Yesterday I uttered the words, "You are going to thank me for this someday" to my eight year old. I have officially become a curmudgeon.
Seriously though, I am hoping to teach the boy a little responsibility so that he can take the next necessary step toward adulthood. He is becoming increasingly independent, and while the thought of him not being my sweet baby boy and actually becoming a (gulp) grown man someday scares me gray, I know it is inevitable. And I need to do my best to facilitate the transition. Starting with school. He is generally pretty good about getting his daily homework done, but things start to get hairy when it comes to longer assignments. Each month the students are required to do a book report. Reading is not the issue, but choosing an appropriate book and finishing it with enough time to complete the report is. Last month he decided, with a week before the due date, that he would read a rather lengthy book for the report. Okay, I told him, then you need to set a reading schedule for yourself. Translation: Mom is going to nag you every day until you finish reading the book. He's also required to do outside reading for his enrichment class. The teacher assigns large chunks to read over a seven day period. The reading is challenging and not something you can complete the night before it is due. Especially not when that night is the busiest one of the week. Again, I helped him set up a reading schedule. And then I nagged. Believe me, I don't want to nag, but I worry that if I don't the work won't get done. Do I leave him to his own devices and let him experience the natural consequences of procrastination? I tell myself, yes, yes, he should learn the hard way. But then I give one more gentle reminder. Maybe two. Or three.
Then there's the homework folder. He has a daily behavior/assignment sheet that needs to be signed. On the back is a chart, and he is required to keep track of the minutes he reads each day (which must also be signed). He does his reading at night, which is fine, and then fills out the chart in the morning. Then I sign it and stick his homework folder into his backpack. Yesterday I asked him three times if he filled out his chart. He ignored me and was prepared to walk out the door with no homework folder (a relatively serious offense in the classroom). I reminded him, then told him it was the last time I was going to make sure he had his sheet signed and folder in backpack - that he needed to be more responsible. Gave him this whole speech (see opening quote) that probably sounded like the teacher in Peanuts . This morning, he remembered to fill out the sheet, but neglected to put the folder in his backpack. I cleared the counter and placed the folder in the dead middle. Impossible to miss. Asked, "You sure you have everything?" Kicked myself for being a softy.
In less than two months, second grade will be over. Each school year the work gets more difficult and I know he will be expected to read more, manage larger assignments, and study for tests. I want him to be successful, to be a good student, to be independent and responsible. But it's hard to know when to push and when to let go. When to allow the pain of forgetfulness, laziness, or plain 'ol something-else-was-more-interesting-ness to sink in. Hopefully we'll figure it all out and he really will thank me someday.