), and yes, there's always more laundry, more messes, more whining.

That weight felt especially heavy this morning as I read a return email from Ainsleigh's teacher confirming that she is having the same difficulty focusing and staying organized and completing her work at school that she is at home. I was hoping it was like Donovan - at home he's wild and crazy and a bit of a turd (albeit entertaining), but in a classroom setting he's actually quite calm, a natural leader, and very attentive and respectful. Ainsleigh...oh Ainsleigh. I love this little girl so hard that I'm getting choked up just remembering how I sat down with her this morning (figuring this conversation would be better with a well-rested Ainsleigh) and casually asked her about her desk (messy) and her focus and her schoolwork. She's not dumb. She knew where I was going with it. And soon her distinctive lower lip became more prominent, her eyes seemed to double in size and began to blink widely, her skin seemed to fade so her freckles and eyelashes were exaggerated, and as she curled her knees up under her chin and hunch her shoulders, her features all began to shrink and I felt like I was telling my baby she wasn't good enough. You ARE good enough, Ainsleigh! You are my smart, sweet, wonderful girl! I don't CARE about school stuff, I care about YOU! I wanted to shout all of these things loud enough to erase the previous five minutes. But instead I cried.

This sucks. And how am I dealing with it? By crying. This comes after a particularly difficult week of homework with her where I've discovered that as long as I sit right next to her and point to individual problems, she can do it just fine. She can totally do flashcards like nobody's business. But stick those same problems on a page with 20 other problems and her eyes glaze over and she begins whining about how hard it is. I can't sit next to her at school and point to each problem and remind her to focus. So this morning we talked about how most things in life, like doing puzzles, reading books, folding laundry, picking up her room, all have to be done ONE AT A TIME. If you look at the whole project at once, it's overwhelming and sometimes scary. But if you put down that one puzzle piece, read one page, fold one shirt, pick up one princess, and then do that again, it will actually go a lot faster and you'll realize you can do things you didn't think you could.

And I suppose that's my problem right now. I'm looking at the big picture and how I'm failing her and she's destined for a life of chaos and underachieving. I guess I need to focus on each day (or even each hour) and what I can do to help her with *this* concept or *that* lesson. Because the fact is that she's really quite bright and her creative skills are way above average (did I mention that Joel took her to the Denver Art Museum last Friday on her/his day off? how many 7 year olds do you know who are perfectly giddy at the thought of spending a few hours among modern and contemporary art?). I need to take it one day at a time. Or, in today's case, one hour at a time. We can do this. We're *that* good, Ainsleigh.


janine said...

hang in there. you'll get it worked out!!! it's such a pitty that our schools are geared toward ONE kind of student. the kind that does well in math, english etc. and conforms in every way. i feel like so many kids get lost in that mold.

right now i am teaching a few kids with special little boy is autistic. i love him to pieces. and you know what? he is a musical GENIUS!!!! sometimes i wish that those with creative skills were more rewarded especially in the school setting.

TheKunks said...

hehe, I would have found it hard not to laugh too. Guess I can get over not having a boy yet. Thanks for the humor. Your blog is great!!!