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Apr 17 2012

Deja vu all over again…again

By God, I can’t do this anymore. I just can’t. I’m done, wiped, full-on finished. I cannot handle the arguments, the schoolwork coming home unfinished for the evening’s enjoyment, the backtalk, the whining, and the feeling that I am a complete and utter failure as a parent. Setting fire to my teaching degree is also a thought, given that everything I learned to earn it does not, in any way, apply to the creatures that reside beneath this roof. I thought homeschooling was going to reduce this crap. I was wrong.

I have another son.

You know, it’s not cosmically amusing enough that the universe saw fit to bless me with two boys. Or that they look more like their father than me. But that they both appear to have the same learning challenges is PISSING ME OFF. I just can’t do it. I can’t go through the battles with J that I did with A. I just can’t. I’m operating at DefCon One as a baseline right now and this schoolwork-adding-fuel-to-the-fire crap is making my trigger finger a little twitchy.

This afternoon my darling second child brought home a writing assignment (no, seriously, I can’t make this shit up…same shit we went through with his brother) that did not get finished during class. When asked, his instant and quite panicked reply was, “It’s not my fault!” This is becoming the de facto reply to ANYTHING regarding schoolwork lately and I’m about to wring his neck. His story is that they only had 20 minutes to write a seven sentence paragraph and draw a photo to accompany it. I find that hard to believe, so after a cooling off period on the chilly porch wishing I had a stiff drink with me, I made him sit and finish it. But lo and behold! He forgot his math homework! Again!

All this is new for J. He has been a great student for years, even requesting homework for kindergarten. But the last eighteen months or so he has slipped. I’ve noticed to a certain extent, but have been a little busy with his older and much more intense brother. His teacher and I have agreed to work with him and make him work, something he hasn’t really had to do to this point. If anything gets hard, even a little, he resists because it means he has to work at it. (Yes, I know what this sounds like, hush). I don’t know if it really is a case of not wanting to put forth effort, or of true difficulty (he’s already receiving writing interventions), or if he’s pulling shit so he can be homeschooled too. I just don’t know.

Oh, I won’t be addressing the insanity of how much freaking writing is required of a second grader, simply because state testing begins for them the next year. I think it is too much, I think pushing kids to write when they may not have the motor skills TO write is a bad idea, and I am convinced it does nothing but teach the kid that he’s a failure because he can’t do what he is truly not able to do. That boys suffer from this (slow to advance fine motor skills) only makes it worse. Oh, wait, I did address it. My bad.

I don’t know how I’m going to address this in the future. Right now I can’t think I’m so pissed off, and it’s just thrown on top of the mental laundry pile of crap going on. I cannot homeschool both boys, it is just not possible. I know a gazillion women do, but they’re not living in this house. It just would not work, by any stretch of the imagination. I’d rather stick both of them in school, get a full time job so as to relieve some of the financial fustercluck around here, and just ignore their educational crap until they fail enough to get a freaking clue and do it themselves. Whoa. Yeah, I went there.

Luckily tonight I have a haircut where I am getting my hair entirely chopped off. I will no longer look like any headshot floating around out there and if I had extra coin I’d have her color out the grays. Instead photoshop will do me the favor.

Damn. And things were almost-kinda-sorta going so well.

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  1. Katie

    **hugs**

  2. Mona

    Have you read the Steve Jobs biography? Evidently, Steve’s dad’s philosophy was that making sure Steve learned was the school’s job and he wasn’t going to have anything to do with it. So, gifted little Steve was left to his own devices to manage with his teachers, etc. Clearly, he figured out how to make some things work for himself. But he was also a fairly miserable person to be around, so I’m not so sure it was a complete success.

    But it’s tempting…

    1. Jen

      I have not read it, but it’s been staring at me from the table for months. :/ Story of my life. Sigh. I’d LOVE to have a hands-off approach; just can’t do it.

  3. Corin Goodwin

    Um, Jen… you’re surprised that two children of the same genetic mix might have similar learning challenges? Really?

    I wish I had some advice for you. I wish I had some for me, too. Having two kids like this is hard work – no matter what anyone tells you. I think your sense of humor will get you through, but stocking up on chocolate, duct tape and a taser gun can’t hurt, either.

    {{hugs}}

    1. Jen

      Agggghhhhhh….I was hoping to avoid that! The oldest never slept, the youngest did! I thought I was free and clear! 😉 LOL What gets me is that neither Tom nor I had any kind of learning challenges (if you don’t count my utter inability to function in mathematics).
      And I can have a taser? 😀

  4. cocobean

    If you are looking at a gifted kid, there is the whole issue of “if I can’t do it perfectly, why should I do it” that goes on – and the fact that they judge the questions they are asked (and sometimes INSULTED by the assignments they are given).

    home or at school – those same issues will come up. second grade or seventh – those same issues will come up.

    maybe he’s looking for attention, and NOT doing things at school gets him (negative) attention at home… maybe he would be enticed by special attention as a reward for getting the job done at school?

    And – there’s always the spring fever issue…

    and the possibility that you are going to be dealing with the same things in J as in A… (meaning in 6 months or whatever, if he gets the “diagnosis” of something, you will feel doubly like crap over it all)

    Mothering is hard – mothering gifted is hard – sorry that the universe heard you whispering that things seemed to be working out for homeschooling A…

    1. Jen

      That’s just it. We don’t know if we’re dealing with a gifted kid here or not. He’s not been tested, and the school sure as hell won’t see any reason to test based on his classwork. Went down that road with A and thankfully we had testing already in our pocket. So I have no idea what we’re dealing with. Today, however, homework was a breeze, and neatly done for a change. ::headdesk::

  5. Myrinda

    I’m sorry…you can cry and vent here *inserts shoulder and ear*

    Butter is really flourishing with homeschooling and next year is supposed to start the formal schooling for her sister, The Diva, now 5. I just point blank asked TD if she wants to go to regular school or try homeschooling. She said HS, so I figure, why fight it?

    Where I live, we actually have district sponsored options for virtual and homeschooling. Do you have any of those?

    I’m sure it’s a combination of a lot of things and I know, you say you can’t…but honestly, did you ever think you’d be where you are now? I know I didn’t.

    1. Jen

      We don’t have district sponsored squat. 🙁 No virtual schools either.
      And I never in a million years thought I’d be where I am right now, in any aspect of my life.

  6. Meagan McGovern

    Oh, I’ve SO been there. But it’s so much easier to homeschool both. Being in two systems at once is a mind-killer — and you’re still stuck in the school system setting your schedule, setting bedtimes, and you still have to deal with teachers and expectations and school lunches and meetings. Once you homeschool everyone, the expectations shift. If you’re having a bad day, you can go to the zoo and do a do-over. You can do a whole day of math by cooking. Nights are your own again — no homework, no backpacks, no having to go to bed early to get up early.
    I’ve got two gifted, challenged boys. The older one is in sixth grade, with a college reading level and a first-grade writing level. The other, who’s in second grade, is recovering from autism, and though he’s nearly “normal,” he’s still not quite.
    Throw in a two-year-old girl, and we’ve got a quite a mix here. I could NOT do school and have to live up to anyone else’s expectations on top of homeschooling. You’re living with the worst of both worlds — no wonder you’re stuck! You don’t have the flexibility of homeschooling, since you’re stuck with the schedule the school gives you, and you don’t have the freedom of days off that public schools give you!
    I feel for you. Today, we built Roman shields as part of a co-op, I got peed on by a toddler, we had a dentist appointment where we had to use laughing gas because of “sensory issues” with the drill and I fought with the 11-year-old over whether four lines of writing constituted an essay.
    Hang in there!

    1. Jen

      I absolutely agree. I was starting to think, “maybe in two or three years we’ll bring him home too,” for the very reasons you mention. But.Not.Now. His brother has to have total silence to do school; even the dishwasher (when it worked) was too distracting. So bringing him home now isn’t possible. Sigh.
      Oy. I’ve had that argument over four lines being an essay or not. You shoulda had the laughing gas for that one. 😉

  7. manal

    Just wanted to say I so hear you. Right down to the fulltime job idea. And I have 4. And they are ALL “intense”. I can’t deal. I’m about to even send the 2 yr old to daycare so I can breathe.
    *hugs* do what you gotta do
    I did take the route of letting them deal with the school studf while I backed way off.I can’t be everything to everyone 24/7. Like you said maybe other moms but not this one.

    1. Jen

      Four intense ones. My God. My hat’s off to you.

  8. ChiTown Girl

    xoxox

    That’s all I got.

    1. Jen

      Thanks. I needed that. 🙂

  9. Rebekah

    I wish we could have this conversation in person so I could give you a great big hug and buy you a nice stiff drink or three! You’re doing great, even tho it might not feel like it – you’re doing great cause you’re paying attention to your children, and you’re doing everything you can to ensue that they’ll be okay. Also, you’re fighting a system along the way…and that is HARD work. It is HARD being counter-cultural. It is hard seeing the world differently. It is HARD working against the very system that is supposed to be educatin g your child but is instead doing the very opposite.

    1. Jen

      A-MEN!

  10. Anne Kearns

    Been there. Have 4 kids – and many school issues. They are grown now and all happy adults with kids of their own. Keep this in mind.
    We fought many fights with schools. Won some and lost some. You know your kids better than the school does. Be on their side (but ensure they are learning). Let them know that they are doing fine (or not) no matter what the teacher says. They will listen.
    Good luck.

    1. Jen

      Thanks. Perspective is hard to find when advocating for your kid, especially with a school. 🙂

  11. Suzanne

    Can you hire a governess for the two of them? Cheaper than private school, more parental control, and it totally takes the emotion out of the teaching…

    I feel for you, sister.

    1. Jen

      God, I wish. But it is just not remotely financially possible. :p

  12. BeckyG

    this post pretty much sums up why my husband and I are suddenly planning on only one child… what is the second is the same as the first!? I don’t know if we’d live through it. I feel for you… Love the haircut, by the way.

    1. Jen

      Until the last few months, the second one was NOTHING like the first. That was something that kept me awake at night before J was born. MY GOD, WHAT IF HE’S LIKE HIS BROTHER I CAN’T DO THIS! LOL
      Thanks! I may even go shorter this summer. With color. 🙂

  13. Jodie

    Sending you a virtual hug and empathetic ear. My daughter is also having similar writing issues in second grade, and I’m not sure it’s the fine motor writing issue, the fact that writing reading responses is so open-ended that her perfection induced panic sets in, or the fact that she also resists anything she has to work at. We’ve tried her having a checklist of things to do at school to help her stay on task with assignments, and that seems to help. Your son sounds so much like my daughter, that I wish you well. Just remember that they will grow up, and become wonderful men. It’s just the getting there that is CRAZY.

    1. Jen

      Yeah, they sure sound a lot alike!
      Agh. Hard to remember that they’ll grow up, and more than likely be ok. The between here and then is killing me.

  14. NerdDad

    My wife and I have been fighting the (writing = hard) situation with the oldest of our 2e “blessings” for a couple of years now. The school doesn’t get it. The kiddo doesn’t get it. Nothing we try helps and it makes the whole family a gigantic piss-pot of turmoil 5 days a week. And, of course, the whole thing scares the crap out of me because I can only assume that it’s going to get exponentially worse when middle school comes along.

    I can’t offer any answers. All I can do is shout out a TREMENDOUS THANK YOU to you for all you do. Your words give voice to all of us treading the same waters. Here’s to hoping all our over-excitable geniuses do something to make the world a better place for others like them in adulthood, because it’s awful damn difficult to be them and their parents right here, right now.

  15. Kimi Ymigues

    (((Jen)))
    My son’s dad has great insurance, so we had him tested for sensory processing issues in third grade and again by a different neuropsychologist in 7th.

    He has dysgraphia. If you tell him to write an essay, he’ll give you one-and-a-half lines. In fourth grade he read Johnny Tremain in no time, but stalled on the book report. Finally, the-night-before-it-was-due (forehead smack) I just wanted the tears to stop, so I told him to type the first draft on the computer. “No! The teacher won’t let me!!!” I said, I’ll deal with the teacher. So the kid sat down, and pounded out a 5,000 word book report. The next morning, he got up early, sat down, and copied it, word for word, in ink, single spaced, on college lined paper.

    The computer makes all the difference, because their thoughts can flow. Dictating into a recorder. Illustrating and dictating the words to you.

    You can request testing for your younger son. he may qualify for an IEP.

    Been there, still trying to get my sometimes B sometimes D student through the system. He looks a lot like me, high standardized test scores, bad grades because homework is a chore. Good luck.

  16. Lya Laberge

    You sound like you’re where I was about three months ago. Two gifted boys. Two different Special Needs (Aspeger’s and ADHD) all blowing up on me at once. Then I found a wonderful psychologist for the oldest that is making him do more self-regulation and the boy scouts, which is making him take more responsibility for making sure he has what he needs. And…things are smoother.

    I honestly believe parents like us suffer from PTSD. We go through the week cringing, just waiting for the things that are going right to blow up because the trigger is often completely obscure, impossible to figure out, so we can’t prevent the sudden issues.

    Hang in there. This too will pass.:)

    1. Jen

      I know my cortisol levels are through the roof on a regular basis, hence the 30 pounds I need to lose. Things will be better soon, summer will be here, and it’s all good. It has to be. 😉

  17. Ingi

    I can’t believe I missed this post. Well, I say – I KNOW!!!

    If the assessment didn’t cost nearly $1000, I would have taken my DD along too, because although she hasn’t been as difficult as my son, she too dithers about with writing tasks, loses concentration, interrupts constantly, won’t take “no” for an answer.

    We homeschool her too – but I kind of do a lot separately – the writing and the maths and some science. It’s nowhere near as much “volume” as they would be doing at school, but it’s years ahead in level.

    And I know what you mean about cortisol and weight.

    Anyway big hugs and let us know how you get on.

    1. Jen

      We just can’t afford to test J any time soon. I don’t know what we would learn from it either. Then again, he would probably surprise the hell out of us. LOL!

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