Saturday, April 15, 2006

On Control

We were at class the other day and T was running and playing, and generally disrupting class (at this point, class was outside.)I was trying not to get upset, but I was pretty stressed about it. He would get up and run around, and I would say "Shall we go, or do you want to attend class?" He wanted to stay with his homeschool friends, but of course he wanted to play. It got to a point that I called him over, and he refused to come to me. I told him I wanted to talk with him, but still he refused.
Very upset at this point, my son was not listening to me, was not cooperating in class, was being disruptive, aggravating me, and I was feeling foolish, I took him (physically) aside and asked him what the deal was. We went to the car to have our talk. He told me that he didn't want to come to me because he was afraid I was going to be mad. My interpretation of this as his mother, and knowing my actions that day is "You might yell at me." "You might put me in time out. Again." "You might threaten that we have to go home. Again". "You are angry, shouting, frustrated, and just want to tell me that I may not have fun and run and play with my friends and enjoy this lovely spring day and so I am going to avoid you like the plague."
We have since told everyone that we will not be attending any more of our group classes. Not as punishment to my son, but to save our relationship. He is not ready to sit down with 12 other children and listen to instruction. Friends are for playing, laughing, chasing, tackling, shouting, running, helping, hugging, and loving. They are not for sitting next to in a circle and not interacting with.
In the last couple of weeks as I notice my own volatile emotions and reactions, I have wondered if it's not some sort of hyper-sensitivity. I cannot say that I am super sensitive to things all the time, but more often than not.Sometimes the clicking of a keyboard drives me nearly mad. Physically bothers my ears, it's so loud. Yesterday we went to lunch (3:00) and the music was making me really tense. Then when we were seated, the voice of the person behind me was just as bad. I had to re-group, I knew that if I didn't take a few deep breaths and get control of it, soon I would be consumed by it.E can feel a mild irritation, but his grunts and sighs nearly send me screaming from the room.
If my house is dirty I cannot feel any peace or tranquility. My nerves are raw, I am extremely short tempered, and physically exploding is just a hair's-breadth away at any given second.Anyway, this leaves me wondering if my son does not have some of the same sensitivity as I do.
He's always been a sweet, sensitive child, but as he has gotten older, I have sort of discounted it.
Discounted him?
Somewhere along the way I started behaving as if my child is an extension of myself, instead of a complete person unto himself. That he only exists as far as I think he exists. What the hell is that? I know that's not true. But my actions have been as if it is.I whole-heartedly believe in Radical Unschooling. I know with every thing I am that young children and babies are complete people, and that they should have the same rights to freedom, happiness, and life that we (as adults) do. Even if you don't believe in RU - I think we can all admit that childhood should be filled with magic, wonder, light, joy, and splendor. Children should be encouraged in their lives, (in the making of themselves) not told what to do and criticized, there is plenty of time for that in adulthood, if you so choose it.
When I remember to view life this way, and respect my child's life, I see him, and me, in a completely different light.T came to my husband and I as a complete person/spirit. It is not my duty or right to make him into what I think he should be. I don't have the right to change what he is, what he wants to be, and I don't get to choose for him what he might someday become.My job as his mother is to assist him. To support, uplift, encourage, protect, aid, facilitate, and love him.
I get to be the grown up, and sometimes remind him that grown-ups can understand and see things that children cannot, and we can foresee problems that might come up a bit better than the inexperienced.
I get to say "Hey, do you wanna play on the computer?" (reading, games, dinosaurs, coloring, whatever.)
I get to say "Want me to help you clean your room?"
I get to strew the path with interesting things.I get to make suggestions.I get to point things out so that we might learn from them.
I get to say "Hey, do you wanna....?"But I don't get to make the choice for him.

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