Friday, March 14, 2014

Stop! Thief!

I've been thinking about writing this post for awhile. But I didn't want to sound whiny. And there is also the privacy factor for my kids, which is hard now that they are teens. But maybe I can start with a caveat that I am very proud of my children and I love them very much. :) So any whiny-ness is just my own stupid problem.

Yesterday, a friend of mine posted this picture on her Facebook timeline:

It really inspired me to think about what I've been wanting to write. I realized that this is a very true statement. It is especially important to me because "Joy" is my word of the year, and I have been finding it very hard to find Joy in homeschooling.

The post I was wanting to write is a little embarrassing for me, because it's admitting that I have dropped the ball. On purpose. So I'm going to own up to it in the hopes that, by doing so, I can hold myself accountable to rectifying the situation. Also, maybe this will help someone who may be reading and experience a similar problem.

OK, here we go:

I haven't done math or writing with Austin in 2 weeks.

A collective gasp comes from the readership of the Black Pearl Academy blog. And my head sinks.

It's awful, I know.

You know what makes it even more awful? The reason.

It's because I just cannot face working on math and writing with him right now.  I cannot explain again the difference between a line and an angle. I cannot bear to watch him try to remember the word "perpendicular" and it won't come, and he's got his hands up in a cross trying to show me what it looks like. I cannot look into his eyes again as his 12 year old sister whispers the answer to his high school geometry lesson because she has heard us go over and over and over it, and she hates to see him not know the answer. I cannot read another "paper" that consists of 3 sentences that make absolutely no sense and have so many easy words spelled wrong. And realizing that most of the paper is made up from what he "knows" about the topic because he has no comprehension of what he just read in the book.

None of this is his fault. I know that! Learning has always been hard for him and I have patiently spent the last 11.5 years working with him day in and day out and trying everything under the sun to try to help him learn to the best of his ability. But I am burned out! He is so frustrated, and yet he continues day in and day out to get up and try his best. Even though I haven't been doing math with him, I see him reading the lessons and trying to figure out what they mean. And then I see him put the math book away and we sort of look at each other. He knows that I'm not pushing the issue. I hope it doesn't make him feel worse.

So now we have the "Comparison" sentence pop up. I know that's the problem (along with the burnout). We joined a homeschool group this year, and I am guilty of comparing my kids with everyone else's. And especially when it comes to Austin. Kids his age, including his friends, are starting to get acceptances to the colleges of their choice. And I am thrilled for them. Truly! But I'm also sad for Austin. And you know what? Let me be honest - I'm sad for me. Insert the pouty mom here. Yeah, my kid struggles and I am whining about it.

No wonder I am not experiencing joy in homeschooling. It's not anyone's fault but my own. I am letting comparison (among my own children, between my children and other children, and even between the children I wasn't given but for some reason feel like I was entitled to) rob me of the joy I'm supposed to have in all circumstances. In fact, I'm supposed to embrace the troubles and trials WITH JOY because it will help me develop a strong character. (James 1 - and my verse for this year @@)

Austin embodies that better than I do. He may not express joy in the struggling, but he has never once come to me and said, "Mom, I don't want to do this anymore. I am OVER school and I am just not going to do it!" I couldn't blame him if he did. I know how discouraging it has been for me as a teacher. And I know how discouraging it is when you're trying to learn something new and it's hard and you don't really get it - my tap class last week is the perfect example (BTW, time steps are of the devil!). And he has been experiencing that feeling for years - over a decade! His psychiatrist - he sees one for anxiety and OCD - asked me this winter to reduce his academic load to help with the stress he is feeling. And Austin replied, "No way! I'm not a slacker!"

I feel ashamed of myself.

So now I need to stop feeling sorry for myself, and get my act together. If I have to explain the difference between a line and an angle again, so be it. Maybe one of these days I'll come up with THE way that will connect with him. I think I'm going to look into IEW writing again since I've heard that it's good for kids with LDs.


Anonymous said...

Big hugs to you.

On a more practical note, are you still using Jacobs Geometry with Austin? If so, I just wanted to mention that it is a really, really hard book. My son who is supposedly gifted in math couldn't do it, and we ended up switching to something easier after three chapters.

Niffercoo said...

Yes, he's using Jacob's. That makes me feel better to know it's a harder book. What did you use instead?

Anonymous said...

We switched to Teaching Textbooks. I know TT has a reputation for being behind, but their geometry course was not at all (though it did assume that the student had less algebra than Jacobs did). It was a straightforward presentation and the review problems with every lesson were helpful too. This was a while ago, so we were using the first edition that didn't have automated grading. The new edition will even grade proofs, though I suspect that it does so by making them the fill in the blank variety rather than having the student do them from scratch (though I don't know for sure). Even if that is the case, Austin will get a good geometry education with TT. Also if you don't like the video lectures, you can just use the book as a textbook, which is what I would probably do if I were to TT again.

Good luck!

Wee Pip said...

Awww, virtual bloggy hugs to you! It is HARD homeschooling. Store these things up, because I just know that you will be a blessing in another struggling mom's life, someone going through the same thing you are going through now. You already are a blessing through your honest posts. It sorta makes the hard stuff a little more endurable, knowing that you can serve God and love others through it. Hang in there; you're doing a fantastic job!