June 05, 2010

I'm a Believer

This year was the hardest year of parenting that I can recollect. So much never makes it on here. I try to remember only the good, because I'm trying hard for the bad to not leave a mark upon my soul.

Parenting is so dang hard.

This year, I swear I've never been so humiliated. Things I've never put out here, nor will I ever, making me eight shades of embarrassed, praying that the ground will just swallow me up. Things I share with no one... what happens in the family, stays in the family.

I have a coworker whose wife just had a baby. They make me laugh quietly to myself, so much control they think they have over their lives. You want a lesson in losing control? Have yourself some kids. You'll realize quickly that the Master of your Domain, you aren't.

He started with, 'Our baby is coming early' to which I smiled sweetly and said, "Robert, everyone thinks their baby is coming early. They don't."

It went to, "Modern medicine interferes too much. We aren't doing all that, we're going with a midwife." I smiled sweetly and said, "Yeah, it's a nice thought, but sometimes it doesn't work out that way..."

He said, "Oh we've planned our entire birth and how it's going to be..." and he described about it being at home with a warm bath and on and on. I smiled sweetly and said, "Yeah, I had my birth for my first planned out as well..."

Nothing ever goes as planned. Notice I didn't say I had my birth planned for my subsequent children. I'd learned. From the minute you find yourself pregnant, you might as well learn right then who's in control. Oh sure, you can guide and plan, but in the blink of an eye, everything goes sideways and you're looking for back up plans and Hail Mary passes.

Their baby was born safe and sound, a week past due date, by Csection, in a hospital, by a surgeon, no warm bath involved.

I said to my co-workers, "And let the games begin!"

My first birth going wonky was just the beginning and ever since I've been on some crazy rollercoaster, that I spend half the time relishing and the other half praying it will stop.

Lately I've been praying for stopping more often. This is the first year I've had to pray so fervently for strength as the scientific fight or flight had taken over way too many times, with flight nearly winning until the voice of reason needled in my heart, "Good Mamas don't run. They stay..."

Otherwise, I'd be gone. I feel certain. If I had an ounce of insanity within this brain, I'd have run. Far away.

But I'm here.

I spend a lot of time asking my boys, "What do you want to do? Where do you see yourself in five years?" I don't ask this of Bones, obviously, because the boy can't figure out what he wants in five hours, let alone five years. It's a combination of his being too young and there not being a linear thought in that flaky blonde head.

The child is a scattershot. Connect all the dots and you might as well be looking at the random travel stops of a fly. It makes no sense.

But my other boys, I get feedback.

"Mom, I want to go to Suncoast and study math science and engineering" comes one reply, and I try to set into motion, with push back from some school admin, anything that is required to make it happen, including him taking a course this summer with me as his personal tutor. I will go against my natural grain and try to be diplomatic and patient as I try to wheedle my way to make it happen for him.

"I have no clue, Mom. No clue. In five years? I want to go to school where it snows", comes one answer. I reply with, "Well, we need better grades if you're going somewhere where is snows." He remains thoughtful, "Do you think Son#4 still wants to go to Boston College? I could do that..." I look over at him, as we're in the car (of course) and say, "Mmm. Not sure. But, he has the grades to get into BC. Baby, you don't. You need to study more..."

"I want to go to Georgia Tech and study engineering, Mom", is another response. I set about doing research, where is the best place for him to go to high school and get into GT? What type of SATs are required? What does he need to do to help him test better, should he be reading more? I research what kinds of books he needs to help his reading comprehension and vocabulary. I talk to parents whose kids get accepted to GT and those that don't, and I look for a pattern.

"I think, maybe, I'd like to be a heart surgeon" pops out of the mouth of one son. I sit there thinking, mulling, pondering, "Well, you need more A's. You don't become a surgeon without more A's, son. We need to work harder and take more science." I start thinking about who to call for him to observe surgery. He's volunteering at a hospital this summer... I'm hoping I can see if he can observe on live TV or something.

"Mom, I want to get married out of college. I think I want kids around age 28" comes one off the wall reply one afternoon. I sit there speechless. He continues, "I want to be a young parent..." I think of my sister in law and brother in law who just had a baby at ages 44 and 47. I reply, "Well, I can't help you much with that. We'll have to see how that works out for you... "

"Mom, I've been thinking I want to understand the economy and how this stock thing works..." and he asks detailed questions wondering exactly what you do if you get your degree in Finance. I text a buddy of mine who has his degree in Finance out in CA and is sharp as nails. He texts me back, surprised at the details of the questions my son asks and provides a good long answer. I hand the phone to my son, so he can read and comprehend on his own.

With Bones, I'm at a loss. Every day... I'm lost. I try, my husband works with him at night, I wring my hands, I worry and I say to myself, "This is the kid who could fail out of high school. Will anyone help us?"

I already have him in the high risk category. I've gotten him the lessons to help him get into the school he belongs in, but we're so afraid he's going to fail out. I pray every night, "Dear Lord, please let us pass. Please let him remember to turn in his work. Please let him stay organized when he's out of our reaches. Please let the light turn on so he can learn..."

I call the ESE specialist already, paperwork in hand, trying to head it off. She tells me to wait until FCAT trials in the Fall... they'll reassess when they see how he does in the FCATs. They can get him help when they see for themselves.

I feel the sinking in my gut. My humiliation for him. He cannot pass a standardized test. He never has. I tell her that over the phone. She simply says they have to see it.

I take a deep breath and say I understand. They'll be hearing from me in the Fall.

And this summer we work on reading, and we work on finally hammering down his multiplication tables, and we work on fractions, and how they work, and I am the cheerleader when he says, 'I CAN'T DO THIS! WHY IS MATH SO HARD?" as inside I realize, he might as well be looking at heiroglyphics, numbers make no sense to him.

And I wonder to myself, "What lesson are you teaching me, Lord? Giving me a child that does not understand numbers is like giving Faulkner a child that will never learn to read nor appreciate the nuances of language."

And I pray for no phone calls next year. I pray that I get a teacher who wants to help instead of with her arms crossed over her chest wondering what kind of parent I am to have a child like Bones.

I want to scream at them how I love him to the depths of my soul and how I will die for him, that they have to look a little closer, a little bit harder, for they would see it too. They would see the goodness within him and want to help.

I pray an awful lot.

And next year will be no different.

This year left marks. I pray that next year... doesn't.

Nobody ever told me that raising children was so gut wrenchingly hard. Or maybe they did... and I just didn't get it.

I'm a believer now.

I am.

Posted by Boudicca at June 5, 2010 09:43 PM

If you need a break from tutoring... no charge, I'll come help. I know what it's like to tutor your own children. It sucks. Oh, I will be doing it to for the oldest and his dysgraphia but it sucks. Just let me know and I'll make the drive out there.

Posted by: vwbug at June 6, 2010 06:39 AM

VW- It'll be OK. The public school gave us this site we can use, and I'm hoping it helps. And Bones said to me, "We just have to do this in the morning or afternoon when you aren't so tired. You get too frustrated at night." So starting tomorrow, we'll be setting down a time of day, when we work through it.

Curtis- I think he'll go into sales or communications. He has an amazing ability with people... except teachers. They seem to hate him as of late. But regular people really really like him. I'd like for him to keep singing though, theater as well, as I think they'll be good outlets on the side.

Posted by: Bou at June 6, 2010 08:43 AM

Bou - My brother-in-law is a born salesman, and he has done very well by himself. He has gone from selling paint, to agricultural equipment, to rifle scopes and other optical equipment (corporate sales), moving up the ladder with each new job. The people skills are valuable!

Posted by: PeggyU at June 6, 2010 11:21 AM

bPeggy- They are. I've told people for years that he could very well be my most successful child. But none of this matters if we can't get through high school. The next seven years promise to be torturous.

Posted by: bou at June 6, 2010 12:22 PM

Bou -my heart aches for you and Bones. How horrible for teachers to make those kinds of feelings apparent to Bones, let alone you. I'll be praying for you and your family for the coming school year.

Posted by: Kris, in New England at June 6, 2010 12:30 PM

No one gets it until they have to do it. I cringe when I hear some young women and all the "plans" they have and how perfect everything will be. Some of them honestly scare me - they are total control freaks. No way will their child ever live up to what they have planned. I see looming disaster. Heh.

You have hit the hardest years of parenting. This age group. Keep plugging, keep dragging Bones along. Do your best. That's all you can do. As an observation from an outsider who doesn't have to do all the work, your boys are doing great. They may have difficulties, they may not have the type of focus you would like them to have, they may not know what they want to do... but they are great people. You have got that particular battle under control and that is the one that will carry them the farthest in this world.

Posted by: Teresa at June 6, 2010 03:05 PM

If your son really wants to be any type of Engineer you need to visit Engineering Society websites. I know that the Society of Manufacturing Engineers offers a summer school for kids that teaches "engineering" in fun ways. To bad you don't live in Michigan, Michigan (the state) is all about engineering (you know, Henry Ford and all that). The Henry Ford museum and Greenfield Village actually has a technical school (middle and high) that actually teaches students from a technical (math, engineering, etc) standpoint.

Check out the Engineering societies websites, they all have information for kids on their sites (I only know about Society of Manf Engineers and the Society of Automotive Engineers, but there are sites for all types of engineers).

Posted by: Quality Weenie at June 6, 2010 08:03 PM

QW beat me to it. Some time before Bones graduates come visit the Henry Ford (and Greenfield Village). Amazing stuff including the chair Lincoln was sitting in at Ford's Theater and the limo JFK was in at Dallas. ... And the bus Rosa Parks rode (but she wasn't shot).

So Bones has a hard time with arithmetic. How about feeding him some algebra. Get him to do fractions with letters. It might be more visual for him. It does make it easier to see GCDs.

Posted by: The Thomas at June 6, 2010 09:58 PM

Urge him on the navy. We can use them. I was four times a Chief Engineer. Best job in the world. My very best engineering teacher was a Music Major at Colorado.

Making stuff work.

Creating and designing stuff? well, somebody has to do it but why bother if you can make the stuff work?

Posted by: Curtis at June 6, 2010 10:18 PM

QW- That's an excellent idea! I'm going to have to look into that. We have Scripps down here too... there has to be some stuff he can look into.

Thomas- I was just telling my Dad and Mom, I think the problem with Bones has been approach. I don't blame that on the teachers at all. They have 30 kids they have to teach and Bones is an outlier. I have to figure out what HE sees. Its going to be an interesting summer.

Curtis- We are currently talking about that to Mr. T, mainly Seabee. My grandfather was one, an electrician in WWII. For T, we've been talking NROTC possibly going to GT. If he can go Seabee, maybe the Navy will put him through for his Masters as well. It's all just possibilities, but if we go NROTC, we need to start planning that now as he needs a sport to go along with his Eagle Scout and great grades.

Posted by: Bou at June 6, 2010 10:37 PM

Another suggestion might be autobiographies. People don't think they are interesting but I love them.

Lee Iacocoa has a great biograhpy, his first book is the best.

Henry Ford
Jack Welch (GE's CEO, or could be former CEO)

Or other great engineering minds biographies.

And even "The Machine that ran the world" It's how Toyota learned from Henry Ford (do you all know that Toyota's manufacturing system is actually Henry Ford's idea but Toyota ran with it).

Posted by: Quality Weenie at June 7, 2010 08:10 AM