Thursday, April 22, 2010

Grade 4, Spring Term, Beowulf Week 3, Day 4 ~ Meltdown

Not working doesn't begin to explain today.

I'd love to post each day, singing the praises of homeschooling and telling everyone how easy it is. Except that isn't honest. It's hard some days. Really hard.

J-Baby is not a quick child. I'm not talking about his mind, which is quite gifted and gathers up information like a super sponge; no, I mean he is s-l-o-w. It takes him an hour to do something that takes someone else (Papa, T-Guy, me) 10 minutes. This could be folding his clothing, doing the breakfast dishes, or his math practice work. He is easily distracted and lost in thoughts a lot of the time. He doesn't see the value in work for works sake. He says it out loud: I don't like work. At least he's honest.

But he is also of an age where he has little empathy. He isn't bothered by the fact that his slacking means his brother does more of the room cleaning. He doesn't care that not doing his chores means more work for me. He doesn't care that his slowness with lesson work means we don't get to the main lesson some days. He doesn't care that it upsets us. He's 10 and the world revolves around him.

Today was awful. There is no sugar-coating it. He didn't want to get dressed and reminders weren't helping. He took an hour to do the dishes once he finally got them started. Thinking of the issues with long multiplication practice Tuesday I cut his math practice problems to 16 and I wrote them on graph/grid paper for him. He spent 90 minutes on those problem (or sitting there not doing them) and didn't finish until after Papa came home for lunch, set a timer, and told him to get them done or face the loss of his weekend Wii playing.

When I took him through a single problem he could do it quickly and easily, so it wasn't about ability. I was allowing him to use a multiplication table chart so that he wasn't hung up by his lack of fact memorization.

Suddenly I am reminded of the toddler who screamed no jammies for a full hour and then, in an exhausted sleep, continued to murmur no jammies every few minutes. A child who screamed when it was bath time and screamed when it was time to get out of the bath tub. A child who screamed because he didn't want to get out of his pajamas in the morning. A child who made up his mind about not having his picture taken and stubbornly kept his hands over his face until the photographer gave up.

Rhythm has always been our most powerful tool, but it isn't working right now. He is digging in his heels once more and resisting the rhythm. He's happy only when he gets exactly what he wants, which is no chores, no lessons work, and his favorite foods served at every meal. I can't give him those things and he has to learn not to make life hell for the rest of us because of it.

I don't see the benefit of homeschooling a child who isn't enjoying it when it brings discord to the home and conflict to the child-parent relationship. I think the only reason I am still homeschooling J-Baby is that I am concerned that he will be labeled if we put him in school and that they will be suggesting medication and that he won't ever have the chance to prove himself because he will be deemed a problem child.

I know that gifted children are often bored. I was bored out of my skull in school, but I always did my work. I don't understand the under-achieving gifted student. I know they exist, but I wasn't one of them. It's scary; the under-achieving gifted students that I knew growing up are exactly leading successful lives right now, and I'm not talking about salaries. I'm talking about meaningful work and successful relationships.

I'm lost. I'm tired. It's hard right now. He needs something else. We need something else. I just don't know what that is just yet. One thing I do know is that he is really seeking the company of friends and I have plans to talk to some friends about the community homeschooling they are doing.

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