Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Last Minute Lessons

This is my last Wednesday before summer vacation starts.  Funny, but today it feels more like fall.  Odd, but the workload for both kids is amping up not winding down.  Teachers are trying to fit in every last nugget and morsel before advancing them and then setting them free for 12 weeks.  I just spent the last hour helping Miss Bit write a slogan/ditty for Idaho.  It's her individual part in a group social studies project she's stressing over because a. her group is monkeying around and not taking this project seriously b. Miss Bit tends to take projects too seriously, and c. she's in serious decompress mode with less than a week left of school.  She was much relieved after our song writing session, yet still she worried that her group would reject her catchy idea.  All I could tell her was to remain calm and then give the other group participants the opportunity (and necessity since there are only 5 days left of school so time is running short) to present other ideas.  I warned her that some tweaking was likely at the very least.  I confessed that I never was a big fan of the group project.  Even in graduate school,  I was too often paired with either the control freaks who want to do it all or the do nothingers.  I'm not sure which is worse.  I stopped short of telling her that the dynamic of this school microcosm is very much a reality in all facets of life.

T. Bone was up until at least 11:00 last night.  He was working on the finishing touches (I'm being kind here) of a poetry project.  He's had this assignment for weeks, and yet last night he was scrambling to eke out two more poems.  We had a rare mom/son date last night for dinner, and after he quickly penned a very cute and clever poem about our pizza.  It is easy for him, but where he excels in ideas and execution, he struggles with time management.   My argument was that a long-term project should be complete days in advance.  I contend that complete means published as in printed and bound.  His argument was that if our printer wasn't problematic and our IT guy (Coach) hadn't been at a baseball game with friends (how dare him), it wouldn't have been an issue. I struggled to let him struggle.  I wanted to troubleshoot after I schooled him in all the ways his timing and thinking were unacceptable, but I mostly just stayed on the couch deep breathing and pretending to read my book.  I thought about 6th grade orientation in the fall.  The team implored us to let our kids take responsibility for their work and projects.  Their being the operative word here.  They begged us to let them fail if they didn't complete something, and to suffer the consequences of incomplete or shoddy or late work.  I understand that logic, yet how I struggled to see (head in hands) and hear him (sigh, sigh) struggle.  But I clearly heard those pleas from the beginning of the year made by teachers who understand the value and worth of personal responsibility.  I cautioned him that his project may be late.  I suggested that maybe he'll do things differently next time to get his desired outcome.  That was not at all what he wanted to hear. He wanted me to support his excuses and offer solutions.  It may have taken me all of 6th grade to learn it, but I know now that tough times often yield tremendous growth no matter your age.

It really made me sad though because we had such a great evening together just the two of us.  We chatted about summer, played the jukebox and sang along to the Beetles, and strategized Blokus in reverse with our cheese/sausage/roni/extra cheese.  Then we pretended to play practical jokers, and just imagining the stunts we came up with was almost as funny as performing them.  Thank goodness because I didn't want to get up and sing karaoke for the restaurant, or open the window for him so he could throw his soccer ball at an unsuspecting biker while yelling fore or catch.  We were having so much fun that he decided he wanted to come to Miss Bit's softball game to which I consented not wanting our time together to end.  And here we were angry and disappointed in one another and ourselves at the end of it all.  He didn't return my I love you when I sent him up to shower after telling him he'd have to figure it out in the morning.  But he came back down after he was clean and calm to tell me he thought he could finish it in study hall.  He devised a plan and it seemed plausible.

Then he asked, Mom are we all right? 

 I said, I'm all right, are you? 

 I'm good...are we good?  I love you, T. Bone finally admitted

 We're good...I love you too, I said.

And I do.  I love him...I love much that I want to give them the world, but it's only my job to help them navigate it.  At times, it's painfully difficult to sit back and watch them tussle with themselves or with others, but every attempt at conflict stocks their own tool chests with the devices they need to trail blaze their own paths.  Sure sometimes I lend a hand and often an ear.  I give advice, make suggestions, and offer guidance, but in the end I can only show them and tell them and then they must do...they must be.