These days I find I am giving myself little lessons in parenting (or rather how not to parent) quite often. This latest education did a number on me.
My son came home from school last week with information on an after-school program that was going to culminate in an academic competition in January. I immediately dismissed it as junk and put it in the recycling container.
Imagine my surprise when later in the next week a note was in my son's binder saying that he had signed up to try out for two events. I thought I told him no, like I do to just about everything that comes home in that folder (book orders, cookie dough fundraisers, spirit night at local restaurants, etc).
I didn't want him to do it because it would be a major inconvenience for me. It would mean I would pick up his sister at school at 3:15 and then return at 4:15 to pick him up twice a week. Remember how much I hate picking up from school? Now it get to do it two more round-trips each week.
I explained to my son that out of 90 kids they would be selecting 5 to compete and that he was signing up for try-outs only. I was discouraging him from trying because the odds were fairly low that he would make the cuts. I would be irritated twice a week with extra school runs, and he would be heartbroken. I was trying to save us both.
And then I realized that I was basically telling my kid that he wasn't the brightest and shouldn't even try because he wasn't going to be in the top 5. What kind of parent does that? Had the subjects been math or science I might have agreed without contest, but the areas of competition that his grade level could participate in were creative writing and storytelling.
If you knew my son you would know that getting him to read for 20 minutes every day is one of our struggles. Encouraging him to write may even be a bigger challenge. He is brief to say the least. Over the summer I had to fight with him for 4 sentences about a subject he liked!
We'd been trying to get him involved in something: karate, football, cycling, running and he showed zero interest. How could he possibly want to do this, he doesn't seem to even like it!
A good parent would be encouraging their child! He finally says something that he wants to do and my first response is no!
Guess who is trying out for the creative writing and storytelling team? We talked about it, and I pulled the permission slip out of the recycling bin and reluctantly signed it. Time to start helping and encouraging. Time to paste that smile on my face when I have visited the school parking lot for the third time that day. Finally, he shows interest in something that isn't electronic - I am happy about that.
Maybe this will actually get him interested in reading and writing, and maybe he will even make the cut.