Sometimes I think I would rather face a horde of Skrulls in a battle for world domination than face off against my seven year old when he determinedly does not want to do his homework.
My weeknight rules are pretty simple: play, read your book, practice your spellings, eat, play some more, go to bed.
Clear, concise, simple, routine. But every once in a while, BAM! WHACK! POW! he transforms from a loveable mild-mannered child into Whino, the Homework Slayer.
OK, that’s a bit exaggerated. In retrospect, it’s not so bad. True, he does whine. True, he argues with me until he is blue in the face, but he is still amazing, beneath the tears.
Here is the thing: when my kid loses his mind, I lose mine. It’s a reflex reaction I can’t control. When he whines about homework, I feel like Wolverine whenever he is faced with Daken, SNIKT! out pop my defensive claws. Unlike Wolverine, I at least resort to clam and collected discussion, but what good does that do against the perils of a seven year old who just wants more time to play with his toys?!
There is no right approach to parenting. Most days I feel I do a pretty good job, but when your child fights you tooth and nail on an issue you feel strongly about (and a beneficial one to them, at that!) it is hard to hold your own. My instincts are at odds. All at once I want to hug him and kiss him and tell him I love him, but I also want to stand my ground- homework must be done, go expand your mind!
In these moments I waiver. I don’t know if I am doing it right, this whole parenting thing. If I am too calm, it doesn’t work; if I get agitated, it doesn’t work; If I get angry, well, that never works out for anybody. Tonight, after a lot of calm reminders and encouragement, I was agitated. So I left him alone with his toys while he pondered his choices and mine.
After some reflection he came to me and apologized, on his own, for his behaviour. After all, my son is really more of a superhero than a villain, whiney or not.
Then he explained something to me:
A friend at school has been bullying him- stealing his toys, yelling at him, calling him names. He had been mentioning bits and pieces of this lately, but it seems tonight it started to wear on him and affect him at home, not just at school. We talked about what he thinks a bully is, and how he hopes to never be one. In that moment I felt all I could offer was to remind him that he is abundantly considerate of others, compassionate, and generous (don’t let my little homework rant fool you!). He said to me last week, “Mommy, I want to be like Captain America. He believes in his friends, and I want to be the same way”. And despite the fact he gets angry with me, he never lashes out at his buddies, instead he calms them when they lash out around him. He calms his mommy, too, when he recognizes that he has overreacted and has apologized, or when he feels confident enough to tell me I need to relax and be a better listener.
He didn’t read his book tonight. He already knows his spelling words. But we had a little lesson all the same. In the end, I am pretty sure I was the student.
I don’t always know if I am doing this whole parenting thing right. I have no superpowers. Finding the right balance to parenting is the greatest mystery I have faced yet. It is the longest road I walk. I am so lucky to walk it with my son.