Thursday, January 8, 2009

"Why do things always have to turn into a battle with you?"

I remember these words coming out of my dad's mouth often in relationship to my sister and I as we were growing up. And now, I am wondering the same thing with my son.

It was an exciting day. We found out that Z was chosen to be in the spelling bee next Wednesday at school. He even got to call me from school to tell me at work. Such a big deal! And I made a big deal of it then and on the way home from school, asking how he was chosen, what he had to do on that day, wondering who else was on the team, etc. When we got home the conversation, I immediately turned to practice and how he would get prepared for next week. He said that he had already read parts of the spelling bee book when he was at his Before and After Care program at school and studied them. That he would study the whole book like that. I told him that when he works on his normal weekly spelling list, he writes them all out, and we usually ask them out loud. That he remembers them better that way. Simple statement.

And then a NO from him.

Let's try again. Z, you do better at your spelling words when you actually say them out loud and at the spelling bee that is how they will test you is to speak them. With your voice. Standing straight up and looking them in the eye. And yes, you will practice them out loud tonight and every night. We need to help you prepare for this and you may not do it all alone.

Another NO. And then a battle and long conversation about attitudes. Then I called a restart. I had him apologize to me (something my dad made me always do that I hated!HA!) and then I grabbed him by the hands and danced around his room, yelling and laughing and celebrating that he'd been chosen to be on the spelling bee. We talked about other things for awhile as he put away his clean clothes in his room and calmed down together.

Then we had the discussion again about practicing and doing your very best especially when you have been chosen for a specific job. That his team would be depending on him, etc. I made him (and me) talk as the ideal situation would have been when we arrived home and it went much smoother that time and later when we practiced words aloud, there was not one issue. And we had fun doing it.

Ah, the preteen years are upon us. The struggle to be independent and do it the way you want to do it, if only to be opposite of your parents viewpoint on a situation. I struggle so much with being the squawking, yelling mom when he gets in that mood because I want him to just listen to me. LISTEN, kiddo. Most of the time I am on his side and we really are saying the same thing, he just doesn't hear me. Oy.

He was agreeing that he needed to practice, and I was, too, but not in the same way. He heard me say that he was a failure, but I was saying that a different style of "training" would be necessary for this biggie. He was hearing that he wasn't good enough, when I was saying that he absolutely could do this, but that he was not perfect and still needed to practice.

I told him tonight that I was going to be hard on him for these kind of reactions, because I did not want us to begin habits of communication that follow him as a high schooler. But I also need to not let my perfectionist and firstborn tendencies push him, push him, push him. He wasn't ready for the conversation of how to prepare right when we got home from school (gosh, isn't that some kind of freak example from Dr. Leman's Firstborn Advantage?!)--I think he had only wanted to celebrate with me and be excited for awhile longer before I brought up the subject of work.

Deep sigh. Parenting is tough and I have a feeling that it won't be last time our personalities clash. I'm wondering more and more if it's because we are so alike...

Hmmm...nah, couldn't be!