Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Failing

Oh boy, if someone were to grade my performance each day, today I would have been given an "F" at lunch time and told to just go to bed and try again tomorrow.  Cause I blew it.  Big time.

(Sure wish I could go to bed for the rest of the day...but that's just not how reality works, is it?)

I tried very hard (and not so patiently) for 2 hours to do school with Zeke and Josh this morning.  I pulled out some concept cards to work on with Zeke as Josh sat working on his cursive writing page.  The very first measurement cards Zeke and I had ever done together were 12 inches = 1 foot, 3 feet = 1 yard, 36 inches = 1 yard.  Not so hard to memorize, right?  Huh.  We are *supposed* to have moved on to also know how many days in a week, months in a year, seconds in a minute, minutes in an hour, hours in a day, cups in a pint, pints in a quart, quarts in a gallon, and so on.  But today?  Still stuck on 3 feet in a yard, not 36.  I wanted to put my head through the wall.

I looked over at Josh's pitiful attempt to write a cursive "vi".  Yes, I understand this is hard to learn the connection between those two letters.  However his attempt was hardly better than Malachi's would have been.  Why is he still not getting it after months and months of practice???  I erased his work, told him to start again and moved on with Zeke.

"How many days are in a week?"  Zeke repeated the question to me slowly, wrinkled his nose, paused, then said, "What did you want to know?"  I repeat the question (maybe not so kindly), and get another non-answer.  I finally hand him a stack of cards with the days of the week on them.  I say, "Read each day, lay it down, and count them up."  First day Zeke reads, "September."  Oh you've got to be kidding me!  "S-u makes what sound, Zeke?"  No answer.  "Josh, what does S-u say?"  Josh looks at the card and says, "Su, Sunday!"  Thanks, Josh.  Zeke says, "Josh, you need to work on your own work."  Zeke proceeds with Monday thru Friday with no problems, then hangs up on Saturday.  I get "September" from him again.  I guess he really thought September should be in there somewhere.  I tell him to sound out the word.  He whines, "It's too hard!!"  We have spent weeks working on breaking down words into syllables and the phonics involved makes 'Saturday' an easy word.  Again I pass the card to Josh, assuming he can at least sound out "Sat".  Josh does with little trouble, "Sa, Sat, Sat-u, Saturday!"  Zeke rolls his eyes and grabs the card, figures out there are 7 days in a week and we move on.  I was looking for a 3-second answer to my question (How many days are in a week) and it ended up being a 10-minute ordeal.

At this rate we might finish 1st grade in a few years.  My patience was pretty much gone at this point.  Josh's letter v's have not improved.  I ask Micah to come and help him.  Micah berates him with bossy and angry words.  This is not going to work.  I excuse Micah (with some not so kind words) to do other chores.  Micah's anger spills over to the little kids--who are trying to play.  I fill Josh's page with vi's for him to just trace...forget getting him to write it on his own.  He does and moves on to 'bi' with similar disastrous results.  This is not something new we are learning to write.  The only difference is the lines are a bit smaller--but otherwise he should be able to do this so that it reasonably looks like a 'bi'.  It doesn't.  Erase, try again.

I turn to Zeke, who has started working on a worksheet.  We discuss syllables and we count out syllables for lots of different words.  He has a great handle on it.  He turns to his page, which has two words, and a box under the words.  He is supposed to read each word, and write the number of syllables in the box.  I tell him the instructions twice and he still wrinkles his nose as if he doesn't understand.  (Remember I have no patience left).  He finally figures it out and moves on.  At the bottom of the sheet are 4 pictures.  He needs to write the word that goes with each picture (king, ring, car, star).  Easy.  Or should be.  "King" he gets no problem, turns out it's part of the password he uses to log into webkinz, so of course he knows that one!  He moves on to "car".  Again, he gets it.  Well, at first he asked me and he got an angry glare, then he figured it out on his own.  He moves on to "ring" and writes "rege".  I think that was the last straw for me.

None of this was going smoothly.  Zeke and Josh were goofing off, talking, laughing, dropping/breaking pencils, moving around, etc, constantly through all of this.  (Remember 2 hours here...)  Not to mention attitude from Micah going on in the background, and still keeping an eye on 4 other little kids not doing schoolwork.  I collected  their papers, and said in exasperation, "Nevermind.  Just go play and forget about it."  I put their stuff down and stomped away to my bedroom to have a little cry.  (All while feeling guilty because the preschoolers must be adequately supervised at all times...and you can guess that this did not qualify as "adequate").  To make matters worse, they did go play.  They didn't seem to have an iota of remorse about not finishing their schoolwork.  Grrrr.

I gathered myself, talked on the phone with Kristin (vented, rather), and calmed down eventually.  Then I sat down and picked up one of my Ginger Plowman books, "Don't Make Me Count to Three!"  I was thinking possibly this would help.  Chapter 1:

"If I have to answer one more insignificant question, wipe one more runny nose, or bandage one more boo-boo today, I'm going to pull out my hair...and maybe also the hair of whoever is standing close by!"

This could be good.  But as I kept reading I ended up just feeling worse.  Hot tears filled my eyes and threatened to spill onto my cheeks again.  What can an author with only a 5 yo and 3 yo have to say to me in my situation?  I read on and Ginger says, "Moms, we need to be reminded of the awesome responsibility that God has given us.  When we respond to the high calling of motherhood with passion, the rewards are far greater than we could ever gain outside of that calling."  Pile on the guilt.  I still kept reading.  She quoted what Thomas Edison, Abe Lincoln, and George Washington had to say about their incredible mothers.  Nothing that describes me.  Go ahead and make that big letter "F" permanent, because I see it in my future from now on!

I know this is not true.  I know that I will keep reading this book, and it will have insight for me to learn from.  I know we will have better days.  That I will have more patience.  That Zeke will eventually remember there are 3 feet in a yard and 7 days in a week.  That Josh will figure out some form of written communication.  That all the problems that seem so large this morning will have a solution.  It's just sometimes so hard to see beyond here and now.  But God HAS called me to something bigger.  And no, it's not being a mom.  Being a mom is great and all, but.

[6] And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
(Philippians 1:6 ESV)
And
[28] And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. [29] For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. [30] And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
(Romans 8:28-30 ESV)

My sanctification.  God is working on me.  To conform me to the image of His Son.  He loves me too much to leave me as I am.  He may not be working on the areas I want him to work on, but He is working.  Today is a great day for a video like this one:


I've posted it before, but it's always a good reminder. Ok...now I'm off...deep breath...to do some real talking (not yelling and complaining) to Zeke and Josh about their schoolwork. Keep praying for me!

6 comments:

  1. I needed this post today! I've had a day similar to yours...only 7 out of 30 words spelled right on a quiz (things like "findgse" instead of "finds"), can't remember how to count by 5's when we've been doing it for months, having to repeat instructions over and over, etc. I've lost my patience so many times and then gotten upset with my children when they follow my example and lose their patience with their siblings. I'm thankful that God doesn't lose His patience with me! And I'm also thankful for your example and your reminder to rely on God and His Word. You're a great mother and your kiddos are blessed to have you. :)

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  2. I have to tell you Steph, that it makes me feel so much better that I'm not the only mom that feels that way some days.

    Tomorrow will be better. And yes, even if it's not, He'll change us through it.

    Celee

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  3. I can so relate, Steph. It seems like too many of my schooling days have been like your morning. And I lose it, and then I feel guilty because I know my kids deserve so much better than I give. I pray for patience, but feel like I never change; just continue to roll on in despair, tiredness, and guilt. I know it's not true. And I am so thankful for God's mercies which are new every day. I must keep learning to extend those new mercies to my children as well.

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  4. Thank you for being so open and raw with your words. It's good to know that we all have days like this (and I'm not a home-schooling mom - pretty much for the day you described here!!). So hang in there - you are doing great - I'm pretty sure the little guy will figure out how many days in a week before 12th grade :D

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  5. Your boys will learn to read, write, and remember measurements. In their own timing. My oldest, Jonathan, didn't read until he was in 3rd grade. I remember sitting with him, pointing out simple words, him repeating them and then SECONDS later he couldn't do it. What helped me most during that time was remembering what one of my college professors said during an educational psychology class -- that much of what happens in grades k-3 can be made in one year when kids are developmentally ready. Now, that doesn't mean I would stop schooling my kids, but I've seen that kids have their own timing on learning and remembering things. I've learned, probably too late, not to push it. Once Jonathan started reading, he surpassed his grade level in one year. He now reads at a high school level.

    Melissa

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  6. Ah..not all days go the way we want! Good for you for realizing that.

    And FWIW, I'm not homeschooling or even able to be home with my kids all day and I STILL have days like that...patience is thin, frustration over things you know they know how or not to do. (um, like this morning for example) Being a mom isn't easy. Sometimes I have to say to heck with it and I chose to do something fun..an extra snuggle or two, whatever to feel like I reconnect with them if that makes sense! Sometimes..it makes all the difference.

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