sometimes, the results are less than ideal.
What began as a honeymoon some 7 months ago ends today, with my Haitian Sensations attending public school, starting tomorrow.
For the past few months, the uphill task of educating my trauma twins has been icing up.
It started with little things, like leaving out letters in their names, or insisting that they never learned that 4 comes after 3.
For a long time, I'd say, "Uh oh, looks like Keenan is too tired to remember how to spell his name. Better go up and take a breather on your bed until you feel stronger and can remember how many "e's" you have."
At first, he'd be up there, pitching a fit for 2 or 3 hours. Then, he'd stomp up and sit on his bed sullenly for 60 minutes. It slowly dropped down to 30 minutes, then 10. For a while, he'd go up, plunk his butt down, hop back up and have it fixed within 30 seconds.
But then, suddenly, it escalated into a flat-out refusal to do work. Each day became: "Good. I don't want to do this anyways. I'd rather sit on my bed/do a chore/etc."
He'd sit there smugly, knowing there's nothing I could do about it.
Miles wasn't much different. He would do math fine for the first few problems, but then before we got to the end of the page, he'd freeze up. Circular discussions always ensued. "Why aren't you doing your math nicely?"
"Because I don't like math and I want to play."
"How many problems do you have to go until you play?"
"So why don't you do you math nicely and then play?"
"Because I'm mad I have to do math."
Over and over. Rinse and repeat. Always coming back to: "I don't want to do math/reading/school because I'm angry that I have to do math/reading school."
Insert second smug-faced child into bedroom.
The counselor would tell me, "He's smug like that because in his mind he just won."
Not sh#t, sherlock.
But the bottom line is that this is a 7-year old child who does not know what he wants or what he needs to survive in this world. If he thinks that sitting on his bed, bored and learning nothing is winning, he's clearly losing, and it's my job as Mama to intervene.
What can I do?
I can't force him to do his math worksheets.
I can't force a child to learn to read.
I can, and have, incentivized, candy-vized, stickers, cartwheels, extra boob tube time, extra outside time, all for nada. I have issued chores, lectured, allowed children to be really, really bored.
I'm amazed by the people who can't figure out just why I can't make them do their work. Y'all think a little spanking's gonna work? I could promise you that I if I beat the kid until they were black and blue and in the hospital, and he'd just come home tomorrow and not do his math.
These boys of mine spent 4 years in a Haitian orphanage-- you really think a sticker, sucker, spanking or grounding is really gonna make them do math for me? Any amount of boredom, any chore, any sort of unhappy feeling here in America is a million times better than what they had in Haiti.
So that's half of it. The other half is that I can't spend over half my day, day in, day out, trying to constantly disengage from the boys' games with their schoolwork. It's not fair to any of the other kids who are working hard each day to try and figure out a tough math problem when Keenan's upstairs kicking his feet against the wall, screaming, "Ow! My Feet!"
I can't use up all of our energy and oxygen on trying to keep a "normal" feeling in the house for those kids maintaining.
I've done it before and I will not do it again. I will give the greatest energy/oxygen to those who are "using their powers for good" or "playing in the boundaries" or what have you.
I will give everything I can to helping pull my boys through, but I will not let their crazy come at the expense of their sibling's education.
I know that sounds harsh, or mean, or unfair, but it's the way it is. I have tried every trick, plot, therapeutic parenting technique in the book, but I will not let their issues run the show in our house.
I do not tie my own pride or value into this. I am a person, and I am a mother. I try my best with all my kids.
But, I will not breath oxygen into the fire of their manipulative games.
I will do everything I can to equip them with everything they need: I employ a great therapist, I constantly read and try to learn more and do better, and I am committed to their education and recognize that if they aren't learning from me, then I best send them to someone from whom they can learn.
I have one child who is 30 reading lessons behind, and that's padding it with the "trauma factor," alotting 2 days/lesson instead of expecting a completed lesson each day. I have two who move at a snail's pace through math, all in the name of "it makes me mad to have to do math." Ugh.
I homeschool for a multitude of reasons, but the first and foremost is a serious education.
So, off they go.
I have worked far too hard---my boys have worked far too hard-- on attachment and building a family love and understanding to let homeschool undermine it.
I was really hoping that teaching them to read would come across as a loving, bonding activity as it had with the other children.
Yet, it hasn't. And that's okay.
My role with them is Mommy who Loves them and Cares for them.
Not Mommy who Educates them.
Does it make me sad? Yes. I've grieved over this. It seems so unfair that Trauma can take this away from us.
But, I'm okay with it, too. I love those boys, and I'll meet them where they're at.
And starting tomorrow, that will be by the monkey bars every day at 2:55 p.m.