When I was a kid this time of year always seemed like a new beginning to me. I returned to school, with a fresh mind, a willing heart, and a glimmer in my eye. Often my hopes were dashed by 3rd period, but this did not keep the post holiday after glow from returning each year. I have since transposed this yearly hope shot to my son and my outlook on his education. Each year he’s been in school this time of year has often spelled a new beginning. This year, with things being the way they are, I’m not so sure.
This is the first year that he had work to complete and turn in over the holiday. A science project specifically. A science project that he left all instructions for in parts unknown. This slip in consciousness had me emailing, texting, calling (technology I tell ya!), and hair pulling until we finally came up with a full set of instructions. A tedious 3 days later we look at a project that was complete, but definitely not what I would have him hand in. I decided to let it go because while it wasn’t what I think he was capable of I watched him work. He was definitely putting forward his best effort.
He would stop to ask me to repeat instructions again. He’d work a little more, then stop again, and ask me what I thought…again. I began to realize that he was working to make me happy. To satisfy what I thought was right. When I took a look at the whole process it dawned on me he’d sought my advice down to the medium he chose to use to create the project. It made me incredibly sad to watch this kids scurry around trying to get it just right so I would approve. This was not the parent I wanted to be, but it was the parent I’d become. Somewhere along the line I’d stripped my child of the ability to stand confident in his own decisions.
That’s the shit that sticks with a kid into adulthood. I know because I am/was one of those kids. At 34 I still feel more settled in decisions that I make that my mother agrees with than ones that I make that she doesn’t. What’s crazy is even when I am 100% correct in my decision I still doubt myself. Example, I refused to get Zion a PSP for Christmas because of his lack of effort in school. She disagreed. She felt that since she’s never penalized us for Christmas that I shouldn’t penalize him. I sat for about two weeks in a mud puddle of guilt and frustration, but I didn’t buy the damn game! I also didn’t provide him with a lavish Christmas because it wasn’t warranted, and it would have reinforced some behaviors that for sure didn’t need reinforcement.
Thank the powers that be for growth. To think, if I hadn’t done some growing up and out of this codependent pattern behavior, I might not be writing right now. I might not have chosen theatre as a career option at 30. We are not our parents. Our children are not us. I want nothing but the best for Zion, but there is going to come a point (and I feel it’s coming soon) that what he feels is best for him and what I feel is best for him is going to veer off in different directions. I have to accept it or the next few years are going to be hell on earth. Hence me letting his science project be exactly what he made it. His.
He went to turn the project in today. So many of the kids hadn’t done it that she gave them until Friday to complete it. It figures. He brought it back home and resigned to start over. I gave him total autonomy, but advised that if his second draft failed to be completed the first one would have to do. Maybe I’m letting go too much. I’m not sure how involved I should be. This whole business is like stumbling around in the dark to find a light switch in an unfamiliar space. Hopefully I’ll just stumble along and not bust my ass completely, and pray god, avoid causing any permanent damage to Zion’s tender developing ego.
With a lingering hint of after glow, and hope that this week’s testing turns up some answers to Zion’s educational woes…