Friday, February 12, 2010

Parenting advice?

I have just spent over an hour combing the library website for new resources for parenting Tessa. I have placed holds on books in the following categories:

- parenting only children
- parenting strong willed children
- seven year olds and their development
- discipline strategies for children
- how to keep cool when kids are driving (you) insane

I am a fan of the Positive Discipline series, and I've got Love & Logic on my bedside table.

Do you have favorite parenting resources? Websites, books, and the like?

When my current strategies fail, it's time to go to the library. Friends, anything to add?

Disclaimer: I am anti spanking, and that is my bias. I am comfortable with that position and not looking to change it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Homework Drama

Tessa forgot to bring her homework home last night.

I told her that we could go into school early so that she could do it. We got our carpool in early, and we went into the classroom, and tracked down her forgotten folder. I read her the instructions, showed her the example, and set her to work.

Questions. Complaining. Distractions. Talking to students coming in and out of the classroom.

The bell rings. No surprise - it's not done.

The school consequence for not doing homework is missing recess.

Tessa starts to cry, to cling to me, to say, "Talk to Ms. H! Tell her I tried!" I gently but firmly said, "No, you need to tell her. I did what I could to help you, but if you didn't get it done, that is something you need to tell her." More crying. Then, the punch:

"It's all your fault!" What?! "You didn't help me!"

Ms. H heard this and was NOT impressed. Tessa was sobbing and clinging to me and Ms. H just said, "Tessa, I'm counting to five and you'd better be at your desk." She got to 4 before Tessa let go, and I left the classroom.


Ms. H told me that I should let Tessa fail - if she doesn't do her homework, she does not get to come in early to do it. Okay, lesson learned. She seemed peeved with me for offering that as a choice for Tessa.

I feel like a D- parent right now.

Deep breaths.

I have moved Tessa's homework station into her bedroom; previously, she was doing it at the kitchen table so that I could be there with her. Me being with her is NOT an advantage, it seems: she has to do it on her own so that she is not tempted to ask me simple words that she already knows. She's got a beautiful desk, right under a window, with a drawer full of pencils and sharpeners and the like. She needs to do her work independently - maybe this will help?

I also created a homework contract with a list of responsibilities for parents and Tessa:
1. Will set aside time each day for homework.
2. Will make sure you have the right tools (pencils, papers, etc.) for homework
3. Will help you to read the instructions and answer questions about the instructions prior to beginning homework.
4. Will review homework when it is completed to help you with anything you struggled with.

1. Will bring home homework each day that it is assigned.
2. Will do homework independently.
3. Will finish homework promptly.
4. Will bring homework back to school and turn it in.
5. Will work with Ms. Hils if she does not understand how to do the homework.
6. Will miss recess if she does not turn in the homework or does not complete it in a prompt manner.
I created room for all three of our signatures, and tonight after dinner we'll go over it as a family.

I thought we'd been through all of this about 1000 times, but it is the first time I put it in writing. Will that make a difference? We will see.

Tessa thinks that I am somehow responsible for her success or failure. I am determined to be the best parent I can for her, to nurture her, but not to coddle her.

Parenting is hard! Homework is absolutely wearing me out. I thought we'd be having these battles in middle school....but apparently we're having them now.

I am determined to get this working. Determined.

P.S. Last night during her reading time Tessa read four chapters of "Mercy Watson" on her own, asking only for help with words like "absolutely" and doing the rest on her own. Why is she struggling with homework if she can read this well? I think it's discipline, not ability, or I'd feel much less frustrated. I don't care if Tessa is getting it "right," only that she works hard, and that is where she is failing.

Monday, February 08, 2010

This new plan is working!

I picked up Tessa from jump rope club, and talked to her about Valentine's day, and how I had the materials to make her cards all ready. She said, "But Mommy, I have to do my homework first." Yes, that is what we had agreed on....but I didn't even have to prompt her. HURRAH!

Edited to add: she has slowed down. WAY down. Will never finish at this rate.

Well, you win some, you lose some. It's still progress. At least she's not complaining!

Behavioral improvements

Since I whined and kvetched about Tessa, I should certainly state the good as well...

Yesterday, even though we had houseguests, and Tessa was distracted, she did her homework in reasonable time and without asking fifty million questions that she already knew the answers to. (I don't mind answering homework questions, I mind her trying to trick me into doing the whole thing for her.) We are really working hard to get her back on the right path, and with some success.

We have a ways to go, but the improvements make me happy. She's a wonderful girl, and I'm proud of her, and I know that this is just a bump in the road. (A tiring bump!)

Thank goodness it's Monday

When I was on Facebook, I would see various people counting down until the weekend; a common sentiment, and one I usually agree with. However, this weekend I was completely overbooked with a thousand different things, big and small, and I could barely find time to breathe.

On Sunday, the most important commitment was to go and visit my Uncle Mel in the ICU in Vancouver, B.C. (Canada). He was on a ventilator, in a medically induced coma, and when we got there he looked terrible; it was very sad. The docs made the decision to remove the ventilator to see if he could now breathe on his own (because a ventilator greatly increases the risk of infection), and while they performed this procedure we couldn't be there so we went to lunch. When we got back, he was on an oxygen mask, but upright in bed! I squeezed his hand and told him that I loved him and he looked me straight in the eye and said, "I love you too."

The rest of the weekend was a blur. Good things, but by Sunday afternoon I felt like jello only weepier. I had to cancel the last engagement of the weekend (sending Ryan and Tessa in my stead) and laid on the couch, regrouping.

And now, 'tis Monday, and a new chance to get things right. Laundry going, vacuuming completed, breakfast dishes cleaned up, and I'm sitting down to plan my week. This week, I'm going to be less hectic - that is action item number one.

(An aside: five years ago I could have handled the chaos without blinking. It makes me sadder than I can express that "normal" busyness can wipe me out so much.)