I never wanted to be a teacher. Growing up I wasn’t a kid person. Whenever I found myself babysitting neighborhood children, I would lose all patience and put them in their rooms until mom and dad came home. When I was single and childless, kids would annoy me. I would make snide comments about kids in stores and how their parents should be able to control them. *Pause for all the laughter I can hear coming from those who know my son Red* Wanting kids didn’t even enter my head until I met my husband.
These days I now find myself spending the majority of my day with just kids. Curls is in school two days a week and the rest of the time it is her, Red, and I, until that glorious moment when hubby walks in the door and whoever gets to him the fastest wins. I have talked endlessly about how I home school Curls and how it has its ups and downs. What I have not mentioned is that I do preschool stuff with Red four days a week. I did this with Curls and she was able to adjust to kindergarten, no problem. Hubby and I chose not to put either of them in preschool for two reasons. One, it costs money we don’t have. Two, I have several friends who are teachers and have concluded that I don’t need to send my kids somewhere to do stuff that I can do at home. Both kids are pretty socialized and get along with kids their own age. But that isn’t to say that I don’t think preschool has it’s benefits. If we weren’t on a tight budget, I would be perusing the internet looking for a place to send my babies to. But as it is, we don’t and I am home teaching Red how to read, write, and try not to act like a spaz when he leaves the house.
With Curls, I have a lesson plan that is emailed to me each week. Every Sunday, I print out what needs to be done, I fill out the appropriate spaces, and organize everything in the order they need to be completed. It gives me a sense of order in the chaos that is our life (otherwise known as being a control freak). But with Red, I am a fly by the seat of my pants kind of gal. We focus on the letters one day, numbers the next. We do flashcards, worksheets, and color. He is antsy, temperamental, and gets frustrated easily. And this is where my problem lies.
I may have my issues with Curls and her school work, but she picks up things easily. With Red, he loses focus quickly (he has the attention span of a 4 year old, what do you know?) When he doesn’t get something that I try to teach him, he pouts and doesn’t want to keep going. He doesn’t follow directions. I can only do stuff with him 30 minutes a day because that is all I can bear. Some days I don’t know if I have the energy to even do that much. When I talk to hubby about it, I complain that Red doesn’t get it like Curls does. I tell him it’s too hard. That Curls is the smart one. Red isn’t dumb, he just requires more attention. When I started letting myself think like this, the voices in my head screamed a resounding, “STOP!” I knew then that I was putting both of my kids in a box.
Growing up I was the smart one. Reading was all I did and I got good grades. My sister was the pretty one. Her nicknames focused on her physical features. Mine I will not even make public. So I grew up thinking I wasn’t attractive. In turn, my sister probably didn’t think she was smart. I don’t think we were put in these roles intentionally. It just happened. But as a result, I have never thought of myself as good looking. It has shaped my behavior and my self esteem has never been what it should be. Because of this, I want to make the effort to not put my kids through the same thing. They are two separate people, with individual personalities. One characteristic doesn’t define them. Labeling them at a young age would be easy. But that would be detrimental to Curls and Red. I need to remind myself that Curls was not easy at the beginning of kindergarten. Her and I were both overwhelmed with the amount of schoolwork. I didn’t know what I was doing and would snap at her when she didn’t understand what I was trying to explain to her. Now it is much easier. I have had the time to know what motivates her and how to teach her. Red is smart, it just takes different methods for him to comprehend what is in front of him. And yes, some days it feels like I am being repeatedly burned with a hot poker when he is bouncing off the walls and doesn’t care what the word c-a-t spells.
My kids will fall into roles as they progress through their school years. And it is my job to help them realize they are whole people with many different character traits. They are not a stereotype that will hinder them and their abilities. I won’t always succeed with this (I suspect I will fail A LOT) but I can only keep trying. I may have never been a kid person but with Curls and Red, I finally see what the fuss is about.