Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Donovan vs. me (spoiler: I think I'm losing)

In all the excitement of leaving for California the day after school let out, I completely neglected to document Donovan's advancement from kindergarten to first grade. I suppose it isn't really that big of an accomplishment (come ON) so much as a milestone. And right now, I really need to find a reason to celebrate this kid.

Or else I might kill him.

NOT REALLY. But maybe a little. *enormous exhale*

The summer between kindergarten and first grade for Ainsleigh was tough, but I had also just given birth to Gemma, so my memories can't be entirely reliable. I wasn't sure, at the time, if it was a product of just getting older, or having a new baby, or what. This time around, though, there's no baby or hormonal mother to blame.

He's just driving me crazy.

What positive spin can I put on this? Let's see...I applaud his expanding vocabulary. I admire his ability to hatch ideas and lead others. I love that he has a vivid imagination. I am impressed that he understands the concept of bargaining.

That's what a delusional mother would say. I'll say: He's talking back on a scale that makes me reel. He second guesses me and does things I've specifically asked him not to do. His room is a constant disaster, and that spreads to the family room and out into the back yard. I cannot count how many articles of clothing I've plucked off the back lawn in the morning after being soaked overnight by the sprinklers (are my children running around naked, or did they start off the day overdressed?!). And finally, he tries to bargain EVERYTHING.

Recently, my method of discipline has been to start decreasing his bedtime. If he's acting up, I'll say, "Strike one." If he gets three strikes, his bedtime goes from 8 to 7:45. Three more strikes, and it's 7:30. This has only happened a couple times, and it's pretty much the worst thing that can ever happen to him, especially since most of the time that 8 o'clock bedtime usually stretches to 8:30. So it's like he's in his bed an hour earlier. Sunday was particularly horrific. He got down to 7:15. At 6:50 I offered to play games with him, but at 7:15 I said it was time for him to go to his room. He didn't have to be in BED, per se, I just wanted him out of my area. I was worn out (maybe partly because the day before I had run 9 miles and then mowed the lawns and done yardwork, etc.). But this was still not ok with him. He launched into his, "But WHY?!?!" And I try to calmly prompt him to remember. Because he knows perfectly well WHY he's in there.

After a while, I finally gave up and said, "Look, Donovan. Some parents spank when their kids do something wrong. I don't know what to do that would be effective for you, but I don't want to spank. So I'm left with taking away things you like. Maybe the next time you get a warning you'll remember how awful you feel right now and that will help you make better choices."

He paused, mid-sob, cocked his head to one side and hiccuped while replying, "C-c-can you spank and then I can go to bed at 8?"

It's kind of funny, in retrospect, but at the time I just hung my head and cried. "No, dear. I can't, and you can't." I was done.

Monday was better. We've re-instated the chore chart that evaluates his attitude. If he can get 20 days of smiles (no change in bedtime), then I will read the 4th Harry Potter book.

I suppose this is all part of growing up. And that's what this kid did this last year. He's learning to read and write, and he is wonderfully obedient and prompt and responsive in class. He had a phenomenal teacher - just thinking of her makes me tear up.

For a birthday party at the end of the school year, he made this card. He had minimal help (I think I helped him spell "great" at the end) - I suggested he just write "Happy Birthday, from Donovan" but that wasn't acceptable in his book. I like how he started with giant headline-letters, then went to neat printing:

This summer is quickly flying by. School starts in three and a half weeks. WEEKS. Like the half marathon I'm training for (like how I need to mention that?), each week I have to push a little harder, a little farther. I might have moments of exhaustion and pain and nausea and doubt, but I'm getting stronger and better. I'm talking about training AND mothering. An earlier bedtime for me, as well, would probably help.

When Donovan stood up at the graduation ceremony to say his part, "Z is for first grade ZEST; we're ready, have no FEAR!" I realized the part that I feared wasn't the first grade, it was the zest, and all that comes with it.

That's how I put a positive spin on the summer so far. Donovan has been full of zest. Mercy.


Sarah Burgoyne said...

Oh my gosh, the suit is killing me! So adorable.

Allison said...

So I talked to Mom tonight and she asked if I knew you put up a kindergarten post when I did mine--no I did not. I hit post and then saw that you had done the same 27 minutes earlier. And then blogger wouldn't let me see yours until now.

We did that a couple of years ago posting about Dono's and Mabes' defiance. I'll have to figure out which posts, but it was kind of funny how they were doing the same thing. Today, I could have written the exact same thing--the backtalk, the bargaining, the attitude; thankfully no clothes in the backyard...yet. Her sweet moments are great, but the bad--ugh. I didn't want to get worked up again posting about it, so I just left today's post with kindergarten. But I feel ya.

Let's ship them both off to Grandma's. She can send them out back and they'll just chase each other around that circle, talking back to each other, copping attitude, and yelling "poopy underpants!"

The Learner said...

Ok that makes me feel better as my two oldest have been wired (and I just thought it was from all of the sugar their Grandpa brought them). Maybe there's more to it ;)