Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Endurance


Being a teacher has prepared me well for parenting...except for one thing: endurance. As a teacher I deal with many of the things that parents have to. I have to find a way to motivate kids that don’t really want to do what I ask of them. I have to encourage children when the think they can’t do it. I have to find a way to redirect bad behavior. I have to let kids know that I am the authority in the room and they have to listen to me, while at the same time be likable enough that they will want to do what I ask of them. All of this I have to do, before I can approach the content that I need to teach. But as a teacher I can do something that parents can’t - I can go home without my students.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my students, but there are days when we all are crabby, and getting into that quiet car after school - alone - is wonderful.

This brings me to our darling Abby - and that endurance I was talking about. Often my “teacher head” knows the right course of action, but sometimes my “parenting chops” just can’t keep up. I start to “give in” on the little things. I stop letting my “no” stay “no”, and because it is easier in the moment, I cave. I get worn down, and then I pay the price later. 

I thought a lot about this today, as I reflected on Abby’s behavior of late. Yesterday things came to a head. My darling, charming, lovable, and happy child.....was being a complete brat. Now, I realized that after the second day of school, after a nice long and relaxing break, she might be a touch tired, but we’d been working up to this, and I knew some changes needed to be made. 

Our initial concern was that she was having the same behavior problems we were seeing at home, at school. My first course of action was to send an email to her teacher. It was after I’d gotten Abby to bed that I saw her teacher had replied. “Call me” was what the message. My stomach sank. Oh, Man! I thought, This is really bad if we need to discuss it over the phone. It turned out that it wasn’t quite as bad as I thought, but Jason and I still talked quite a bit this morning to Abby about how to behave at school.

Today was a better day. I picked Abby up from school partly because I wanted to hear about her day, but also in the hopes of shortening her long day by not having her take the bus. The report was “pretty good” - and I’ll take that.

This is a process - behaviors aren’t changed overnight, but they can be changed, with hard work and consistency - my “teacher head” knows this well. I just hope my “parenting chops” are up to the challenge. 


Abby's reward for a good day was that she got to choose
dinner - she picked pizza - big surprise, I know!
Now that's the happy face I'm used to!


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