Thursday, May 24, 2007

You Rock!!!

Oh, that boy!
The one who drives me nuts and warms my heart.
The child who makes me think I'm the meanest mom in the world, and the best mom ever.
If you've been reading here long, you know who I'm talking about.
My Joshua.

On the way home from school, Joshua told me the story behind his homework. While he was at speech class the rest of the kids in his classroom were misbehaving and the teacher couldn't get through the math lesson. When Joshua returned, he witnessed the teacher's frustration as an extra page was assigned for homework with the understanding if the kids didn't complete it, they would miss recess the next day and do the homework instead. Joshua moaned about suffering the consequences of his classmates' behavior. Of course, he is always a perfect role model and never misbehaves in class... Right.
Anyway, we talked briefly about taking responsibility for your own behavior, and the reality of having to suffer the consequences of other people's behavior sometimes. Then Joshua - completely on his own - decided he would do his homework right away when he got home, rather than going to the community center to play, so he didn't forget to do it later and end up missing recess tomorrow. Since homework is often a point of contention, I was quite impressed with his logic and reasoning. However, by the time we got home he had changed his attitude.
He ran around for a bit to unwind, which was a good thing, but when he decided to start his homework he was sweaty and didn't want to sit down and work. I reminded him there was quite a lot to do, and he really should focus in on it and get going. I think that's when he started yelling and complaining. "I don't want to! I'm too hot!" I offered to get Joshua some ice water to help him cool down (hoping it would help his temperament as well as his temperature) and he responded by essentially saying, "Go ahead and try it, but it isn't going to work."
I got him the water and brought it to the table. He had started his math and was already wanting to take a break, but I told him to keep working. My words didn't sit well with him. I could tell he didn't like me at the moment, but felt it was important to see that he stick to the task at hand. To be honest, at this point I was just about as frustrated with Joshua as he was with his math. It drives me nuts when he gets in these moods, making simple tasks monumental and finding every possible reason to be upset.
When I returned to the kitchen I heard Joshua gasp, and I turned around to see the water spilled all over the table and Joshua's math page. My initial reaction was to be upset with him for messing around and spilling the water. Somehow I could just picture him intentionally dumping the cup in an attempt to get out of doing the work. But for some strange reason, I remained calm and got paper towels and a wash cloth to clean up the spill.
As I was mopping up the water, I could tell Joshua was sorry. He told me his hand was sweaty and when he picked up the cup it slipped and fell over. So he wasn't messing around and intentionally spilling the water. Boy, was I glad I hadn't yelled at him!
Only half of his math paper was wet, so I told him he could work on the dry part and then take a break. When the paper was dry, he could finish the rest. I was prepared for him to argue with me again, but he didn't. He sat at the table and did his work and I went into the kitchen to make muffins.

I was trying to understand the situation we'd just endured. How had we gone from a good idea in the van, to fighting over making the idea a reality, to working together to clean up a mess - which could've been messier, were it not for God keeping my mouth shut?
Sometimes I am at such a loss for what to do with that child. He gets angry and defiant. He yells at me. He focuses in on everything that's wrong around him and I feel like I can't get him out of the pit. I have started taking him to a therapist to see if we can help him but, at moments like this afternoon, I feel almost helpless.

Perhaps you have read the account of the little "game" Joshua and I play wherein we tell each other, "You rock!" Well, since then we've come up with another way to say it. You know how you do rock in the game Rock, Paper, Scissors? Now Joshua and I point to each other and then make the rock signal - our wordless way of saying, "You rock!"
So, just as I was in the middle of the above thought process, Joshua had finished the dry section of his homework and came into the kitchen with me. He said, "Mom?" When I turned toward him, he pointed at me and then pounded his fist on the palm of his hand.
You rock.
Though I was nearing my wits' end with him just moments before, though we were fighting over the completion of a simple task, though I thought he was ready to declare once more that I'm the meanest mom in the world, Joshua told me I rock. Yes, I live on a roller coaster. But with God's help, I'm determined to enjoy the ride.

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Annie said...

I have figured out one thing that works with Emelia who also acts like homework is so huge and takes hours to do five minutes worth of work. Her teacher told me she is the brightest in the class and her tests score her years above her grade, but she drags along like she is so frustrated... so I started setting a time limit. I make it a challenge and say, "I wonder if you could get that english paper done in 10 minutes, probably not." She says there is no way so I set the timer for her and she almost always gets it done fast with a smile for her accomplishment. Much easier than hours of prodding.
You are a patient woman Karen, I can see that through the love you show your kids (and that bird too).
Have a great holiday weekend!

Penny said...

Isn't it amazing how both our kids and ourselves can change direction in a matter of seconds? My husband always laughs at how dependent my mood seems to be on Dakota's mood. And we know how fast that changes!