Every now and then, while parenting your offspring, you might find yourself all the way at the bottom of some deep, dark pit. There seems to be no light penetrating down into the abyss and you wonder if you’ll ever find the stamina to climb back out again.
When parenting challenges you beyond what you think you are capable of, you may feel an urge to lash out at the culprits. Often the culprits are not the children themselves at all, since they are prone to picking up conflicting messages and reacting to them without the insights, or sense, that comes with maturity. They see their world in linear terms, and you, the parent, sees beyond that immediate scope. You see a larger picture evolving and causing more confusion, which in turn affects your family dynamic.
In my experience, the culprits are often external. And we all know the world can be a confusing place.
Since you are the parent, and responsible for the children, it is up to you to navigate this confusion and help your children get back onto the path you believe they should follow. Convincing them to simply turn left instead of continuing right however is not as simple as it may sound. Children, especially school-aged children, happen to have their own opinions and ideas of what they think they need to do, and self-confident children like mine will not hesitate to share their opinions with me in loud and clear terms.
It is no secret that I have been challenged by the public school system. The actual school my children attend is not specifically the problem, in fact, its small size with a strong, intimate community sense appeals to both us parents and our children. Our challenges come more with the style of education that is dispensed in public school in general. The hardest part for us is to help a resistant child who comes home with messages, or habits, that do not fall in line with our set of values to get back on track. It’s a tough road to travel, and if the child rejects our attempts to help him out because he doesn’t agree with our interpretation (even, and especially, if we know for a fact that the child misinterpreted something at school) we find ourselves falling back into that deep pit.
Sometimes it feels like I can’t climb back out.
Then, out of the blue, a blissful day appears. There is no challenge, there is no complaining, there is only cooperation and mutual respect. There is, for example, homework bliss. This does not happen often, but it does happen occasionally, and we had such a night last night. It couldn’t have come at a better time since I spent the entire day in emotional turmoil, second-guessing all of my recent parenting choices. Although my kid came home in an unhappy mood over a childhood issue, (couldn’t stay after school to play with friends because of hockey practice) after a quick snack and some gentle prompting to get the equipment packed, he sat down to do his homework without complaint. And not only that, he wrote legibly without my urging him to make the effort, and offered, OFFERED, to complete half the assignment which isn’t due until Friday.
I was a little stumped. 🙂
Hockey practice later on was a great way to get his mood elevated back up, and burn that excess energy that did not get burnt after school, and we had a lovely, calm evening.
Parenting is nothing but surprises.
The following morning this positive mood continued. The children are happy because one of their favorite holidays is almost here (Halloween with dress-up and candy, what child doesn’t like THAT) and there’s a school activity of pumpkin carving scheduled for tonight. Once we arrived at school this morning, the parked police car on display in the school yard announced a very popular police officer’s visit, a guy who connects with every child who wants to connect with him, and both kids were very excited. One of them even got to shake Officer Rich’s hand!
To make things even better, my third grader’s class is going skating at the rink this afternoon in place of gym at school. We lugged skates and helmets to school today, along with snacks and water, and all the hockey kids wore their hockey jerseys. Ben is feeling very content.
It’s days like today that make up for the despondent, heavy-hearted, doubtful days we spend parenting resistant and malevolent children. It’s days like today that I have to document to remind myself that next time I’m descending into the pit, it’s simply another phase that we will overcome.