Quietly celebrating.

>> Friday, 23 February 2018

Yesterday evening my son came home from school, took off his tie and blazer, sat down at the table, had a snack, and did two pieces of homework. Just sat down, and did them.  Dinner followed, and then he chilled out in front of the television.

Whilst this might not seem remarkable in itself, I can tell you that in this house, it is.

For various reasons that I'm not going to go into, homework can be an issue for him - and consequently for me, too.  And if it's an issue for me, then of course it follows that that spills over into the rest of the family's lives, too.

Looking back over the last three years or so it seems as if 99% of school evenings have featured some kind of confrontation about homework.  The weekends too, if I'm honest.  I'm of the belief that if there's homework to be done it might as well be dealt with on a Friday night or a Saturday morning; that way, we can relax for the rest of the weekend.  My son, however, is of the opposite opinion; as far as he's concerned it's best ignored until the very last moment at which point, amid much shouting, stamping around, obfuscation, and wailing and gnashing of teeth, it is tortuously completed.

It's frustrating to watch; both my husband I know this is what will happen and consequently try (usually fruitlessly) to circumvent it by encouraging him to break the pattern and instead complete the tasks sooner rather than later.  Unfortunately this sensible approach is not one our child subscribes to, so the resulting confrontations often lead to the entire weekend being held hostage to the completion of the damn homework.

If your child is of a similar profile you might recognise these statements: 'In a moment...  I'll do it later... Just let me finish this lego model/chapter/episode/game/toilet trip (delete as appropriate)...' and so on.  Then, of course, when he has finished whatever it is he's using as a delaying tactic, instead of just dealing with it, he uses another.

Looking at it from the outside you might ask yourself why we don't just force him to sit down and get on with it.  I know that some of our nearest and dearest have wondered the same thing over the years, but some children, they just learn differently.  Some children are such perfectionists that they can't face their homework not because they don't want to do it, but because they can't face the possibility that they might do it wrong, so they hide, they ignore, they act out.

It's not a recipe for relaxed family life, that's for sure.

So what was different about last night?  How was he able to just get on with it, to the extent that I watched in quiet wonder and asked myself if this is how things are on a typical school night for those families whose children get less anxious when faced with their own very human imperfections?

Partly, I think, it's the fact that he's getting older and more mature, is better able to deal with the swings and roundabouts of everyday life.  Also impacting may have been the fact that the task he chose to do first was one he didn't find difficult and which, because it was online, he was given instant feedback on, so knew that he had completed it perfectly.  That buoyed him up to deal with the second task, which he was less keen on, but still able to do well.  Or perhaps he just had the right thing for lunch, or I said the right thing when I met him from school, or another of the million things that might have affected his mood.

But I don't really know; kids don't come with a manual, no matter what the parenting gurus out there might say.  And if the last few years of dealing with the fallout of my son's learning style have taught me anything, it's that we need to be grateful for those moments of calm - because there might not be another one along for a while.


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