I got a note from El Fuego's teacher about some homework he was supposed to do. He had turned up at school the next day without it finished. (In fact, he didn't even start it.) At first, I felt super guilty for not following through and making sure he was up to par. Like I schluffed on my duties as a parent. I did tell him to get his homework out. And, he did sit at the table for about forty-five minutes with his work in front of him. Then he cleaned it all up, put it away in his backpack and went about his business. I assumed he did his work. What he was doing actually, I have no idea. I never went through his backpack to check. If I'm being honest, I really just forgot to check because like every night, the night time routines are crazy busy.
Then I shook some sense into myself. I am NOT here to micro-manage my children. What valuable lessons do they learn if I'm the one always dotting i's and crossing t's? A helicopter parent that hovers over every little task is so not me. Life Under the Big Top has been talking about "free range parenting" and this book. I've since found Lenore Skenazy's blog. Good stuff people!
Sort of unconsciously and sort of on purpose, I had been stepping back from El Fuego's school work responsibilities. Leaving him to lean on himself rather than me. He is in fourth grade after all. Study habits and organizational skills have been put in place last year. As bad as this might sound, I've been waiting for him to fail more or less. I really want my ten year old to learn that when he doesn't put his best effort forward, then he doesn't succeed. My hope is not succeeding will feel bad to him therefor he will put forth more thought and effort the next time. Learning lessons the hard way is the best way! And, I want him to learn these very valuable lessons now when the cost is cheaper.
So I wrote his teacher back explaining my reasoning. I let her in on the arguments El Fuego and I have had over his lack of applying himself. And, how I have been actively trying to find something that motivates him without hovering over him.
His teacher wrote me back stating "YOU are awesome!" Yes, with capitalization and everything. Which put her right up there in the fabulous teacher category in my book not only because she thinks 'I'm awesome', but because she agrees with me when it comes to these lessons of learning. She also wrote: I'm confident he will figure out that "If he puts in the honest effort, Then he will succeed." Three cheers for great teachers!! And, three cheers for being on the same page with great teachers!!
Finding motivation for El Fuego has always been difficult. He has never been a 'regular' kid per say. He is gregarious and precocious and mischievous and filled to the rim with charisma. I find these traits of his inspiring and frustrating all at the very same time. He is a difficult kid that keeps me having to be two steps ahead of the game at any given moment. Frankly, it's exhausting!
I'm testing a new motivation out. Money. Cold hard cash! My reasoning is this: In life, adults work. If they apply themselves and do a good job then they get paid. In dollars. I thought about what amount of money would sound like a lot to a ten year old. So, I told El Fuego if he earned himself all 4's in academic subjects on a report card, I would pay him one hundred dollars no strings attached. All 4's equals straight A's. His rebuttal was "you are just saying that because you know I won't get all 4's". Which made me feel a little sad. I told him I KNEW he could do it and how it might not be easy but that I had confidence in his abilities. He is a savvy kid after all. I'm holding my ground, staying true to my word and not hovering. We shook on it even. I believe he can do it.
All he needs is to believe in himself....
Sometimes that is the hardest lesson to learn of all.