One of the keys to being an overachiever is being able to juggle a million responsibilities and commitments. After not having the energy or the drive to keep up with my life for a couple of months while I was recovering, I’ll never take this skill for granted. This week I’ve attempted – again – to instill this skill in Big Sister.
At eleven, she is failing miserably to keep up and meet commitments. She dances three nights a week and fifth grade homework is far more brutal than any year prior. She – again – is missing so many assignments that with two weeks looming before the end of the semester she’s in danger of failing fifth grade. Even with the
looming threat motivation of knowing if she can’t keep her grades up she doesn’t get to keep dancing competitively, she struggles.
This must be one of those parenting lesson things because I’m at a loss. How can my kid – MY kid – not get it? She has a planner provided by the school and part of her grade this year is based on how much she uses it. Yet days go by that it doesn’t even make it home, let alone have notes in it to remind her of what she needs to do. Worse, I’d been lulled into happily believing everything was under control. After all we nipped this in the bud last semester and she’s been getting her math finished at school so there’s much less to do at night. Imagine my distress when I checked her online grade book – just to be sure – to find nineteen missing assignments. NINETEEN. Half of them math.
In true analytical style, I took a step back from the yelling mommy ledge and wondered if there was something bigger at play. Using a planner effectively assumes there is a foundation of organization already in place. And as much as it pains me to admit it, my kid is not organized. Her room looks like a tornado unless I’ve been mean mom and locked her in it for days and told her she can’t play with BFF until it’s clean. And then it only lasts for a couple of hours. Partly I blame myself and my OCD where until I got pregnant with Baby Sister I cleaned up after her and when the mess in her room got too big for me to handle I helped her by telling her where everything went. It was very hard for me to admit that I have anything to do with this issue but there it is. The queen of organization never taught it to her kid. *sigh*
So, we had a great talk – she cried a lot and I yelled less – and I explained the nuances of being organized. Where you have to find your own system of keeping track of things and your own little tricks to remind yourself to use your system until it gets ingrained. Reinforced by the knowledge that homework never goes away and as much as she cries and says ‘I wish there wasn’t such a thing as homework’ now is the best time to figure out how you’re going to manage it. Six words I fear I don’t say enough really hit home to her: ‘I know you can do it.’ I’m sure there’s a whole series of posts I could do on how I’m motivated to action by the exact opposite of my kid but that’s for another day.
Amazingly, I think at least part of it sunk in. I just looked up and saw her checking off a missing assignment on the list in the front of her binder after she filed it in the folder she’s decided is where completed work goes. Of course she’s been at the homework for two and a half hours with only two assignments completed because I have to keep reminding her that she’s supposed to be doing homework and not daydreaming/complaining/chatting/eating. But I’ll celebrate the baby steps and try to overlook the rest. This parenthood thing is hard!