The Zion Chronicles: …and we’re back.

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…

Rosie.

The Zion Chronicles: Throw everything at the wall…something will stick.

Today finds me in a very reasonable non-desperate place in my parenting situation. I’m truly grateful for this. What we’ve been up to? Well, much of the same. Threatening. Screaming. Yelling. Punishing. Sighing. Crying. Sadness. I got profoundly sad, then depressed over my son and his inability to “get” it. I spent about a week or two in bed feeling sorry for myself and my ineffective parenting skills. I wallowed. Oh how I wallowed. I found no point in going on. I felt worthless. I wanted to die (no bullshitting). I. I…was the most self centered muphucka on the planet for two weeks. The bottom line is, they aren’t my grades. I don’t have to suffer any of the consequences of them. My job as a parent is to guide and to be there when needed. Both of which I always do, even at my most paranoid and overbearing.

We stayed in the fight. Even when we hated each other, because honestly looking back over the last few weeks; I’m not sure if I wouldn’t have run away or gone emo if I had me for a mom. In the midst of our everyday grind something came to me. We hadn’t played, genuinely played, for a very long while. Maybe because somewhere inside me I felt that I wasn’t doing my job if I allowed him to goof off. What I didn’t think about is that I was doing him and our relationship a severe disservice. Play is JUST as important as work. When I took an honest look at my child’s life I saw that it was mainly work with scattered instances of play that I would stifle as quickly as they arose. What an f’n Scrooge I’d become!

So, I as an experiment (we’ll see how this works folks) decided to play a game with him for 15 minutes for every homework assignment he completes. This accomplishes few things: First, It allows him a break. Second, it allows me to play with him and give him the time with me that he clearly wants (as can be seen by his eagerness to complete assignments per they’re requirement so we can play) and I get time with him, which I want :). It’s been pretty cool so far too!

We’ve been playing Table Topics (which I didn’t initially think he’d like, but it was what was here). If you’re not familiar with Table Topics it’s a game that’s basically a stack of questions that the players go around asking each other. Some are about life experience, others about thoughts on topics, dreams, aspirations. It turns out Zion loves this game. He digs finding out things about me and telling me things about him (he actually confessed stealing a power ranger action figure when he was younger!)

Sidebar: I am having him tested for a learning disability. He resents me a little for it, no matter how much I explain it doesn’t make him stupid, but he’s a kid. I get how he feels. No one wants to be different. As a parent though, I MUST be sure all my bases are covered to ensure he’s getting everything he needs from his educators (and hell yes you have to jump in with both feet when you’re dealing with CMS!)

I can’t say what any of this done for his grades yet (with an overall more healthy emotional well being I’m sure they will at least stabilize, I pray!) I’m seriously trying to let that go for now, but it’s worked wonders for our relationship in just a short period. I’m also doing a lot of work on me. So I don’t take his comments, rants, and attitudes personally. So I don’t feel like I have to fight every battle tooth and nail. So I don’t feel like I have to physically assert my dominance when he’s just doing the things kids do. I won’t be disrespected for sure. However I don’t have to disrespect him to gain that respect. Pretty good feeling.

Yes, I’m still here. Still in it, but now working with my son, instead of against him. It’s working. For now.

Rosie.

The Zion Chronicles: Slap goes the two piece

To give you an example of just how damn QUICK it gets on and poppin’ between my loving son and I:

Friday afternoon. An easy pick up day as the weekend is upon us and there was no need to deal with homework right away. Wait? I’d already said I wasn’t anyway. So there really shouldn’t be an issue right? Ten minutes into our car ride I remind him I had a show and see if he still wanted to go (as he said he wanted to earlier). He says yes, so we head off to get some subs before I’m called. We get said subs, everything is going great and we strike up a conversation about acting.

I have always said and believe that my son is a stronger actor than me. He just has an ability to shed fear instantly when faced with an audience that I have yet to acquire. He says he didn’t know I felt that way. I once again acknowledge what I’d said. Then I’m not sure if he starts to analyze any of my prior performances in his mind, but a second or so later he tells me that he’d noticed how nervous I’d always seemed on stage. I, having to perform that night am not stomaching this too well (maybe I would have at a different time, but not just then. Alas children have no filter.) I ask him firmly and repeatedly to not use my compliment as a weapon to make me feel bad about myself. He glares at me momentarily, and as I’m asking him to confirm that he won’t he refuses to open his mouth. I told him since he can’t answer me he could stay home because I didn’t need to bring that type of negativity with me to a performance.

(side note: This is a pet peeve of mine. Why the hell do people always want to stir up some unresolved whatever or some new bullshit right when you are about to do something major?! Aarrgh!)

I let it go with little struggle, and even managed to turn on some music for the remainder of the ride home. We get to the house. He rushes out of the car, and speed walks to the door not wanting me to get the opportunity to unlock it. He bangs on it so his Grandmother will answer. She does. He jams through the door. She give me the “What-happened-now” face. I tell her what happened and mean while Zion has descended upon her left over two-piece chicken and biscuit from lunch. Like his Mom he’s an emotional eater. I tell him point blank to put it down and that he doesn’t get to pig out because he’s pissed with me. He chooses to ignore me and attempts to brush past me still snacking so I slap it out of his hand. It felt pretty juvenile, and it was a direct response to how disrespected I felt and how furious I was (I even made him pick it up 😦 ).

That is the kind of stuff that I want to stop doing, and I know if I keep acknowledging the behavior and trying to make changes those changes will assuredly come.

Keep dancing, singing, swimming, praying, and waving your magic sticks for me.

Rosie.