Friday, October 2, 2015

The road to independence is full of potholes

My oldest is now in fourth grade. Next year he'll be in middle school, changing classes, using a locker, and generally being independent.


We have a bit of distance to travel before then, and my plan is to use these next 11 months (pardon me while I spend a few moments in denial.... ... ... okay, I'm back) getting him ready for the next phase of his life. That means letting go. Letting go of the nagging, the reminders, the doing everything for him because it's much easier than waiting for him to do it himself. Letting go is not easy for me. I like to be in control of the minutia of life; it's one of my character flaws. It is nearly impossible to enforce such levels of control over two young boys, but I try anyway. And now it is coming back to bite me. Because now I want P to do things without reminders and to make good choices and to not procrastinate until the last minute.

Needless to say it's not going all that well right now.

There is a lot to keep track of in fourth grade. Daily reading and math logs, spelling charts, and math homework. Violin practice. Cub scout requirements. Remembering to bring his gym bag home so I can wash his sweaty clothes (this has only happened once so far. ew.) We'd also like him to do chores around the house - nothing too complicated - simple stuff like keeping his room clean and collecting garbage once a week. And I want it all to happen without nagging.

As if it were that easy.

Last night the hubs and I had a convo with P about not letting his daily charts go until the end of the month and then scrambling to get them finished as the bus is pulling into our court. After our son went off to bed, my husband said something about the boy following in my footsteps. I am desperate for that NOT to happen.The procrastination struggle is real and a lifelong monkey to peel off one's back. My grades in school were not nearly as good as they could have been if I had actually made an effort. Turned things in on time. Worked up to my potential. Of course my parents said that to me in an endless loop and fool that I was, I didn't listen. And now I fear that we are wandering down the same path again, only this time I'm singing the "don't get swallowed up by the ease of mediocrity" tune. And the boy is clearly zoned out into the happy place where I spent a large part of my childhood whenever my parents lectured me.

The plan is to try and let him make mistakes and hope that he learns from them. My parents rescued me a lot, even into young adulthood. And while I appreciated it in the moment, it took me a long time to figure out how to stand on my own. It wasn't until graduate school that I learned how to focus on the task in front of me and give it 100%. (Admittedly that philosophy has not transferred into all the other areas of my life... but it's a process.) I don't want the boy to wait that long. I hope that if I allow him to fail, he'll eventually see that there are intrinsic rewards for doing your best work and getting things accomplished on time.

Mama just needs to step back and figure out how to guide him in the right direction without standing behind him and giving him a huge shove. We'll see how that goes.