Thursday, October 14, 2010

Gotta love it!

A week and a half ago I quit being Tortuga's teacher. I sent a text to C. saying "I quit my teaching job of eldest. As a teacher I feel great! As his parent, we are scr*w*d. Who are we going to get to teach him?" Then I told him that I quit. I was no longer willing to be his teacher and since he wasn't interested in learning anything or doing schoolwork then it was a "win-win" for all of us. I wasn't compromising my relationship with him as him mom any longer by having to deal with his constant ODD when it comes to his studies. He was speechless. We had gone through about a week of his constant need to contradict, compromise, and interfere with his and anyone else's learning not because he doesn't like to learn or even because he hates schoolwork but because he has to be oppositional. I was tired and he was mad because he wasn't being praised for some of the crappy lousy work he was doing. Everything he does has to be done fast so he was making careless mistakes on his work even when he clearly understood what to do. If there was a direction to be followed he wasn't doing it. More importantly he was taking a great deal of time away from his siblings learning time with constant interruption, rudeness and need to "engage" with me, mostly in arguments I wouldn't participate in.I told him that since learning was his primary job and he was unwilling to do it he lost the privileges that came with a successful school day--movies, Wii time, outside playtime after dinner (big deal because we supervise and they get to do stuff all together), etc. He could spend the school hours in his room doing in-room activities (drawing, reading, activity books, puzzles, legos, etc.).

At first he loved it. Of course, I took advantage and used those days to do "fun" school with Corazon. We built a bat house, made a model bridge, tested our volcanos which is our current unit, researched C.'s ancestors on-line as part of our colonial history social studies unit, and for good measure I threw in some hands-on craft and art projects. By Saturday he was begging me to be his teacher again. I told him I wasn't ready. I was enjoying NOT being abused. On Monday, he asked again so I asked him to put it in writing. Here is part of what he wrote:

Dear Mom, I need you to be my teacher. Why? Because if you can't be my teacher who else can? The second reason is because I know you are very smart. I need to have a teacher who is very smart. Other teachers hardly teach me as much as you do. I need YOU. Also, other teachers give you boring work and you don't. All the work that you give me is interesting and I learn a great deal. Another reason is because I like to do homeschool. It's quiet and easy to do things as I relax but also make my brain work hard to learn new things. So, I need you to be my teacher. Understand? Plus it makes me proud when people ask me what school I go to. I say "I'm homeschooled because I have the smartest teacher in the whole world and she doesn't let me think I cannot learn everything and anything I want." ... My last reason is because it it fun to do work and learn things from you. It's interesting. Now that is all I have got to say. I just BEG you to be my teacher once more.  Love, me.(your loving son who like having you be my teacher even though I behave that I don't.)"
Priceless. That child has come so far and even though I know he has far to go I cannot help but be proud and impressed by him. 

Today we did a "test run" and I agreed to "teach" him. I gave him the option of changing his mind with the condition that once I started teaching him again he could not be rude, mean, disrespectful, etc. to me or his schoolwork without it resulting in automatic loss of some serious privileges (library time is the biggest privilege for my geeky kids so that was at the top of it) and I would not longer support his writing/drawing blog (I do all the typing/ scanning/etc.) We shall see how this goes but he has been on his best behavior today--even thanking me for every correction and redirection.  He greets each new assignmentwith a smile and saws "cool" or "awesome." Do I expect it to last? I don't know but I know that I am going to do my best to not let him slip and hold my end of the bargain when he slips. One thing I have learned with this kid is that I have to follow through every single time otherwise he goes downhill fast.

7 comments:

GB's Mom said...

He has one smart Mom :)

Lee said...

The letter he wrote is amazing. We have some of those issues with one of ours. The hasty work, the ignoring directions. We don't get the arguing though, instead we get stoic silence and staring at the teapot. (we school in the kitchen)

Christine said...

*like*

BT said...

Love your strategy in this! And I absolutely love T's reaction. You can definitely see his attachment strengthening.

Some of our recent successes with our almost-11 P have come when we have refused to fight with him. "We love you too much to damage our relationship with arguing, nagging, and fighting. So we are just going to opt you out of activity x. You can go do y [less desirable]." P is at a stage now where this approach seems to work really quite rapidly. He comes around quickly and feels chipper, and we all avoid the moment-by-moment power struggle that gets him so much negative attention and reduces the attention we pay to his brother!

marythemom said...

Woohoo! Good job Mom!

Mary in TX

matryoshka said...

wow..what a beautiful letter...

Perspective RAD said...

Oh! Can so RELATE! OMG!! Feel your pain! Know your story!

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