“I can’t do it!”
These are words I hear about a hundred times a day in our house. At the moment these words are said multiple times when anything resembling school work is suggested. Here is a common scenario from our house on a daily basis… in fact, this is actually what happened about 15 minutes ago!
Mum: “Ok, lunch time is over. Up to the bench and write out your spelling list please.”
Son: “Grrrr…. NO! I hate doing spelling!”
Mum: “I know you do.” Then I bite off my words, because I want to say a whole lot more, but I’ve learnt that I can now decrease my interaction in these moments. I busy myself with other things so I’m near, but not engaged.
Son: Goes to the bench and takes up his pencil and begins to write. Growls, throws the pencil across the room and leaves the bench, burying his head in the armchair. “I can’t do it! I ALREADY made a mistake!”
Mum: Walks up to the bench to see a very neatly written word ‘camp’, but the p has been written backwards. “Mistakes are OK. That’s what rubbers are for. Up you come and finish this off.”
Son: ignores me
Mum: “It’s a shame you are wasting time now. I guess however long it takes you to get up here and do it, that’s how many extra write outs you’ll need to do this afternoon.”
Son: Stomps to the bench, complaining about it making him angry, and that he needs time to calm down when that happens. All the while, he’s doing his writing of the spelling list.
Ten minutes later, the list is complete (very neatly I might add), the spelling exercise has also been done. He empties the dishwasher and puts it all away (which is what he’s doing right now, allowing me time to write this!), and he’s almost finished his school work for the day.
It does get so frustrating for me though that I have the same repeat of complaints and time wasting to deal with every day. Each day he will argue for longer than it takes to do the work, that he can’t do the work! Even if it’s the exact same type of work he was doing yesterday! Grrrr…it’s seriously hard not to raise my voice, or get mad, or say unhelpful things to him. Then I just have to look at how far he’s come from a year ago and remember that whatever I’m doing, it’s seriously working.